In different ways, music, painting, and poetry each split into two: a cerebral, avant-garde version devoted to extending the modernist experiment; and a popular version that appealed to mass audiences without knowledge of the art’s traditions and conventions. The “serious” artists made a Tantalean bargain with the academy, which gave them a secure living and a measure of prestige while cutting them off from what any artist wants most—an actual audience. The popular artists won a level of fame and fortune that would have been unimaginable in the past, but what they do is not really art—or, better, not the same art.
If poetry is to remain relevant, distinguishing “art” from “pop” helps no one. Rather, it seems all poems inhabit ranges: good/bad, evocative/trite, innovative/conventional, euphonic/atonal, literal/allusive…and poems (and poets) can be measured against one another along these continua.
On “getting” poetry | New Criterion
Computers can’t grasp the most lucid haiku. Nor can they pen the clumsiest fairytale. Computers cannot read or write literature at all. And they never, never will.
I can prove it to you.
Why Computers Will Never Write Good Novels | Nautilus
I can’t choose a favorite between Lax & Szymborska, but no one could write this as she did:
Beyond the reach
of our presence.
In the paradise lost
How these little words ring.
— Wisława Szymborska, “The Railroad Station”
Apt night reading:
This is the use of memory:
For liberation - not less of love but expanding
Of love beyond desire, and so liberation
From the future as well as the past.
— T.S. Eliot, “Little Gidding”
[Blake] understands that it is not the physical eye that enables what we see, but the mind’s eye: the retina, optic nerve and brain are the servants, not masters, of perception.
America’s looming dystopia is, in part, a failure of imagination.
The four-fold imagination | Aeon
As soon as the President finishes his press conference, black wings carry off the words, bits of flesh still clinging to them.
— Robert Bly, “The Teeth Mother Naked At Last” (1970)
Come, in my labor find a resting place
And in my sorrows lay your head,
Or rather take my life and blood
And buy yourself a better bed—
Or take my breath and take my death
And buy yourself a better rest.
Thomas Merton, “For My Brother Reported Missing in Action, 1943”
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