Lucifer's Valet

PISAN CANTOS: Kenner digression

Posted in Hermeneutic Friendship, Poeticks by lucifersvalet on 26 November 2009

but not The Pound Ezra. (That’s a Pound-like joke: when my sister & I were college roommates, she kept misreading the bookspine. It’s the kind of misprision that comes from knowing more rather than knowing less. It’s the kind of joke that’s tolerable in Pound, elsewhere, not so much.) No, this from A Colder Eye: The Modern Irish Writers. I’ve something to say about the book,  but for now I’ll excerpt a part, relevant to a common theme in the scholarship, vestigial Imagism in the Cantos:

To an exhaustion that was beginning to be perceived in standard English, Modernism early in the twentieth century brought two remedies that at first seem diametrically opposed. One was recourse to the Saxon hoard of strong verbs; the other was this Celtic habit of vivid static images.

“Celtic habit” in this case seems not as much linguistic anthropology as marketing ploy, a cousin to the “PQ (Peasant Quality)” required of Abbey Theater dramaturgy. But irrespective of questions of authenticity, there’s something interesting about the poetics of it. (more…)


PISAN CANTOS: Sieburth’s Notes

Posted in Hermeneutic Friendship, Poeticks by lucifersvalet on 25 November 2009

One way to read: first, read a Canto straight through, w/out any notes; second, read the notes, flipping back at the relevant lines in the poem.

The thing is, both of these experiences are aesthetic. I enjoy reading notes. They’re quick & monadic (they don’t form a narrative, so you can break off at any time). I think it goes back to the first book reading I ever did, which was the photo captions in the Ballantine Second World War books.

It also goes back to the first time I read the Wasteland, at the urging of a professor. Hated every word of it, except for the one note about Shackleton in the Antarctic hallucinating an extra member to his party.

Sieburth’s notes are remarkably thorough, yet still there are some references go unremarked. Given how personal Pound could get, it would seem some will never get tracked down. These opaque markers can glow with unknowable significance. Like fetishes! & I do like fetishes, though I have prescribed for myself Walter Benn Michaels’s Shape of the Signifier. I’m sure after that medicine I’ll be thinking better.

In the Department of Opaque Markers, we have those books that await the Sieburth treatment, such as some other sections of the Cantos, or Zukofsky’s A (though it would be nice to get the book itself back in print). But that’s an odd kind of text, one that stands ever-pregnant w/anticipated exegesis.

One way of thinking better would be to stop writing the kind of poems that call for such note-making. In the minutiae department, one man’s mountain is everyone else’s molehill.


Posted in Culture Vulturing by lucifersvalet on 24 November 2009

Dept. of This Morning on KBRD.

KBRD is one of the local treasures, a low power, unaffiliated, not-for-profit station out of Olympia. They do everything from hot jazz of the 20’s to easy listening of the 70’s. Stuff you’ll not hear anywhere else. Terrestrial radio may be dying, but they also have a strong internet presence (in fact, through the air they only go during daylight hours, but on the wire you can get them 24/7).

This morning they’ve got Charlie Palloy doing “42nd Street.” I thought I knew that song pretty well, from the oft clipped Busby Berkeley production of the number, but a couplet surprised me. In describing those beautiful Manhattanites, the song says,

They’re side by side,

They’re glorified.

“Glorified” sounds like from a different register, like from an evangelical hymn or something. Something like this?

I’m a sucker for goofy, I’m a sucker for the 80’s, I’m insufficiently wary of the cultural borrowings, but I still dig the KLF.


Posted in Loci communes by lucifersvalet on 23 November 2009

“The dawn was contagious, spreading rapidly about the heavens.”

“The road was narrow, white, old, hard and scarred with shadows.”

PISAN CANTOS: Sieburth’s Introduction

Posted in Poeticks by lucifersvalet on 23 November 2009

Michael Morse & I are reading the Sieburth edition of the Pisan Cantos. I’m going to try to put down some of my thoughts, and maybe some of the dialogue with Michael. Try to be quick about it. Make the reader feel good, like a young blog should.

Sieburth tells the story, Pound’s years in Italy, the radio broadcasts, the arrest, the prison, the writing, the exit to the US, with a coda for incarceration in St. Elizabeth’s & publication & the Bollingen Prize, smartly: he’s got good details & some verve. It’s a nice contrast to the version that’s in my head, Hugh Kenner’s hagiographic Pound Era. Mostly Sieburth allows Pound to be responsible for some of his trouble. By toning down the tragic, Sieburth opens up the possibility for the comic. & as much as I admire Pound, there’s plenty of comic potential in his life story. (more…)


Posted in Narcissistic Self-Loathing by lucifersvalet on 21 November 2009

as Eeyore said.

Then again, you can because you must, as Kant said.