10 November 2007

Exile, revisited

In a response to a passage of William Gass', Brian Crabtree wondered,
While we have benefitted from modern life in many ways, it seems to have pushed us from the beauty we once viscerally knew to be there, hidden in the lines. We no longer toil, collectively, over the lines of a popular ballad, committing the pulses and unexpected variations of sound and color to memory--we don't even hear them; we no longer take words in, imbibe their many shades of meaning, taking joy in them all the while. Hart Crane seems emblematic of Gass' theme, use is abuse. You've got to quit trying to solve his words, trying to impress your own meaning. They simply are.

On a side note: if you're looking for it, you can almost hear echos of Orwellian ideology--who are we if the center of self is lost to us?
I'm reminded of another aspect of the situation. Elsewhere in "Exile" Gass admits,
This claim of mine concerning the centrality of the spoken word, is, of course, not believed. In our picture perfect time, who should believe it? So on your next date, draw a picture of your passion. Thus explain your needs. How far into real feeling will it take you? Will it not inadvertently possess a certain lavatory style? When next you are alone, and pondering some problem (should you call him? will she or won't she? does he like the amplified guitar better than the cradled bass? in what will she prefer that I express myself, chalk or crayon?), try posing your questions in terms of the flickering image so many say they love and is the future's salutary wave. Think through anything. Start small. Continue simple. But doodle the solution into being.
(From Altogether Elsewhere: Writers on Exile)

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