Just a note, not a real exploration...
Because there is a lot to do – preparing four Jung-Institut exams (yes, I have gotten my plane ticket and apartment, but also haven't worked out the schedule of classes), marking exams and papers, glancing at lists of other things that require attention so that nothing gets completely out of hand. And still a lot of procrastination, but also some immediate and clear writing – that strange point where you just start typing out an analysis of three books each of which seems impossibly hazy and distant, and as you type you realize that you actually know what you're saying.
But this isn't about that... though perhaps it is parallel. It's more the unexpected reconnection with people like Lyn Hejinian, John Ashbery, Leslie Scalapino – books now in electronic format, brief glances at Wikipedia biographies, etc. Which bring me back to my Language poets – I do have all ten issues of Temblor, found in a San Francisco bookstore some years ago; they are densely incomprehensible, strange, but very beautiful.
A pleasant relief in this area is that this complex, not completely understandable type of poetry is, for me, not a professional problem: unlike various complex musics (which, throughout my career, always tend to become mired in discussions of difficulty, appropriateness, understanding, cultural and aesthetic validation or criticism, etc.), I can just enjoy this work, without worrying a great deal about how it does what it does.
So, with something like Hejinian's beautiful (beautiful, beautiful) My Life, I don't have to care where it's going. And Ashbery's Three Poems (my favorite of his work), I can be carried along in the complex mystery of what's being said. And the Scalapino works, which aren't as familiar but seem just as wonderful, I can discover them, dip in and out without anxiety or direction.
Especially with the two women, who are from the Bay Area (or were – Scalapino died three years ago, at only 65, when I knew of her but hadn't read much). The poetry has that clear San Francisco light, the sense of calmness that has so much love and thoughtfulness in its depths, a quality of cool breezes and grayish-white skies, small houses perched on hills. Light, small kitchens, cups of tea, relaxed cats on windowsills, bookshelves and wood furniture and pillows.
I'm never terribly sure how Language poetry works (despite reading Charles Bernstein – his essays always seem to create more poetry, but not necessarily to clear anything up), but I enjoy it, sometimes hugely.
Sometimes, in fact, it just seems like many reflections of deep clarity – of calm lives that don't need anxiety, confusion, demand, and that have an endless capacity for being in the moment: as though everything that is, everything that has ever happened or might happen, can be seen, calmly and with understanding....