06 June 2010
A Tonalist Notes
The contours of the shifting subject as mode of address, both various and specific, come into focus through the doubt and uncertainty of voice, approach, color, mood, tone: true negative dialectics. The subject's sitedness is directly imbricated with her coming-to-know-herself; that is, "address" filtered through the site of becoming, so that tone reveals the specificity and variousness of being-in-community.
"The person is the color of the landscape and is lit."
And vice versa. The subject takes on the tone of her landscape and makes the site of voice its color, just as the critical ecology of the subject (in this case the Bay Area's poetry community) is tinted with the thought of the subject. Community as a spatial practice to inhabit: a landscsape of thought. Just as the socioeconomic realities of the present condition our writing, the ecology of what's in the air affects our tone.
"The image is saturated with absence if, as most often, there is no figure."
The absence of the subject, her desires, and her affect in Language Poetry, itself the staged affect of absence?? The landscape with no subject that is its lack of voice? In Moriarty, the image is saturated with the presence of impermanence, saturated with refraction, a subject that each moment of writing comes to recognize itself as slowly disappearing from the frame of the possible that has yet to be.
"Not a movement so much as a mood, an orientation, a realization that much that seemed forbidden is in fact required. Doubt, for example, especially self-doubt"
Inhabiting doubt as the primary tool for inhabiting lyric: negative capability.
"Intimate address. Acknowledgment of what shared humanly as restlessness with the present, disbelief in (but commitment to) identity, one's own and that of one's adversary." // "...one can watch group formations include contradictions, inconsistencies, refutations and assertions, as well as personal relationships that, importantly, often form the basis of all else." // "A Tonalist proposes an anti-lyric whose viability relates to the history of lyric poetry by resisting as much as enacting it. The table manners are bad. The tranquility being cooked up comes from emptiness. And passion, as everyone knows, means suffering. In A Tonalist the lyric "I" is complicated rather than celebrated. There is doubt."
Commitment to disbelief as a form of public intimacy, that both individual and collective subjectivity is both provisional and fictional--cannot be what it will have been.
"I felt that my own attention to lyric, despite the resistance to an unquestioned celebration of voice, craft, and bourgeois beauty among other resistances I shared with its detractors, constituted a parallel gesture with that old figurative impulse...Some people write lyric poetry because they just want to and think it is great. Some write it though they think it is impossible. The latter are A Tonalists."