Thursday 21 April 2022

undescribed overall feel

Received an email from Ralph Hawkins saying in part: "Also I think the discovery of form (alternatives) comes out of the book (the political ideas maybe (more) French than Hippy or Hopi, but the line spacings, arrangements, flows are distinctly American and with all become a different means of viewing the world and poem as construct). I can now see (today!) how some of the content is distinctly hippy, in search of the alternative past and an alternative future. But the future is always materialist and not a pipe dream! Puff of smoke."

[‘the book’ is Nothing is being suppressed]
('Hopi' - a people in the south-west USA- subject of 1000 PhDs -katsina dolls appear in a Martin Thom poem and Hopi mythology is the basis for David Wevill's great poem Fall of the Arrow. Maybe in a Nathaniel Tarn poem too, damned if I can remember. A symbol of Third World wisdom which the post-western poet can partake of.
I think this is very important and it is something which I never mention in the book. The idea of the poem changes between the ‘mainstream’ poets in ‘Poetry Dimension’ [vols 1 to 6] and the poets in 2nd Aeon. It is an overall thing and inarticulate ... and very hard to articulate. I think it involves several hundred poets in the Seventies… so, readily grasped however non-analytical and undescribed.
I am wondering how much it involves the presentation of the self… and the key thing about that self is lifestyle, a liberated lifestyle. An “affective identity”. And the self is not explicitly present in the poem, it is a schema which flows out of every line and flows over every line. it’s like the air in a room... you can’t see either the self or the air in the room.

American. I think there is a legacy problem because people have always said “American!” and not gone on to produce a description. Actually most American poets don’t have the relevant quality, we are talking specifically about the avant garde of the Fifties, the ones in Donald Allen’s anthology. The ones who re-founded British poetry. What I am thinking about is post-American but British, this is a local identity.
'Flow' is the key thing. The style would probably include (a)the American thing. (b) offering the partaking in the new generation, the one which emerged after 1965, and which includes student revolt and the summer of love. (c) free association, which includes the Self being the validation for the sensations that appear in the poem (d) intimacy (e) rejection of a previous regime in which there was "empiricism", so that intuition counted for nothing and the sense record was everything and there were no ideals because they were generalisations (f) absence of morality and the whole legacy of religion, except maybe Buddhism (g) dislike of forcing experience into existing schemas (h) lack of a work ethic (I) not describing sociology because the idea is being rejected that social status & income dictate consciousness (j) openness of the fabric to speculation, hypothesis, fantasy (k) sparseness of frame markers (l) jumps of sense… the free association… with the idea that there are many points of view and if you shift from one to another there are special benefits, maybe that if you see the edge of the frame you realise how it confines you.

This list is probably too rational and the overall feel drifts away as we start to analyse. If Peter Finch reviews 276 publications (from Britain) in one issue of 2nd Aeon (titled 19-21 to satisfy subscription contracts! 268 pages, wow), for 1974, I think all the authors in that selection had got this New Feel. So, easy to grasp, hard to analyse. 69 poets published in that one issue.