Ptarmigan

a grouse with completely feathered feet

5/24/2004

"The myth must be understood--but it is inadequate for POETRY. The poem is vaster than mere myth and reaches its purity, not when it furnishes new myths, but when it exceeds myth." --Robert Duncan, letter to Jack Spicer


Is mythopoetics a dead-end? Ellipses, the fairie queen in the sweat shop, direct transference of upper middle class aspirations to subvert particulars but only in particular untoward fashion. Rococco comedy of manners/errors to veil self-advancement in the face of grit and disparity. Archetypes, the new sincerity. Symbolist yearnings, the way to bifurcate (a) forward into the 1890s (stratifications and all) and (b) backwards into the arms of the proper contract.

How to end the dead end? Trashing myth isn't enough. Well, it might be as a purely initial step. But more consistently, the mythopoetic urge has to be dense with a project in order to get anywhere. It has to be laden with bewilderment, tonal estrangement; more than the faux transgressions of content, but a deliberate plumbing of whether a myth has ever saved anyone, much less a story from its own flawed self. Otherwise, it's just killing leisure time.

The Grail is as common as rats or seaweed
Not lost but misplaced.

(Jack Spicer, The Holy Grail, "The Book of Galahad")



2 Comments:

At 6/01/2004 04:28:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You know what one of the cool things about WisCon is, is that it puts me in the right frame of mind to parse something like this.

And I agree, completely. Must bear this in mind if I ever finish my Zoroastrian fallen angel fairy story.

-- David

 
At 6/12/2004 10:18:00 AM, Blogger michael said...

myths surround us & saturate our lives.
it's not the names we drop but the forms that shape our perceptions: "the great fallen leader", "the war against X-abstract noun", "poetry as team vs. team sports". what a poet can do is try to dream otherwise.
if it's a great dreaming then others will share it.

m.

 

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