When LI ruminated this joint into being, we decided that we were not going to spend our time exclusively referring people to other blogs. Our idea was that the Internet is so incredibly big that we could wander through it the way a Borges character might wander through the Library of Babel, randomly pulling out sites, spilling contents, going on eccentric and timewasting tangents. In this library, there is definitely a place for blogs (and for porno, and for pictures of cats, and for listservs, etc., etc.) and we try to sneak in links to those blogs we like or those that have caught our interest for some reason; but the blogosphere is so intensely inward looking that we felt that we couldn’t compete with those bloggers who do this much better. For this reason, we’ve never constructed a permanent list of links, since the goal was, and is, to embed the shock of recognition contained by the link in the post. LI has been re-thinking that of late. Should we surrender to the common format? Readers, tell us what you think.
Since the Dem and Republican conventions invited bunches of political bloggers to report on them, there has been another run of “what are blogs”” article in the press, and another run of blog triumphalism in the sphere. I’m rather sick of that. In the meantime, go to this link: the Bureau of Public secrets
BOPS is a website run by some old situationalist – or perhaps by some young fan of the situationalists. Lately, they have been doing something very very cool – they have been putting up Kenneth Rexroth’s poems and essays semi-officially, after contacting New Directions. We read Rexroth’s fascinating essay on D.H. Lawrence’s poetry last night, and have been mulling over this paragraph. It comes after Rexroth makes the obvious comparison of Lawrence to Hardy, with particular reference to one of Lawrence’s early poems, ‘The Hymn to Priapus’:
“Hardy was a major poet. Lawrence was a minor prophet. Like Blake and Yeats, his is the greater tradition. If Hardy ever had a girl in the hay, tipsy on cider, on the night of Boxing Day, he kept quiet about it. He may have thought that it had something to do with “the stream of his life in the darkness deathward set,” but he never let on, except indirectly.”
This led me, following that Library of Babel riff, on a search for Lawrence’s poems. Go in particular to this crazy Danish site, which throws copyright law to the wind and publishes six collections of Lawrence’s poetry (including his worst – the Pansies collection).
Here’s one of the poems that torches a whole lyrical tradition. This is the kind of prophetic anger Rexroth is after, in which a vast, over-reaching cultural despair is poured into a situation so stylized by the love lyric as to have become numb. Lawrence's great idea is to pull out the pliers and work on the numb until he hits a shrieking nerve. So he progresses from a poor first stanza, with its waxy flower/sunshine image, to heap up images of default, of natural and supernatural catastrophe, until one balked moment -- a moment of impotence -- becomes a blinding stroke of lightning in which the annihilating power of the system of enlightenment -- that butcher's power that systematically strips the animal from the man -- is revealed as a hideous commonplace -- as the implacably cruel intention behind the seeming kindness, the seeming morality, of the civilizing process.
Last Words to Miriam
Yours is the sullen sorrow,
The disgrace is also mine;
Your love was intense and thorough,
Mine was the love of a growing flower
For the sunshine.
You had the power to explore me,
Blossom me stalk by stalk;
You woke my spirit, you bore me
To consciousness, you gave me the dour
Awareness — then I suffered a balk.
Body to body I could not
Love you, although I would.
We kissed, we kissed though we should not.
You yielded, we threw the last cast,
And it was no good.
You only endured, and it broke
My craftsman's nerve.
No flesh responded to my stroke;
So I failed to give you the last
Fine torture you did deserve.
You are shapely, you are adorned
But opaque and null in the flesh;
Who, had I but pierced with the thorned
Full anguish, perhaps had been cast
In a lovely illumined mesh
Like a painted window; the best
Fire passed through your flesh,
Undrossed it, and left it blest
In clean new awareness. But now
Who shall take you afresh?
Now who will burn you free
From your body's deadness and dross?
Since the fire has failed in me,
What man will stoop in your flesh to plough
The shrieking cross?
A mute, nearly beautiful thing
Is your face, that fills me with shame
As I see it hardening;
I should have been cruel enough to bring
You through the flame.