In the Futurist Manifesto, A slap in the face of public taste, Khlebnikov, Mayakovsky, Burlyuk and Kruchenykh defended these theses concerning the rights of poets:
1 - To enlarge the scope of the poet’s vocabulary with arbitrary and derivative words.
2- To feel insuperable hatred for the language that existed before them.
3. To tear with horror from our proud foreheads the wreath of cheap fame which you have made from bathhouse switches.
4. To stand on the rock of the word “we” amid the sea of catcalls and outrage.
I at first glance, I am not sure about one, believe strongly that 2 is insane, agree with three, and certainly understand and sympathize with 4. Celebrity now is woven of other materials and immaterials – a Youtube channel, an invite to the Miami Basel Plutocrats of Art fair, etc. And alas, the “we” of a movement of any kind, determined to undo the long bondage of poetry to banality, has disappeared into a blurbish train of watered CVs and the insuperable tones of the NPR poetry reader- a voice that is like a bullet directed at the heart of poetry itself. I’d like to think the bullet won’t work, and that poetry has the vampirish quality of coming alive in every coffin it is buried in when the moon is right. You can put it down, but it will be back, swinging an axe and breaking in your door.
One, though: I like the spirit of it. I wonder if this is how Twitter, Tik Tok, blogs and the infinite cesspool of comments on Internet is all, somehow, quicksilver to me. The slang, the acronyms, the rapid erasures of jargon and slogan, I am in love with them beyond any ideological position. I’m pretty sure there are no arbitrary words – I’m too Freudian for that. But there are emergents all the time. I often find myself banging out words that do not exist in a dictionary, but should.
So: I’m no retro-futurist, but I am a useful idiot. That counts for something.