Tuesday, November 19, 2013

a little history: Ammiel Alcalay, Charles Olson, Ezra Pound, John Sinclair

a little history: Ammiel Alcalay, Charles Olson, Ezra Pound, John Sinclair

John kindly sent me some books in the post, which cracked open my head so wide you could sail a bus into my frontal lobes and let the passengers out to marvel at all the lights going off. Wow. Thanks.

"Charles was saying, "you have to go back, you have to go back." One of the most important parts was language, you know, the expression of life is language, and you have to grasp languages. At the time, people were concerned about the same thing. What is language and life? What do they reveal in themselves?"--Amiri Baraka, Polis Is This, movie interview.

The first book i started to read is called 'a little history' by Ammiel Alcalay, that introduces Charles Olson and his 'human universe.' The big "O" as John calls him, often followed by "Olson, man, the greatest" or words to that effect with a huge elated smile. John Sinclair, really introduced me to Charles Olson, who i had come across briefly during my on-going study of Ezra Pound, but, I had not paid proper attention at all, at all.

Now here, in this single book my head is exploding in 23 directions, not only is the meeting between John Sinclair and Charles Olson documented, but there are pages and pages of fine bridge work, to me, between such innovative movements as the beats and the moderns, Olson and Pound, Olson and 'the tale of the tribe', or the special poetic languages employed in the great work of an epic poem, including history. And by recirculation we come back to back to 'fattening frogs for snakes' and 'always know: a book of monk' by John Sinclair, and the similarities of these works to 'the tale of the tribe' and furthermore, with the added context and subtext of music, rhythm and melody to scaffold the message. 

I have some blogs describing my research into 'the tale of the tribe' for anyone brave enough to get stuck into the muck.


Olson, like most poetic genius worth a hoot, i suspect is best understood by going to his works themselves, and then tracking down the biographical work after, which, i am led to believe in the case of Olson, still lack a single text that does full justice due to his wide phalanx of varied impact on so much of the 20th and some of 21st century American Kulture. However, for me, this single text is the ONE i was looking for.

"Never a "public intellectual" in the neutered sense we might now conceive, Olson was more akin to a public intelligence. His stature does not conform to the tyranny of reduced expectations. His relationship to Pound is a case in point." Ammiel Alcalay, alittle history, page 123.

JFK and his assassination get some coverage in this little book of history too, for example this paragraph resonates deeply with the present day experience of life, from where i sit.

"As our cultural borders are ever more heavily policed, as mop-up operations to consolidate official versions of history move into high gear--from new affirmations of the lone gunman theory in the Kennedy assassination to the reductive stereotyping and marketing of Beat and hippy culture, promoting them as usable tools of American cultural domination--the objective of such explicit and implicit campaigns, as Martin Schotz so cogently put it in History Will Not Absolve Us: Orwellian Control, Public Denial and the Murder of President Kennedy, is to "make everything believable and nothing knowable." In every way, the United States is living out the aftermath of a kind of occupation. In this, foreign and domestic, cultural and political are inextricably enmeshed"--Ammiel Alcalay, a little history, page 23.
And i just found A pdf called: Republics of Poetry, by Ammiel Alcalay. For further reading:

A number of the pieces in this book directly concern Charles Olson. The approach and subject matter of all of them, however have more to do with the deeper politics of where Olson is and is not now to be found in our culture than with a particular interpretation of his thought and poetry. The general absence of Olson in the world claiming the terms of poetry for itself is quite disturbing, particularly as questions of politics have re-emer ged, sometimes gingerly and other times with blunt force, in the wake of 9/11.--Ammiel Alcalay, Republics of Poetry

Expect more feedback from this book, Love, steve

Tuesday 20th November, 2013.


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