Saturday, April 03, 2004

Blue Guitars are only good for smashing

[A whiny it's too early in the morning for me to think straight complaint about not being referenced is here excised--the editor]

I will say this much:

Sean Serrell (admittedly) doesn't understand Marx on Capital. He opines, "There are a number of reasons why Marxism in its utopianism does not fit the way we work as an evolved species." HUH? Marx a utopian. Give me a break. First, Captial is arguably the only book ever written the purpose of which is to explore Capital as it is, not as it should be. Neoclassical economics is in la-la land compared to Marx as it is a study of ideals and relativity. Jeremy Bentham was nuts (his stuffed body that is willed to be wheeled into any lecture on utility is a sign of this fact) and not only was he nuts but Utility just doesn't hold water. Most Capitalists are utopianists--they push the ideal. Marx tried to unveil the veil/vale. Sean, I know you asked for some "nice Marxist" to explain, but you really do misrepresent the author in question.

The blue guitar crap doesn't hold water either. In fact, I think the way that poem is being used at the moment is just wrong. Nevertheless, YOU, the poet, may play your blue guitar, but so what? What does that say about the music as it is heard , the tune as it is used , and the meaning of the acts from learning to play to selling the lyric as they are hidden ?

Mike Snider seems disgusted or ashamed at my use of Marx. He writes, "But Marx!" Love the exclamation mark. Mike, if you haven't read Capital, you should. Folks seem to think that their reading of the anthologized bits of The Communist Manifesto and maybe bits on German Ideology are good enough to go on. But no. The important book, the most important that is, is Capital, which is not a political book, it is a scientific study. Much more scientific than S Pinker's overly-apologetic support of flawed-though-useful and humane Chomskian linguistic theory. (Btw, Sean, if you like teaching Pinker, a good book to use as a comparison to show students the problems with the idea that we don't have the capacity for language is a book called Educating Eve. Such an offensive book, from title to last period. It is a purposeful attack on Pinker and Chomsky. Fails completely, but superiorly written.)

Anyway, Capital is not about communism at all. I certainly don't buy some of Marx's arguments but I do believe in the spirit of his inquiry.

It isn't up to me to decide whether what I do is a commodity or not. Quite frankly, we should be studying this problem: What are we doing about the exchange of poetry? Not picking on Josh, because I appreciate him and his ideas, but (apparently) he is as concerned with the poetry right now as he is about the picture on the cover of his book being visible on Amazon's online marketplace. And I know that this comment might sound insensitive. I am sensitive to his needs. If it were my book, I would want the picture up. But, to mention this desire (based on utility, a system of economics that has nothing to do with poetry, can have nothing to do with the vocation--Holderlin) in media res with the debate about the market is highly suspect.

So why not drop the bullshit about the blue guitar--more like a rhinestone cowboy is how I see it. Why the guitar...all the talk about the thing...which in our market tends to become a commodity in order to be useful in public discourse? Why not talk about the guitar player? It's flash, not folk that we're dealing with here. And this is why I suggested a few weeks ago a poetry tour during which the participants all split the costs to conduct a readings series that is truly public. In other words, not tied to an institution. One thing I learned this quarter is that there are a few academics out there who are using their affiliations with writers to bolster their own worth on the market. I have had it with that agenda.

Sean, you are right on in finding suspect the desire to "maintain" worthless distinctions between the mainstream and the avant-garde. I am with you, brother. Makes me steam. Especially when the folks who maintain such distinctions don't really seem to care what others think about their ideas as long as they are heard.

If we are really interested in the work and the song, then this sort of free-ing up of discourse (events like a poetry tour) won't be a sacrifice, they become necessity. That is: as long as we consider the work. Otherwise, it's all flash and kissing ass.

I just see Pete from the Who smashing it up
that blue guitar
stolen, then smashed
over and over

that's all it's good for anyway.

I have asked many questions, made some points recently. The debate has now been referred to as the "Mike versus Josh" debate. It is condensed into two oppositional views. Sean, if you are going to complain about Steve Evans doing it, you should refrain as well.

NAMES. MARKETS. SYSTEMS of EXCHANGE. The one and the other.

Peirson! What of Levinas and desire///how do I know what I am doing out here?

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