First, a note of gratitude to Henry and the group he has assembled here. It has been a long time since I have felt around me such a sympathetic community of interest in issues that have bedeviled me. Thanks to one and all. Here then are some random jotting from a Saigon cafe, numbered for easy reference:
- In comments to the previous post Joseph Hutchinson suggests that we cannot get outside the problem of relativism. Everyone's golden mean is different, individually determined, he says. There is certainly a good deal of truth in his assertion, but I don't think it has to be debilitating to our project. The charge of hard relativism only holds up, I think, if you focus on the individual to the exclusiin of his / her social context. Human forms are, as Henry remarked, pretty durable and they tend to root practice in a social matrix that, while not immutable, is stable enough for practical purposes.
- For me, a poetic middle ground and middle voice would look something like the following: A) a poetry that records and investigates experience. [Individual experience is always located within sets of overlapping social practices: no private language.] B) A poetry that while acknowledging and even encoding the limits of language to express experience, refuses to fall into relativism or nihilism. C) Constant reinvention of older forms. D) A respect for grammar, at least at a "meta" level. Ordinary grammar is already so full of breakages and switchbacks that it seems irresponsible to add to the difficulties. E) Style: a play between loose and tight, between freedom and restraint, between perception and wit.
- A concern for the connection between the aesthetic and the ethical, the poetic and the political.