Do you know, I can’t think when I have blogged less – and it’s not for a lack of things to write about or show you, lovely readers. I have book reviews stacked up, incident galore, inner reflection like a hall of mirrors – and there’s a bumper season of mists, mellow fruitfulness, workshops and readings coming up. I’ll be at the Wise Words festival in Canterbury on Sunday the 9th, for example. (6pm, Browns Coffee House, a talk and reading! Come along if you can.) And the day before that is the Free Verse Poetry Book Fair.
But that ‘melancholy fit’ does ‘fall sudden from heaven, like a weeping cloud’ – full of stuff that must rain down somewhere. That’s when the blog posts actually get written. (And when I have a minute or two.) This morning I’ve been reading an article that Jack Underwood linked to on Facebook, by Leontia Flynn in the Edinburgh Review, called ‘What do I know? (Or, why I’m giving up post-modern poetry to live an irony-free life.)’. To be honest I felt a little confused after reading the piece; the terms felt vague, the sentences were long and tangled, and I can’t imagine a life, or art, without ironic questioning and ‘the drunkenness of things’ (even oneself) ‘being various’…
‘Ironic’ can include merely effacing the self, which is like Keats again, his negative capability; and this is also a form of sincerity. ‘Sincerity’ is more like a feeling than a position, and it isn’t an absolute good. For instance, I find Paul Muldoon very sincere in his questionings. But a lot of the time, sincerity is the hallmark top note of people who won’t listen. But after rereading it, I think the piece might be a sort of garden shed moment – stop and smell the huge roses…
The big problem is that I then thought, ‘What’s Jack up to at the mo?’ and scrolled down the page. And there I found a massive brain-mash.
To explain the extent of it, I should perhaps explain that I went into it thinking it was a fake video: that there was clever dubbing, or then someone had cleverly superimposed edited footage of Putin onto a video of, say, Fats Domino or perhaps some cool aging Russian ‘jazzer’. Perhaps, even, they;d found a Putin-alike to perform a singlalonga Putin! There’s a career concept. One by one my theories fell away until, after the Russian heavy at the other mic starts singing, I was forced to realise that, no, we were actually watching Putin. Singing ‘Blueberry Hill’.
(And look who the first person you see is, beaming away, clapping like an idiot!! Oh the ignominy. Yes I know this was a charity fundraiser, but we don’t know for what. It’s worse than last week’s road rage incident. It might even be worse than the plane-peeing incident, and that’s saying something.)
This video, in other words, is either a) far worse than postmodernism, or b) why we need postmodernism, or even c) both the above. The bad news is that postmodernism is dead.
Or maybe that’s the good news. I can’t tell.
I guess I just don’t think that ‘irony’ and ‘sincerity’ are the true opposites. ‘Meaning’ and ‘money’ might be a pair; or ‘telling’ and ‘asking’; or ‘thinking’ and ‘looking’. ‘Occupying’ and ‘buying’. Anyway, I think that’s enough of that. I don’t think I was ever more than skating amusedly on the ‘surfacey surface’ of the postmodern project, anyway. Some things have always been with us.
In other news, Jack Underwood was reading at an event in Bethnal Green last night, organised I think by Steven Fowler, called ‘Poets for Pussy Riot’.
Virgin Mary Mother of God, chase out Putin,
Chase out Putin, chase out Putin…