Monday, December 25, 2006

Absorbing the absorptive vs. non absorptive on this Xmas morning...

In the wee hours of the morning -- and all through the house, nothing stirred except my little pinkies on this keyboard -- I just finished reading Robert Archambeault's summation of the current debate (involving Josh Corey, et al) on "absorptive" vs. "anti-absorptive" poetry -- with, believe it or not, considerable interest. Funny, Josh has been meditating on this binary, under various guises, for at least the past three years. In late 2004, it was "organic" vs. "non-organic" poetry. Were any of you there for that one? You can read my summation of it here.

If anything, over the years Josh has moderated somewhat: now he clearly acknowledges that he enjoys different types of poetry (and prose) for different reasons. As Robert points out, Big Science may yet shed light on how different kinds of poems actually appeal to different parts of the brain. Different personalities also tend to favour different parts of the brain (the enneagram suggests a few things about this). Strokes for different folks... cerebral hemorrhages...

One wonders (at least I do) how much this intellectualized debate -- which really seems to boil down to a highly sophisticated attempt to show how "what I like" is better than "what you like" -- also simply boils down to plain ol' insecurity. Josh, because he prefers composing the difficult & challenging "anti-absorptive" poetry over supposedly simpler "absorptive" poetry, resorts to the same kind of self-justification that poets in general do in defending their art form before a predominantly prose-reading public: that is, by claiming that because it makes more demands on the reader, it's somehow better. The more marginalized poetry has become, the more poets seem to suffer from a mania for self-justification. (This trend, alas, has gone on for centuries.)

Ah well. Proof is in the pudding as well as in the eating. (How Christmasy can we get!) If a particular poem succeeds on its own terms -- if it illuminates and astounds, is brilliant and beautiful (I don't think I use those terms lightly -- do I?) it succeeds no matter side of a particular binary it falls into, what "school" it comes from.

As for absorption, we all know certain kinds of paper are better than others for that.

OK... giftwrap.

Season's greetings!

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