“Was not their mistake once more bred of the life of slavery that they had been living?—a life which was always looking upon everything, except mankind, animate and inanimate—‘nature,’ as people used to call it—as one thing, and mankind as another, it was natural to people thinking in this way, that they should try to make ‘nature’ their slave, since they thought ‘nature’ was something outside them” — William Morris

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Take the Dark Ecology Challenge

Angie my Ph.D. student tells me that there was a dark ecological reading of Juliana Spahr's poem Gently Now, Don't Add to the Heartache. But she doesn't tell me what it is. Instead, in a kind of double blind test, she has asked me to do my own one and see how congruent or dissonant it is with the dark ecology view. Okay, you're on.

So the first thing I notice about the poem is the terrifying Whitmanesque lists of products. Genius. By the time they showed up I was expecting them, which made them more scary. They modulate the Whitmanesque lists of lifeforms, which are wonderfully particular.

The other thing I notice is how it produces heartache, evokes what it's talking about. In this respect it's a brilliant act of what I now call tuning. (Hey it's been a long time since I've read David Antin's piece Tuning. I should break it out.)

And I notice the uncanny (haha) resemblance between the poem and the Antigone chorus I just posted.

Okay this will go on for some time. These are my initial intuitions. What fun, I'm slightly nervous to take this dark ecology challenge.

1 comment:

New Vantage said...

Im confused to how the poem doesnt conflict with the Beautiful soul syndrome, how it creates a "over there" concept. Does the performance of a poem change that, and if so how can poetry fall in line with dark ecology? If its(dark ecology)the alternative you propose to normative modes of thinking about nature. can poetry be still a productive way in causing productive forms of understanding about our idea of our environment and how we interact with it? or is it just a form of romanticism that is easy to "buy in to"?