Friday, November 04, 2005


Susan Sontag (by Annie Leibovitz)
Sontag (The Benefactor):
. . . the appetite for thinking must be regulated, as all sensible people know, for it may stifle one’s life. I was more fortunate than most in that, in my youth, I had no settled ambitions, no tenacious habits, no ready opinions which I would have to sacrifice to thought. My life was my own: it was not dismembered into work and leisure, family and pleasure, duty and passion. Still I held back at first—keeping myself free of unnecessary entanglements, seeking the company of those whom I understood and therefore could not be seduced by, yet not daring to follow my inclinations toward solitary thought to their conclusion.
Solomon Burke
Scuffling about I uncover’d Village Voice’d remarks about Jonathan Lethem’s The Fortress of Solitude made by Robert Christgau—he calls it “the finest rock and roll novel since (or before) The Commitments,” (that Roddy Doyle thing I didn’t read) in the course of noting “Lethem's two-CD, not-for-sale tribute to the music [the novel’s main character Dylan] Ebdus grew up to.”

Funny, I never once thought of the book as a “rock and roll novel.” I thought Mark Twain, childhood and race. Mostly race, undauntedly and excellently so. Though: isn’t rock and roll (and all its variants) mostly about race anyhow. Isn’t the music “industry,” like the fashion “industry”, scored precisely by race (and class) thievery? The source of new music (styles) coming deftly “up” out of the black community, gradually “whiten’d” for mass consumption? New meaning get put (even) to those “angelheaded hipsters” “dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking for an angry fix”—it’s that search for the (authentic) commodifiably new, no?

Ezra Pound (Guide to Kulchur). [In the Confucian “Analects,” talk of the “six becloudings”]:
The love of firmness without the love of learning, whereof the beclouding conduces to extravagant conduct.
      . . . in the ideogram called “beclouding” we find confusion, an overgrowing with vegetation . . . “Extravagant conduct” is shown in a dog pawing a king or trying to lick the king’s ear, which is said to mean a dog wanting to rule.
A lot of that is visible in the poetry precincts, no? In the poetry “industry”?