a passage my editor cut, no doubt wisely, from my drone essay, on rhyme
The internet has of course enabled and encouraged the politics of the instant reaction. As soon as you’ve finished reading a poem or essay or article, you may comment on it, as obnoxiously and as ignorantly as you like. For centuries, you had to take time to think about and formulate and publish a written response to a piece of writing. During this interval, you might even have, who knows, reread the piece a number of times and found your thoughts and feelings about it changing, evolving. When a poem of mine appears on a website that allows comments (“freedom of expression” is the last refuge of the troll, whose right to anonymously air his ressentiment should be curtailed with jackboots if necessary), there are usually at least a few readers who just have to tell you what they think—and their thoughts take one of two forms: empty praise or empty denunciation. People who don’t know anything about the history of rhyme have often internalized a post-Byronic attitude toward it without realizing that their assumptions are not self-evident. So, for instance, even though I am frequently as Byronically baroque in my rhymes as Paul Muldoon on bath salts, I’m used to drawing flak for my poems that deliberately employ simple rhymes. “Authors can be stupid enough, God knows,” said Auden, “but they are not always quite so stupid as a certain kind of critic seems to think. The kind of critic, I mean, to whom, when he condemns a work or a passage, the possibility never occurs that its author may have foreseen exactly what he is going to say.”
I reviewed “The Passion of Louise Glück, starring the grief & suffering of Louise Glück” for the Los Angeles Review of Books.
And Complex magazine was kind enough to choose my book as one of their "25 Books We Want This Year."
Also, I saw Lincoln & it might have the worst score I’ve ever heard. Pretty good script, tho.
Read Edmund Wilson’s Patriotic Gore.
Adam Kotsko at the LARB
In what has become a kind of ritual, the reader of a review of Žižek’s work always learns that Žižek is simultaneously hugely politically dangerous and a clown with no political program whatsoever, that he is an apologist for the worst excesses of twentieth-century Communism and a total right-wing reactionary, both a world-famous left-wing intellectual and an anti-Semite to rival Hitler himself.
The goal is not so much to give an account of Žižek’s arguments and weigh their merits as to inoculate readers against Žižek’s ideas so they feel comfortable dismissing them. To find left-wing thinkers and movements simultaneously laughable and dangerous, disorganized and totalitarian, overly idealistic and driven by a lust for power is to suggest: there is no alternative. Rather than simply knocking around a poor, misunderstood academic in the public square, it is an attempt to shut down debate on the basic structure of our society. The rolling disaster of contemporary capitalism — war, crisis, hyper-exploitation of workers, looming environmental catastrophe — demands that we think boldly and creatively to develop some kind of livable alternative. Žižek can help.
Interview w/ me in the Los Angeles Review of Books
In this interview, I say things about adolescent males, not going to weddings, John Jeremiah Sullivan, homeless people, being published in The New Yorker, writing stuff, the Beatles, Sean Cassidy, Mexico, Robert Lowell, the self, Inspector Clouseau, & other shit.