“Fiction has a truth exceeding that of history”
“Homogenized American bullshit, make work job security, personal crisis fabrication, poetry power politics, and just plain bad writing. As the cop says to Paul Sorvino in Goodfellas when they bust him, ‘Where’d you fellows get those clothes? Somebody sure pulled a fast one on you.’” They’d wanted his opinion and they got it. In answer to the question, didn’t he appreciate the purely cerebral in writing, he’d said, “Well, yes, I suppose if you like masturbation, and hey, who doesn’t? I’m with Woody Allen on that one. It’s like having sex with someone you really love.” And while he was on the subject, he thought he’d add, “The intellectual climate in this country can be described as adolescent, and that leads to a lot of masturbation, but serious masturbation. Something badly written, disorganized, gets a lot of attention and it makes you wonder why, what is not evident, what are you missing that everyone else gets or, you ask yourself, is that what readers want, something that insults their intelligence, the most bald faced manipulations and self aggrandizements?”
The two intellectuals, the one affecting Susan Sontag’s eyebrows and the one who looked like she cut her bangs with children’s paper scissors interviewing him for the splashy French online art magazine, Selon, asked questions that sent him back searching memories from his beginnings.
“Jeez, I hate to think that far back. If it was an express straight through, but no, it’s the local with all those stops along the way.” He did remember that the name of the first indie magazine he’d ever published in was called Louder Milk. “You have to be a selfish self-centered prick to survive as a poet.”
In regard to a question on his process, he’d allowed that “My head often knows nothing of what my hand is writing.” It was a quote he’d come across, quoted by someone who was quoting someone else who was quoting Wittgenstein. Maybe those degrees of separation were prophylactic enough that he could claim it as his own. It certainly fit his experience like the proverbial glove. He’d also repeated one of his signature comments: “I wrote that by rolling the dice, an old trick I learned from Mallarmé.” And he’d quoted the French poet, “laisser l’initiative aux mots.”
He’d accepted, he told them, that without attention to the grain of everyday life, the essential tension between substance and sign is prematurely broken. “The source of poetry should be the quotidian in that it is precisely the most usual whose unusualness is unknown or not noticed for its unusualness. The most usual itself becomes what is most unusual,” he’d explained. But it gave him pause, was he nothing more than a cataloger of coincidence? Hypnagogic figments float up out of a chemical dispassion, i.e., boredom. What is language before it reaches the tongue, after all—a soup of body chemistry? And there he was running around with his hair on fire and his head up his ass.