Friday, December 28, 2012

Louis Zukofsky, etc.

Michael Johnson asks, "Did RAW mention Louis Zukofsky? If he did I missed it. Anyway, I know you enjoy LZ's _A_ and I've noticed the L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E poets see Zukofsky as one of their gods. Do you also like the Language Poets? And if so, who/what books?"

I don't recall Bob every mentioning Zukofsky.  Something tugs at my memory about Pound's dedication of Guide to Kultur, but I don't think it marks a real memory of Bob.

I don't know anything about the L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E poets.  I scanned a copy of articles about them after I read your question, and I haven't even heard of any of them except for Bob Perelman, and I only know his name because of his interest in Louis Zukofsky.  I enjoyed this piece about LZ by BP - .  I particularly liked these lines:

"14. There’s also the progression of his last planned projects: at the beginning of his 8th decade he begins /80 Flowers/ with /Gamut: 90 Trees/ planned for the decade after that. Isn’t 100 the teleological goal there?

"15. (At this point, it’s hard to resist Ron Silliman’s prediction for the next project: /101 Dalmations/.).

"57. Pound remained the model of the poet for Zukofsky.

"58. /Prepositions/ was on Zukofsky’s desk when he died, open to his essay on Pound.

"61. Zukofsky carries Pound on his back, like Aeneas carrying Anchises out of burning Troy."

If I live  to 101 I may write a series of poems about dogs called 101 Dalmatians.

Did you know Zukofsky mentions Vico a few times in "A"?

On another note, there seems so much to read.  Reading about Samuel Johnson's friends in the eighteenth century, it seemed as though most of them had read many of the same books.  In the inverveening centuries, so many more books have become available that we have such a huge variety of texts to choose from.  I think again about Paul Schrader's essay on the film canon ( ).  I find it fascinating how we choose what to read.  It can take a lifetime to start to understand some writers (Pound, Joyce, etc.).  Over the years I've encountered various ideas of the literary canon.  I've spent a lot of time reading books perceived as canonical by Bob Wilson and Ezra Pound, but when I became friends with Rafi Zabor a few years ago, I found a whole new canon I had not read (Chekhov, Tolstoy, Proust, etc.).  I always feel humbled reading your terrific blog ( ) because you have so many books you regard highly which I haven't read, and you've read so many of the books which I value highly.

Robert Heinlein, discussing the difficulties he had in keeping up with advances in the sciences, quoted Alice, "The faster I go, the behinder I get."

Thanks for the stimulating question.