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InvisibleCosmicJokeM
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Registered: 04/06/00
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A Critique on American Spirit
    #426629 - 10/15/01 09:12 PM (15 years, 1 month ago)

by me, a midterm for my critical approach to poetry class, i got an A.

_American Criticism Within the Works of Whitman and Williams_

I think that most prose writers aren't aware that the sentence they write has a sound? That is, most prose writers aren't even concerned with sound in prose. I see it as rarely written with the knowledge that it was a sentence which could be spoken aloud, and rarely with the knowledge that it was a sentence which should be spoken with the every day spoken language of the native country as opposed to some prickley-edged, stuffed-shirt academician's literary language. Very rarely have I found a prose writer who has the knowledge that total vernacular spoken aloud has a sound quality. Thus, it is my opinion that Walt Whitman and William Carlos William's prose poetry, in which I feel the poets listen to their own sentences as if they were musicall, rhythmical constructions and could follow through with their paragraph as if though it was something of a musical jam session, are indeed a critique of the plastic, monotone conformity influenced by academics in American prose.
Within Whitman and Williams, I find prose paragraphs and prose sentences that represent their own speech rhythms, or chosen American speech rhythms. They are written out of their actual body rhythm, from some actual rhythm of real speech. They have the quality of traditional folklore and music, using the actual rhythm from real speech, comparable to that of an old taleteller. Without that sense of oral tradition within poetry, which is tied intimately to the rhythm of one's own body and speech, the result is less-than-real corporate sounding impersonal bullshit. It's a prose that doesn't proceed from anybody, and thus has the bureaucratic prose that comes from an assignment, something that is commercially viable. I'm not only talking about the cheeky, cheery junk that ends up on hallmark cards, but all the high-sounding wordy academic poetry that is so impersonal that it no longer represents any individual human spirit.
The point I shall argue is that there is a tradition of poetry in which the Spirit of America lives in us, not us in "America". This prose is completely personal, it comes from the writer's own person - his person defined as his body, his breathing rhythm, his actual talk. The word person there is taken from the context of Walt Whitman, who talks about "What we need is large conscious American Persons," as distinct from land-markers of longitude and latitude which define us as American citizens, or subjects, or marketing-research digits.
When I think of Whitman, I get a sort of noble ideal American open-minded sensibility, open road, open energy, with some flaws in it, and some contradictions, but nothing unresovable by common sense. His spirit shines through his words, and I think the essence of his character is rapturous, sensory self-rewarding, here and now, happy go-lucky nut. In _Song of Myself_, I think that Whitman is criticizing the moral superiority of the soul over the flesh, an idea that is prevalent throughout Western thought and orthodox Christianity. Listen to the line "The smoke of my own breath, Echoes, ripples, and buzzed whisppers... . Loveroot, silkthread, crotch and vine, My respiration and inspiration... the beating of my heart... . . the passing of blood and air through my lungs, The sniff of greeen leaves and dry leaves, and of the shore and darkcolored sea-rocks, and of hay in the barn, The sound of the belched words of my voice... words loosed to the eddies of the wind". The ecstatic moment which seems to roll off the tongue of his mind seems almost daunting to the mundane reader. It's entirely erotic, entirely daunting, and yet even though critical it's also inviting. Again, another line speaks "Stop this day and night with me and you shall possess the origins of all poems." I believe in _Song of Myself_, Whitman is making a criticism on how dispassionate and dull-sensed Americans are by his overtly erotic and rapturous celebration of himself.

In the poem _The Clouds_, by William Carlos Williams, the subject is clouds of imagination, vagueness of imagination, what happens to your discourse if your mind is up in the clouds. It's like when you are talking about something, but you really haven't paid attention to any of the detail. It's when you're not paying attention to detail, when you're not "present" whre you are, if you're not making use of minute particulars, or if your indulging with ideas without things, as said by Williams "No ideas but in things." I think this is a definite criticism of America today, and can offer examplese of our very poetry class to prove it. When reading a poem, a classmate may say "In poetry, water usually symbolizes life and rocks symbolize stagnation in life", as a model for interpreting the poem at hand. The model, however, is so far removed from the poem at hand that it becomes merely a way of reacting to the poetry as opposed to staying in the moment and directly perceiving the information that is there at hand. Life and water and rocks and stagnation are only analogies in light of the poetry they've read. Imatgine all the poetry out there they haven't read. And now they're interpreting it the same way as a strategy that worked in an earlier poem. Imagine ghetto poetry, in it a rock probably symbolizes crack cocaine. Obviously, poetry doesn't work that way. And that's the clouds that Williams is trying to illustrate.

Whitman and Williams critique America in their poetry, but it doesn't lack American spirit. I think that any true spirit has the ability to look at things as a whole, which includes both the good and the bad. Thus their poetry can be spoken from the heart of the American language and still make a social commentary.


--------------------
Everything is better than it was the last time.  I'm good.

If we could look into each others hearts, and understand the unique challenges each of us faces, I think we would treat each other much more gently, with more love, patience, tolerance, and care.

It takes a lot of courage to go out there and radiate your essence.

I know you scared, you should ask us if we scared too.  If you was there, and we just knew you cared too.


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InvisibleCosmicJokeM
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Registered: 04/06/00
Posts: 10,183
Loc: Portland, OR
Re: A Critique on American Spirit [Re: CosmicJoke]
    #426647 - 10/15/01 09:28 PM (15 years, 1 month ago)

ironically, it's my ego that gets quite a kick out of this paper. i wrote it 2 hours before it was due, without knowing my topic at all or having prepared or done any work for the class. i was stoned at the time, took 2 cigarette breaks, ran into classroom to turn the paper in 15 minutes late and the professor commented that "walking into class late is rude" and i nonchalantly sat the paper on his desk and sat down without looking at him or making a comment.

the comments on my paper are "Wow! Fascinating thesis!" "great writing" and "Fantastic and interesting and dynamic essay. Exciting and subversive stuff here: good."

and he was very disappointed in most people's essays, who spent 10 fold as much time as me, and the majority of the kids had to stay after class to speak with him.

i think this essay is bullshit - that's the story of my life, i shit on a plate and other people eat it up wanting seconds.
what's wrong with me? i want to know my real talents, but they only come through frustration and challenge and growth! people like what comes retardedly natural from me, my simple, undeveloped observations. and in this rat race, i rarely find the time to do the work i love for myself.


--------------------
Everything is better than it was the last time.  I'm good.

If we could look into each others hearts, and understand the unique challenges each of us faces, I think we would treat each other much more gently, with more love, patience, tolerance, and care.

It takes a lot of courage to go out there and radiate your essence.

I know you scared, you should ask us if we scared too.  If you was there, and we just knew you cared too.


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Offlinethe universe
Harbinger ofEldritch Despair
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Registered: 03/11/99
Posts: 1,456
Loc: Under your bed
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Re: A Critique on American Spirit [Re: CosmicJoke]
    #426872 - 10/16/01 12:53 AM (15 years, 1 month ago)

yeah, your whole thing with the "American Spirit" is total bs. But evidently you have a knack for covering it with enough nice packaging to get people to like it as much as they do Britney Spears. Plus your ego is so dauntingly huge that others are intimidated by it and can't look directly at it so they sometimes just assume that there's good reason for it's non-regulation size. And we all know what happens when you assume. Of course that's what I'm doing now but at least I admit it ;)


--------------------
"If you had a million years to do it in, you couldn't rub out even half the 'Fuck you' signs in the world."- J. D. Salinger


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InvisibleCosmicJokeM
happy mutant
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Registered: 04/06/00
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Re: A Critique on American Spirit [Re: the universe]
    #427464 - 10/16/01 04:36 PM (15 years, 1 month ago)

No, I'd disagree that the thing with American Spirit is bs, that's about all I feel is true - Walt Whitman and William Carlos Williams' come from the same tradition that you'll find prose writers like Jack Kerouac writing with. That is, speech patterns that represent the rhythm of the body with personal, intimate sound quality. I think the thesis of the paper is excellent, because that's the way I FELT from reading it compared to other poets within the class, I had an INSTANT connection with the poets. But, the rest of the paper disgusts me because I took what was most obvious and easy to me and wasn't able to dig deeply - I only had two hours. This is the way it always is, because when you have 18 hours of class, you just don't have TIME to dig deeply. I could spend 18 hours on poetry alone for a year! The same with my new Testament class.
The school system is absurd, and I'm dumb and irresponsible for not having quit and found one that truly represents my interests years ago.

your right, my ego is dauntingly huge.... and when I make a public speech and my profs. yell out "wow! i believe in CJ! i want to follow CJ! I wonder what CJ keeps inside his backpack?" as the rest of the audience is roaring with laughter at the outrageous things i'm doing...(which are fun and entertaining, but only 1/10th of what I could be doing had I DONE THE WORK) it just doesn't help at all. i like the attention..... i like being utterly lazy and selfish and getting myself into last minute crisis and coming out the very top dog.... and it happens ALL THE TIME.

I always get highly rewarded for my poor work, on the basis that I have a bit of natural insight which apparently only a few people in this world have.
I'd like to know what it means!


--------------------
Everything is better than it was the last time.  I'm good.

If we could look into each others hearts, and understand the unique challenges each of us faces, I think we would treat each other much more gently, with more love, patience, tolerance, and care.

It takes a lot of courage to go out there and radiate your essence.

I know you scared, you should ask us if we scared too.  If you was there, and we just knew you cared too.


Edited by CosmicJoke (10/16/01 05:41 PM)


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Anonymous

Re: A Critique on American Spirit [Re: CosmicJoke]
    #427529 - 10/16/01 05:35 PM (15 years, 1 month ago)

It means that you are an advanced thinker who finds the standards set by society to be unimpressive so you give them 10% and they love it .
Try giving 100%... use it all.


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OfflineDinoMyc
Ipsa scientiapotestas est
Registered: 11/14/99
Posts: 1,080
Last seen: 10 years, 5 months
Re: A Critique on American Spirit [Re: CosmicJoke]
    #427554 - 10/16/01 05:57 PM (15 years, 1 month ago)

I am guessing this was for High School..
If this had been handed in for any college level course it would have failed.

Poor!! grammar, extremely short (although length is by no means a measure of quality), extremely personalized thesis, late explicit thesis inconsistent with prior thesis, no development, incomplete/missing analysis of quoted material.. etc etc..
Prose/poetry in indefinite vernacular is by no means uncommon: Shakespeare, for one, made common use of it within his works, both for humorous effect and proper contextual development of the world he describes.

It may be a start, if you could develop and justify it, but in its present form it's far from it.

Don't let your ego cloud your judgment; keep practicing, read quality work, and you may well find yourself finally capable of a praiseworthy piece.

You may be able to fool your High School English teacher, or even a lesser quality English professor, but do not allow yourself to be fooled.

Sorry if you get pissed over my response, but someone needs to tell you.
Don?t flame; if you have a problem PM me.


--------------------
If I made affront, I apologize.
If I made affirmation, I apologize.
I merely came to listen, came to say.


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InvisibleCosmicJokeM
happy mutant
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Registered: 04/06/00
Posts: 10,183
Loc: Portland, OR
Re: A Critique on American Spirit [Re: DinoMyc]
    #427681 - 10/16/01 08:15 PM (15 years, 1 month ago)

It was handed in for a college level class on critical approach to poetry at Ohio University.
Of course it should have failed! Nobody can not have or know a topic until 2 hours before a paper is due (that we were given 2 and a half weeks to prepare for), write it through without overlooking it once, and run into class 15 minutes late and slap it on the profs. desk and get the highest grade in the class - EXCEPT ME.
Now, the poetry prof. is a goofball, he's under 30 years old. He takes all the joy and feeling out of poetry, he reads without care and sensitivity - each word sounds like a rock going "kathud". He even stops reading to annotate poems that we're reading for the first time! He makes everyone feel good about their commentaries, no matter how awful and shallow they are. It's like being on Oprah and his class is Oprah's poetry club. To be blunt, it's retarded. I only attend class because attendance is mandatory. I'd far prefer to study the poetry independently, in which I surely would be self-motivated to do good work.

I understand that the paper was bad. I have written many scholarly praise-worthy pieces. I have good writing skills, but there's only so much one can do in two hours. I don't think it's a bad 2hr on your mark, get set, go! draft - but far from anything I'd be proud of. But I admit, the ego doesn't mind the suck up compliments - but obviously the consience gets to me after awhile.

I'm just very let down with academics at this point in my life and don't find it to be the motivating vehicle for my own development. I could by far use the time better independently. I cannot even communicate effectively with my psychology and philosophy department, my majors, anymore. There are several profs. in the anthropology and creative writing departments who I receive positive feedback from - for instance, I could discuss valuably James Joyce _Ulysses_ from the standpoint of two friends (those profs. are actually FRIENDS, which is a pre-req for me to WORK with somebody, somebody who I can RELATE with) with the creative writing profs. and value my position as a student because it was an uplifting and motivating experience.

I'm not fooled, just disappointed. This poetry class has NOTHING to offer me. It's a waste of my time. I don't want to use it to learn, I'd just rather learn - I'd rather have somebody help me learn what I want to learn about who I really relate with on a one-to-one basis. There are schools out there like this, like Goddard College in Vermont (the band Phish went there) - I should have transfered this last year, but I became too comfortable here in OH.

oh well, in any case - your comments are all valid. absolutely valid. bad paper. it doesn't hurt that you've reconfirmed it. probably a good thing.
peace


--------------------
Everything is better than it was the last time.  I'm good.

If we could look into each others hearts, and understand the unique challenges each of us faces, I think we would treat each other much more gently, with more love, patience, tolerance, and care.

It takes a lot of courage to go out there and radiate your essence.

I know you scared, you should ask us if we scared too.  If you was there, and we just knew you cared too.


Post Extras: Print Post  Remind Me! Notify Moderator
OfflineStrangeDays
Bob
Registered: 10/27/98
Posts: 160
Last seen: 12 years, 1 month
Re: A Critique on American Spirit [Re: CosmicJoke]
    #427964 - 10/17/01 01:02 AM (15 years, 1 month ago)

:),:( ? :) lol.

-the cryptic one.


Edited by StrangeDays (10/17/01 01:06 AM)


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