DEATH BY NOVEL: All this now too much for us...

TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 5, 2019

...directs us to dumbness by fable:
We've never really understood Robert Frost's Directive.

Written in 1947
, it's sometimes described as Frost's last great poem. That said, it starts as shown below. If we imagine Frost as our guide, we'll admit that he has us lost by the time he gets to those very large knees:
Back out of all this now too much for us,
Back in a time made simple by the loss
Of detail, burned, dissolved, and broken off
Like graveyard marble sculpture in the weather,
There is a house that is no more a house
Upon a farm that is no more a farm
And in a town that is no more a town.
The road there, if you'll let a guide direct you
Who only has at heart your getting lost,
May seem as if it should have been a quarry–
Great monolithic knees the former town
Long since gave up pretense of keeping covered...
Say what? How can a road "seem as if it should have been a quarry?" And where do the great monolithic knees fit in? To whom do the knees belong?

From that point on, we're lost. That said, we've been thinking about that opening imagery quite a bit of late:

"Back out of all this now too much for us?" As a society, hasn't "all this" clearly become "too much for us" by this point in time? Hasn't our time become too complex to navigate due to profusion of "detail?"

As the poem continues, our guide continues to direct us, apparently to a place where we can "drink and be whole again beyond confusion." We don't know what Frost is talking about. But it sounds like a good idea!

At any rate, our social confusion has been great in recent decades. Our liberal world's reaction to this has been to start crafting novels.

More precisely, we've been crafting simple-minded tales about race and sex which are little more complex than fables. Fables are perfectly fine in their place, but real-life events involve real people and real facts, and our tribe is increasingly sunk in the childish practice of rearranging basic facts to generate simple-minded escapes from our growing confusion.

So it has been when our dumbest upper-class news orgs have tried to react to Chanel Miller's memoir, Know My Name.

Miller's book is a very challenging text, and we don't mean that as a compliment. Miller herself is very young. But what is our tribe's excuse?

We'll try to complete our discussion of this topic in the next few days. If we exit the world of childish fable, it's hard to get one's arm around the absurdities of that widely-praised text.

The Atlantic tackles Directive: Back in 2017, Jezelle Lanie tackled Directive for The Atlantic. Lanie said she loves the poem "for its depiction of a grief so enormous and incomprehensible that it can only be understood through the story the speaker tells."

In Lanie's view, the speaker's story is "a story of the impossibility of wholeness and the inevitability of loss—of how humans’ carefully built structures of order and meaning must give way to the indifferent natural laws of death, erosion, and decay."

We've been within that regime for decades now. Especially at its upper ends, our tribe hasn't dealt with this well.

23 comments:

  1. "it's hard to get one's arm around the absurdities of that widely-praised text"

    I don't think anyone cares about that widely-praised text, or about the damsel-in-distress who's hoping to make money off of it.

    I bet even the reviewers haven't read it. I bet the reviews were written by the same ghostwriter who concocted the text itself. You've been played for a fool, dear Bob.

    ReplyDelete
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  2. Please only write things that make us feel good.

    ReplyDelete
  3. It’s rocks, Bob. Rocks.

    The road has been neglected, like the house and farm. Lots of rocks in the road, resembling a quarry, where you get rocks. The rocks are like uncovered knees.

    ReplyDelete
  4. “Sobriety divides, says no, and pushes away.
    Drunkenness affirms, says yes, an embraces. It is not mere coincidence that we pursue it.”
    - James Joyce

    Except of course, James Joyce never wrote such stuff, as far as I can tell. I saw it posted at a bar in Little Five points in Atlanta, where I was enjoying the local offerings and playing darts. And I’m paraphrasing the quote, and badly at that, but it was over twenty years ago. Good times.

    I’ve usually found the great poetry inscrutable, even though I’ve pretended to write poetry myself. The problem, I suppose, is that I usually try to make it rhyme in some way. Frost doesn’t rhyme for shit, that’s for sure.

    Hell, maybe he was thinking of a brothel for capitalists when he mentioned knees, who raped the town into oblivion. Quarry, after all, is prey. May have been? No, it was. The town, that is.

    I should read the rest of it now.

    Leroy

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  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  6. My attempt at poetry:

    It’s not by accident that childhood is known as
    The formative stage
    As our minds bend forward with the universe
    So shall they bend back
    Within our lifetimes bend back as well
    No matter what age
    But as we travel ahead, as we drift through the moiré
    It’s towards the end that we tack

    So long to get here, this point in time
    Cells of awareness, and partners in rhyme
    It's taken this long, the cells do divide
    from matter
    What matters, we seem to decide
    As we tack into the wind, and sail on memories

    ReplyDelete
  7. Frost's poem has nothing to do with Miller's book.

    Somerby is confused about both Frost's poem and Miller's book because he never learned to navigate the world of feelings, never learned to think abstractly or understand symbols or imagery. He is trapped is some autism spectrum disorder that keeps him befuddled by much of what people mean when they are not speaking literally.

    As a defense mechanism, he has learned to call others names. He calls others stupid and dishonest and off playing in the woods. He targets the people who make him feel worst (often solely by comparison), such as women, professors, journalists and other writers, people who understand physics and philosophy, and cable news pundits. And he really doesn't like liberals. He knows he is less than each of these groups, so he finds silly nitpicks and specious criticisms that justify his name-calling, all in service of propping up his ego.

    No one reads Robert Frost any more, for good reason. That said, Frost appeals mostly to men. He wrote at a time when women weren't allowed in the poet's club. Not surprising Somerby keeps quoting him -- of course, he was probably assigned reading back when Somerby took his intro American Literature class at Harvard.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Whatever Frost's poem is about, it isn't about liberal dumbness.

      Delete
  8. Here is some of the bad stuff Republicans and Trump are doing today:

    1. Threatening to close the government as a protest of impeachment.

    2. Privatizing concessions in the national parks, eliminating senior discounts, allowing Amazon to deliver packages to campgrounds.

    3. Paying survey companies to recruit anti-impeachment voters to jam Democratic office phone lines with scripted calls.

    4. Trump has designated November as Native American Heritage month and also National American History and Founder's month.

    Rolling Stone says: "If it weren’t for a passing reference to the “victories of the Civil Rights Movement,” it would be easy to argue that with the National American History and Founders Month Trump was trying to deliver for the plurality of his supporters — 37 percent, per a 2018 poll — who believe there ought to be a “White History Month.” '

    Every day there is some new atrocity.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That doesn't seem that bad. Compared to Obama's disaster in Libya or Bush lying about weapons of mass destruction or both party's subservience to the various industrial complexes. I mean really, concession stands?

      Both parties are only pretending to have your interests in mind while they oversee furthering the enormous divide between rich and poor at your and your family's expense.

      Delete
    2. Concession stands are just distractions from the real game.

      Delete
    3. Concession stands are not really that important winning the entire government, both sides are corrupt to the core.

      Delete
    4. The concessions are the vendors who supply food and run hotels in the national parks, not those who sell hot dogs at sports events. Do you want a Disneyland-like attraction in the middle of Yosemite? That's what is at stake.

      Delete
    5. More ho-hum, than horror, Mao. Just another giveaway by Republicans/ Trump to the Establishment Elite. Must be a day that ends in "y".

      Delete
    6. 10:29,
      Your complaints about both parties subservience to various industrial complexes, is a fine reason to either ignore Sen. Warren, or at least call her "Pocahontas".

      Delete
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  12. HOW I GOT MY HUSBAND BACK WITH THE HELP OF PRIEST WISDOM CONTACT ON WHATS_APP NUMBER +2348124644470

    This is my testimony about the good work of priest wisdom who help me.... I'm Ann Earnis from north Carolina USA. And am sorry for putting this on net but i will have to, by this world best spell caster that brought back my husband who left me out for past 3 years, i eventually met this man on a blog site posting by one of is client for help, i explained everything to him and he told me about a spell caster that he had heard about and he gave me an email address to write to the spell caster to tell him my problems. In just 1 days, my husband was back to me. I just want to say thank you to this truthful and sincere spell caster, sir all you told me have come to pass and thank you sir. Please i want to tell everyone who is looking for any solution to their problem, i advice you to kindly consult this spell caster, he is real,he is powerful and whatever the spell caster tell is what will happen, because all what the spell caster told me came to pass. You can kindly contact him on: his email address is supernaturalspell1@gmail.com or directly on whats-app +2348124644470 or call. PRIEST WISDOM Blog   http://reallovespellcaster.over-blog.com

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