Another Acquisition

Picked this up today

Because I like (some) poetry for one and I like to expand my understanding of language and use. Should be a fun read!


11 thoughts on “Another Acquisition

  1. In graduate school, the first paper I ever wrote was a ten-pager on Steven’s poem, A High-Toned Old Christian Woman.* The class was Literary Criticism** and I took three quarters of it (the max offered) because the instructor was more like a philosopher than an English teacher and his classes were so mentally stimulating they became an addiction.

    Of course, I had read and had written about poetry as an undergraduate, but I’d never analyzed a poem as thoroughly before. That’s when that literary form really began to make sense to me as an art.


    The class was not just about poetry. Its organizing principle was the history of aesthetic theory in Western civilization.

    1. One wonders what Stevens would think of the bawdiness this many years later. It probably had some smack, or value to shock, almost a hundred years ago. Now, my first thought is” Madame, for God’s sake, cross your legs and conceal that cooch!”

      1. I quip, but I do acknowledge his skill with words sans what he is trying to say. Which is actually pretty clear, I believe. Perhaps it is easier two generations after the sexual revolution and in post-Christian society.

  2. I hear you. “Squiggling of saxophones” = jazz (relatively new when Stevens wrote the poem) = THE DEVIL’S MUSIC !!! (according to the generation of the woman being addressed in the poem).

    1. Little did those poor women know. If they knew young people would be listening to Cannibal Corpse’s (don’t bother giving it a listen, I am telling you it is noise, shit and junk) Fucked with a Knife, or Post Mortal Ejaculation, in the future, they would have died on the spot.

      One wonders (when the sound of jazz can bore one in an elevator nowadays) what they heard that was diabolical – for surely we, now, know that was not diabolical because we have actually heard diabolical music!

      Of course it is purposefully meant to sound diabolical. a significant part of the population is still screaming down the woman from that poem though even her ghost has dimmed and faded away.

      The case was better against rock music although find someone that can still hear something sinister in Chuck Berry – I am going to segue into another comment below…

  3. Of the Devils’s Music. I was having, years ago, many years ago, a conversation with a fellow Objectivist about rock music. His view was that it was bad for society in the ideas and ideals (he called them anti-ideals and sometimes they are) that it generally advocated – sex, drugs, violence, etc. I didn’t hold to the same view, although I agreed romanticizing such things to impressionable youths is doing no one any favors. But he took the form itself as a sign of social decline.

    I argued it was a victim of social decline. And the vast stupidity of it was not inherent, but a reflection of an increasingly stupid culture.

    Not all things that make up a time are not of necessity tied. Rock music was largely a technological advance. If we put the discoveries of Volta, Faraday and others a century earlier than they happened, likely the electric guitar would have been invented that much earlier. And, perhaps, the music that would have been made around it would have been around subjects like mining and railroads and putting down those rascally Indians. It is just like the advances in rhythm, notation and polyphony in the middle ages were put in the service, predominantly, of religious music and sentiments.

    Can you imagine how ridiculous music would have been with electricity back in the Gregorian chant era?

  4. “You can’t just bend notes like that! It’s unnatural, I tell you! And don’t get me started on those jungle rhythms….”

    I guess the questions are: How far can the note be bent? When does art slide into decadence? Who defines decadence? Can things considered decadent be used as artistic elements in a larger work?

    I once knew someone who said Eastwood’s “Unforgiven” was a terrible movie because there were no real “good guys” in it.

    1. All great questions (except the string bending one; the answer to that is: up to the point before it snaps) perhaps I’ll post them as discussion questions next week.

      We used to have people pop over here once in a while from Mr. Wright’s site but he has since moved his comment sections onto Disqus so it has been pretty quiet… not that it was ever very loud.

  5. I must confess my own prudishness. Although I’ve heard every verbal vulgarity known to the saltiest drill instructor, I’m always irked by guys casually — and in most such cases, frequently — using the F word around women and children.

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