We Have Communication Sickness
This is a continuation of my posting The Poetry of Vertigo. From the same article in Poetry Magazine, page 440:
In the context of our time and place, this artistic focus – of speed and rapid (or no) transition – makes perfect sense. After all, our economic culture specializes in two things: surfeit and counterfeit. The lack of relative scale between the component parts of our existence, the swamp of excess information in which we every day swim, and our paradoxical lack of influence on that world – they make us ill. We have communication sickness. Add to that our drastically increased sense of the corruption of commercial and political speech, and the instability of language – surely our resulting collective dizziness is a fundamental symptom of modern life, one to which poems naturally refer.
I would only change his reference from modern life to postmodern life. Modern life produced what he calls Type A poetry. Postmodern produces Type B – the poetry of vertigo. Or as the existentialists refer to it: nausea or absurdity. This is what the cubists painted.
He has some other choice passages:
- The omnipresence of media manipulation.
- The impersonal, bossy, chill of bureaucratic speech.
- A homogeneity of disruptiveness.
- The absurdity and pathos of human ignorance, and the echoing vacancy of the social landscape.
- Is this assertion of quantity and momentum a kind of correction for the general helplessness of our situation? It is reflective of a new aesthetics of “confrontation,” which strives to overwhelm with velocity and facility?
No wonder we don’t like poetry – it tells us too much about ourselves.