[ilds] Re all gone mainstream?

James Gifford james.d.gifford at gmail.com
Tue May 5 14:13:33 PDT 2015

I'd add a significant proviso, that is, if the comparison is to the kind 
of correspondence and small periodical networks I go through in 
/Personal Modernisms/.  How many of us active subscribe to periodicals 
with a distribution of under 200?  Small audiences mean less risk for 
experimentation -- bigger audiences, with bigger investments and 
potential payoffs, encourage less risk taking, I believe.

I think we'd need to look to student publications, small literary 
magazines with a very limited distribution, and those eschewing 
commercial distribution for an aesthetic ambition.  While presses and 
committees, etc., all exert limitations on writers today, I do see 
plenty of experimental work -- I just don't seem them on bookstore 

By the same gesture, there are small presses producing beautiful work 
for collectors, since the expense is high.  The Barbarian Press is one 
instance here in BC, as is Greenboathouse Press.  I'd venture to guess 
no one on the list has ever heard of them.  The small press scene in 
Buffalo, NY, also seemed very much alive when I've made visits there.

Who would have thought, at the time, that someone 80 years or more down 
the road would be reading student poetry journals from Oxford or 
Cambridge?  Durrell and Miller both expressed surprise at the later 
resale value of The Booster & Delta...

All best,

On 2015-05-03 4:36 PM, Bruce Redwine wrote:
> I don’t read much contemporary literature, so I’m not one to make
> judgments.  Still, I don’t sense that we live in an age that compares
> favorably with the late flowering of writers who lived during the
> 1930s-1960s, the period covered by Gifford’s /Personal Modernisms/
> (2014).  Some exceptions, of course, (Pynchon, DeLillo, Borges,
> Márquez), but the major writers are simply not around anymore.  As to
> what constitutes art, I’ll offer two views relevant to this Listserv.
>   In his /Big Sur/ book (1957), Miller decries that we live in an age
> where people do not take art to be “the primary moving force in their
> lives.”  This is not a definition; it’s a religious statement.  Durrell
> gets more technical.  In his 1957 review of Pound’s late /Cantos,/ he
> decries Pound’s incomprehensibility and lack of form.  Durrell knows art
> when he sees it, and Pound fails the test.  Billy Apt may like this.
>   Nevertheless, no matter their many faults, Miller and Durrell took
> their art very seriously — it was a religious vocation — and this gave
> their writings great power.
> Bruce
>> On May 3, 2015, at 1:50 PM, Robin W Collins <robin.w.collins at gmail.com
>> <mailto:robin.w.collins at gmail.com>> wrote:
>> I'd have to disagree. Maybe the barricades have changed as have the
>> debates, but there's a pretty good contemporary divide that rivals
>> that of the 30s and 40s. It's not reds vs fascists or reds vs
>> anarchists or quite the same Left vs Right split or a the itentical
>> split within the Left but it's a pretty good fight. Free speech,
>> religious dogmatism, blood and identity politics.
>> On one side Rushdie and McEwan and Amis (and the deceased Hitchens)
>> and many nervous nellies on the other side. The current split within
>> PEN over Charlie Hebdo recognition is part of the same and is as good
>> as it gets, maybe even more complex than yore. Read Katha Pollitt's
>> piece in The Nation in support of the PEN award. A good old fashioned
>> fistacuffs.  And on we go...
>> Robin
>>> Message: 2
>>> Date: Sun, 3 May 2015 07:48:10 +1000
>>> From: "Denise Tart & David Green" <dtart at bigpond.net.au
>>> <mailto:dtart at bigpond.net.au>>
>>> Bruce
>>> Ha, the artists have all gone mainstream. They are on the public
>>> payroll (arts grants) or sustained by university tenure (nothing
>>> against unis, when there once meself)
>>> Either that or they are all on Twitter or Facebook. It is all very
>>> bourgeois and many do not have much to say in case they offend
>>> someone BUT you can write about climate change, or evil capitalists
>>> or governments being mean to migrants or indigenous people or you can
>>> write clever little poems to be read by your friends and softly
>>> applauded. When the Australian poet Les Murray countered this in 'Sub
>>> Human Redneck Poems' he was cast into outer darkness which doesn't
>>> really bother Les as he feels better when people are not around. WE
>>> live in a depoliticized world, at least in the west. The corporations
>>> and the Institutions have taken over. The fascist communist polarity
>>> as been replaced by the beige pursuit of cars with GPS,
>>> superannuation funds and the wellness industry. Where are today's
>>> Celines, Henry MIllers, Lawrence Durrells, Charles Bukowskis??? aye,
>>> where are they? There was this French guy, Houllebeck or something,
>>> but they ran him out of town. He's hiding in Ireland!
>>  d!
>>> rinking Guinness. So here's to Larry and the lads (and Lasses) they
>>> did good back then. Who's writing today's Air-conditioned Nightmare
>>> or Justine?? maybe you know James?? In the meantime I am going to buy
>>> a racing bike and start...
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