Wednesday, October 24, 2007

My response to Silliman's Simic piece

[I know, I 've written things critical about Simic on this blog before. Nonetheless, this is a critique of Silliman's critique of Simic:]

About "the trace of Other" in Simic: I find it peculiar for Ron to claim that Simic effaces it, as Ron noted himself, this is poetry with strong ties to Vasko Popa, so Ron himself has found in Simic a gateway to a non-american poetry lineage. That is hardly effacing the other. If anything, it seems to me Ron tries too hard to efface Simic's otherness by asserting his "quietism." I think Simic has had a very large effect on American poetry precisely by bringing in a certain kind of foreigness (though now that foreigness has become "foreigness" in some sense, a stable exotica).

As far as removing otherness from language - basically what Ron seems to be arguing is that Simic doesn't bring the "otherness" into his language the way a bunch of American poets would want that Otherness to show up. Seems a bit problematic for several reasons, not the least that that would in some ways efface otherness. Why would this be the correct way for the languages to interact? Would Ron be able to recognize every way in which Serbian could influence Simic's use of American English?

I think this is a key passage in Ron's entry:

"Simic struck me as a man with an accent that would have been fabulous to process through the careful oral annotation that was at the heart of Charles Olson’s projective methodology"

That is, it would not be fabulous to listen to this foreigner's ideas about poetry; it would be great to use him as a kind of test subject (who does the "processing" in this sentence? Seems, it's Ron &Co). Would the result even be poetry?

I too want to know what is "hard" Surrealism. The "soft surrealism" label seems to reek of American macho culture. Though I think in fact "soft surrealism" seems more interesting than hard surrealism. I think of Claes Oldenberg. Who wants to be Hard Surrealism?

Other than that, this seems like a perfectly reasonable critique of Simic's essay.


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