Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Aimless Reading: The B's, Part 52.1 (Basil Bunting)

Bunting, Basil
Basil Bunting on Poetry

Purchased, I think, online and, I think, around the same time I purchased Bunting's Complete Poems. The jacket flap inserted halfway through the book, at the beginning of a talk on Ezra Pound, indicates one of two things. Either I read half the book and stopped at the talk on Pound, or I opened the book to the talk on Pound, and closed the book again until now. Either way, I have no recollection. None whatsoever. Zip.

From The Codex:

It seems to me that the language of criticism, the language of grammar and prosody, in this country and perhaps in all countries, is full of words imported from Latin, Greek, and other learned languages, such as men normally use when they want to make vague statements sound precise, or when they want to make remote generalities seem relevant. Generalization of course is the method of mathematics, and has been so successful in its proper place that people expect it to succeed wherever it's possible to apply it, with whatever violence. But the arts are recalcitrant to generalization. All you can usually say about a poem or a picture is, "Look at it, listen to it." Whether you listen to a piece of music, or look at a picture or a jug, or a piece of sculpture, what matters about it is not what it has in common with others of its kind, but what is singularly its own. It's not conformity to a type that makes the work of art valuable, but its difference from other works of art.

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