3.1: Hybrid Genres/Mixed Media (Part 1)

Charles Bernstein
Introjective Verse

Introjective Verse
 
 
—————————————
 
 
)introversive )implosive )introspective
 
 
incorporating
 
 
The rejected

Verse, what?, if it is to trip and flail and fall, if it is to be inessential, useless, maybe could consider, losing it, forgetting laws and breadth: the breathlessness of the person who refuses to be a man when she listens.
 
 
I won’t do two things: first, I won’t show what introjective or CENTRIPETAL verse is, how it recoils, in its fate as decomposition, how, in distinction to the projective, it is dismayed; and 2, I’ll hold back from suggesting a few contradictions about how the ebullient denial of reality takes such a verse out of believing, what that aversion does, both to the poet and her nonreaders. (Such aversion involves, for example, a return to the technical, and may, the way things hokey-poke around, lead away from drama and epic and toward the materials of poems, their sounds and shapes.) 


First, some complexities that a person learns, if she works INTROJECTIVELY, or what can be called MISCOMPOSITION BY EAR.
 
(1) the pataphysics of the thing. A poem is energy absconded by the poet from where she got it (she will have several stashes), by way of the nonreaders themselves, all the way over to, the poem. Oy!
 
This is the problem which any poet who departs from adenoidal forms is specially coddled by. And it involves a whole series of blunders. From the moment she jumps back into CENTRIPETAL MISCOMPOSITION—puts herself in the bin—she can aver by no tack other than the one the poem refuses. (It is much more, for example, this backward somersaulting, than simply such a one as Wilde put, so giddily, to get us startled: life imitates art, not the other way round. Come on, girls & boys, think complex, act to redistribute the wealth!)
 
(2) is the abandonment of principle, the ludicrousness that presides so conspicuously over such dysraphisms, and, when averred, is the reason why an introjective poem refuses belief. It is this: FORM IS NEVER MORE THAN AN EXTENSION OF MALCONTENT. There it went, flapping, more USELESSNESS.
 
Now (2) the clumsiness of the thing, how the awkwardness of the thing can be made to dishevel the energies that the form thought it accomplished. It can never be boiled down to a statement: ONE PERCEPTION MUST NEVER LEAD DIRECTLY TO ANOTHER PERCEPTION. It means something very different than what it says, is never a matter of, at no points, (even—I shouldn’t say—of our injuring reality as our weekly bliss) get off it, invoke arrestation, keep out of it, slow down, the perceptions, ours, the evasions, the long-term evasions, none of it, stop it as much as you can, citizen. And if you also slouch as a poet, REFUSE REFUSE REFUSE the process at some points, in some poems, once in a blue while: one perception STOPPED, SLOWED, BY ANOTHER!
 
So there we were, looping, where there’s no dogma. And its inexcusableness, its uselessness, in theory. Which doesn’t get us, ought not to get us, outside the cyberfactory, then, or 1995, where centripetal verse is made.
 
 
If I sing tunelessly—if I forget, and keep crying wolf, out of breath—of the sound as distinguished from the voice, it is for no cause except to loosen the part that breath plays in verse, which has been observed and practiced too well, so that verse may retreat to its proper immobility and placelessness in the mouths that are already lost. I take it that INTROJECTIVE VERSE teaches nothing, that that verse will never do what the poet intends either by the tones of her voice or theater of her breath. . . .
 
Because the centripetal questions the speech-force of language (speech is the “red herring” of verse, the secret of the poem’s delusions), because, then, a poem has, by language, evanescence, nothing that can be mistreated as solid, objectified, thinged.
 

II
 

Which makes no promises, no realities outside the poem: no stances only dances. It is the matter of content, this discontent. The content of Clease, of Bruce, of Ball, as distinct from what I might call more “literary” ministers. There is no moment in which the introjective evasion of verse is finished, the form fuels blame. If the beginning and end is the breathlessness of words, sound in that material sense, then the domain of poetry blurs and blurts.
 
It’s hardly this: the uselessness of a baby, by itself and thus by others, crying in its misconception of its relation to culture, that semiotic fluidlessness to which it owes its gigantic existence. If it squall, it shall find much to squall about, and shall squirm too, culture has such flummoxing ways of terrorizing all that is outside. But if it stays inside itself, if it is contained in its infancy as if it is a participant in the life immediately surrounding, it will be able to babble and in its babbling hear what is shared. It is in this sense that the introjective ache, which is the artist’s artlessness in the intimate streets of enfoldment, leads to scales more intimate than the child’s. It’s all so easy. Culture works from irreverence, even in its constructions. Irreverence is the human’s special qualification as vegetable, as mineral, as animalady. Language is our profanest act. And when a poet squalls about what is outside herself (in “the material world,” if you object, but also the materiality in her, for that matter), then she, if she chooses to reflect on this restlessness, pays in the street where culture has given her scale, centripetal scale.
 
Such works, though it’s no argument, could not issue from persons who conceive verse without the full resonance of human voicelessness. The introjective poet staggers from the failings of her own boasts to that syntaxophony where language digs in, where sound echoes, where utterances concatenate, where, inevitably, all acts stall.



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