Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Community & Poetry

O.K., here’s the bit on poetry and community by Lisa Robertson I was thinking of:
“This word community is a common currency right now in poetry blogs and certain bars. Community’s presence or absence, failure, responsibility, supportiveness, etc—everyone is hovering around this word. It could be that I just feel its ubiquity since I moved to rural France from Vancouver, ostensibly away from ‘my community.’ When I think about it from here I feel ambivalent. I don’t miss community at all. I do miss my friends. How much of this notion of community is an abstraction of the real texture of friendship, with all its complicated drives and expressions—erotic, conversational, culinary, all the bodily cultures concentrated in a twisty relation between finite, failing persons. When I try to think of what a friend is, I imagine these activities we pleasurably share with someone we love—grooming, reading, sleeping, sex perhaps but not necessarily, intellectual argument, the exchange of books, garments and kitchen implements, all these exchanges and interweavings that slowly transform to become an idea and then a culture. Or a culture first, a culture of friends, and then an idea. Or both simultaneously. Writing is an extension and expression of friendship. Maybe friendship is more dangerous to think about and talk about because of its corporal erotics, mostly not institutionalized, not abstracted into an overarching concept and structure of collective protocols. For me, the drive to talk, to be in a room with someone I want to laugh or dance or fight with, to feed, all of those things—this has more to do with how writing happens for me, and also how I receive others’ writing, than community does. I think my friends have become models and incentives for my relationships with books and writing. Certainly I primarily write to my friends and for them, seeking to please and delight them above all, and sometimes mysteriously and painfully falling out. But I don’t want to call this community. I want to preserve the dark body of friendship.”

—Lisa Robertson, from Dispatch from Jouhet,
Then later, from the same piece:
“Is the idea of community in collective cultural life replacing the broader notion of a participatory public politics? Is our sense of broader collective agency being reduced to the limited scopes our most immediate productive microcosms and economies? I think that maybe the political disempowerment experienced by huge swathes of populations in the United States certainly, but everywhere, under the expansion of the global neo-liberal economy, is gradually causing us to act out our political drives within smaller and smaller circles. I have to say that for me the micro-economy of experimental writing or visual culture does not in itself constitute the polis. I can’t pretend the stakes correspond. And I don’t want to euphemize the complicated bodily texture of my specific relationships in writing and thinking.”

1 comment:

DUSIE said...

and yr community definitely arises from the 70's child!!!! friendship bracelets need a comeback!