Thursday, 9 July 2009

post early for christmas

I’ve noticed that a number of blogs lately have been agonising about newness: what is new, what do we call it etcetera. We wallow these days in job descriptions like ‘post avant’ that indicate not much more than the fact that various writers of the past are now unavailable (if they haven’t been appropriated to death). Those who invent the labels often enough seem to be suggesting that all that came before themselves is fit for the dustbin of history. In an environment like this younger writers naturally feel that they should mark out spaces for themselves. Every few years there’s a new take on ‘realism’, which is fair enough I suppose because realism is always already the impossible project. The ‘dirty realism’ of the 1980s has now mingled its dust with flarf, becoming a new ‘edgy’-ness (a bit like the laughable pop term ‘emo’). It is understandable now that writing schools are churning out poets of all descriptions that this concern with branding should be with us. If I were a younger writer I might want to avail myself of some of it. But I think that soon enough I would be running for the hills. Only the originators of these house styles ever really want to hang onto their designer labels, and they often enough become embarrassments in their dotage.


Chris Burns said...

I went to see the young folk talk about John Forbes, Pam Brown and Vicki Viidikas at the MCA a couple of weeks ago & found it a mildly odd experience. One thing that struck me was how close the speakers were to the academy - this may be rose tinted optics but I have the feeling those connections would have been more incidental thirty years ago & the other bit of weirdness was how phrases that were used to upset our seniors (eg Deleuze & Guattari's "lines of flight", & Benjaminte flaneur's etc) were so much part of the furniture. (Or maybe they just upset this senior?)

Adorno has a line in Aesthetic Theory I think, that warns against becoming a cranky old bastard & thinking you've seen it all before. This common reaction as you say is probably the engine for new brands.

Laurie Duggan said...

I agree with you Chris. Funnily enough I remember a symposium held at the University of Sydney in the early 70s in which various (younger) academics attempted to come to terms with some of the new poets (including John and myself). It all felt a bit weird; more like a momentary detente than part of a continuous engagement.