X Marks the Parataxis: Louis Armand, John Kinsella and Jessica L Wilkinson

By | 1 May 2014

Having said all this, that is not to say that a work of art cannot be born out of political feeling. Sexual politics. Sexual freedom (not the same thing as ‘free sex’, which does not exist). Armand turns Marilyn Monroe into a common noun: ‘flashing a hundred-thousand / Marilyn Monroes’ (A 88). Judy Garland, much more famous today than Marion Davies, especially as a ‘gay icon’, is summoned up at the birth of the gay rights’ movement in Ausland (the riot at Stonewall Inn was 45 years ago in February):

Was that really you, at the Stonewall the night
Judy Garland died? You looked younger then.
Dancing the can-can in front of the riot squads. (A 81)

Poetry was once called gay science, which is what Nietzsche called one of his books. How sad that the English translator felt the need to go out of his way in 1974 (certainly not the Dark Ages as far as I am concerned) to point out that ‘gay’ does not mean homosexuality in this context, that Nietzsche’s sexual orientation was not implied, and that perhaps another translation of Nietzsche’s title was warranted. (Translation is a topic in itself. Suffice it to say here that Barthes’s translator often used to complain that when people said they read Barthes, they meant him.)

Then, in a post-censorship society, there is the banalisation of pornography (‘never believe a white guy / with a can of beer / and a porno / playing on his dvd’ [K 35]), which mimics the normalisation or ‘grooming’ found in advertising, especially that directed at, especially, young girls. A huge problem for feminists and anyone interested in basic human rights to combat. Kinsella quotes Irigaray in the original and in translation: ‘to speak is never neutral’ (K 66; emphasis in original).

Still, every day that a poetry book appears is a red-letter day. Louis Armand, John Kinsella and Jessica Wilkinson display the wisdom of the poet. Each poet has in his or her way added to the ‘equivalence of history and memory’. Sontag added that ‘[a]ll writing is a species of remembering’. If it seems that this essay has been a bit of a ramble, it is because X marks the ‘parataxis and phoenixes’ (K 86).

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