Wednesday, February 05, 2003

Bonzo spoken here

''...most American writers have lost the ability to even think politically, or nationally, or internationally. In all the anthologies and magazines devoted to 9/11 and its aftermath, nearly every single writer resorted to first-person anecdote: "It reminded me of the day my father died..." "I took an herbal bath and decided to call an old boyfriend..."Barely a one could imagine the event outside of the context of the prison cell of their own expressive self. (Or, on the avant-garde, it was a little too real for ironic pastiche from their expressive non-self.)

''We are where we are in part because American writers-- supposedly the most articulate members of society-- have generally had nothing to say about the world for the last 30 years. How many of those 8000 poets have ever been to a Third World country (excluding beach vacations)? How many think it worthwhile to translate something? How many can name a single contemporary poet, not living in the U.S., from Latin America or Africa or Asia? In short, how many know anything more about the world than George Bush knows?

''After thirty years of self-absorption in MFA and MLA career-mongering and knee-jerk demography and the personal as political and the impersonal as poetical, American writers now have the government we deserve. We were good Germans under Reagan and Bush I; we were never able to separate Clinton's person from his policies and gave him a complacent benefit of the doubt; and the result is Cheney and Rumsfeld and Ashcroft and Perle and Wolfowitz and Scalia and Rice and their little president. They can't be stopped, but I do think they can be slowed down.'' Eliot Weinberger. Statement for "Poetry is News" conference, St. Mark's Poetry Project, NYC, 1 February 2003

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