Friday, November 24, 2023

23: Terry Eagleton wrote a clever essay on romantic poetry.

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Terry Eagleton wrote a clever essay on romantic poetry.

I have probably quoted it before. I have probably quoted most things before. He asked how you could justify swooning over Grecian Urns and weeping about Skylarks and writing long addresses to the West Wind in an era when small children were literally being forced to climb up chimneys and used as beasts of burden in coal-mines. He said that writing poetry was itself an act of resistance.

“In the face of such forces, the privilege accorded by the Romantics to the ‘creative imagination’ can be seen as considerably more than idle escapism. On the contrary, ‘literature’ now appears as one of the few enclaves in which the creative values expunged from the face of English society by industrial capitalism can be celebrated and affirmed. ‘Imaginative creation’ can be offered as an image of non-alienated labour; the intuitive, transcendental scope of the poetic mind can provide a living criticism of those rationalist or empiricist ideologies enslaved to ‘fact’.”

I don’t in fact think that writing long essays about Doctor Who and Spider-Man is an act of resistance against the coming Muskocracy. I don’t think that when I write about popular culture I am stepping outside of political discourse and writing about something neutral and therefore real.

I am currently looking at the code-numbers you can sometimes spot in the margins of very old comics. They can give you a clue to when the thing was written. The first Spider-Man story was V-789, since you ask. The first Thor story was V-786. Which makes Stan Lee’s tale about thinking up Thor because a god was the only thing bigger and better than a teenager who could climb up walls look decidedly iffy.

But I don’t think that “The first Thor story was in all probability written slightly before the first Spider-Man story” is a politically neutral statement. I think my beliefs about when Thor was published are bound up with the colour of my skin, my position in the Black/white dichotomy, the configuration of my genitals, my preferred pronouns and my chosen name for God. I think that language and narrative are male/white/’‘Christian’ constructs. 

Unless and until they are not.

But I feel I can write commentary on texts and feel fairly sure that I know what I am writing about. At least texts stay where they are and don’t move about. 

Unless they do.

I wrote a coda to my essay on the Micronauts called “Why Are You Wasting Your Time On This Shit?” I don’t know how I could have explained myself more clearly. When I write about old comics I am not really writing about old comics because I don’t think that old comics are particularly important. No more and no less important than anything else. When I write about old comics I am really writing about me. Because I think that I am very important indeed. As are you. Unless you are just a zombie controlled by a virus, in which case you might as well jump into the incinerator before they push you.

I understand that that essay hurt the feelings of people who rather like the Librarians Are Fucking Awesome posts, and I am sorry about this. But quite gratified a few of them read it.

I was fond of my golly. I have never seen Michelangelo’s David. I go by he/him. I think it is better to keep your pants on in public places. I think Show of Hands are an excellent folk band. Jack Kirby definitely created the Silver Surfer.

There is a monstrous odour…senses transfigures…boarding at that tower window crack and giving way…Ia…ngai…ygg… I see it….coming here…hell-wind…titan blur…black wings…Yog-Sothoth save me…the three lobed burning eye.

This post forms part of an extended essay. 
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