some deconstructions of the natural

To: (Sara Rabold)
Date: Wed, 10 Nov 1999 20:57:14 -0500 (EST)
Precedence: bulk

| question 2...
|       I think beat language, or rather, the thinking process behind the
| language is natural. The beat poets don't restrain themselves to a
| strict form, instead they let the words and the ideas flow
| naturally--stream of consciousness. What is more natural than a person's
| thought processes? Ginsberg's "Howl" seems to represent every thought in
| his mind at the moment he wrote the poem. He writes down his thoughts as
| they come to him, not worrying about rhyme, rhythm, or poetic structure.
| He uses everyday language that the common man would use in a
| conversation.

Some deconstructions of the natural:

1. Isn't the natural style a style like any other style. There's the
surrealist style which we immediately recognize as a style. There's the
sonneteer's or ballad-maker's style which we immediatley recognize as a
style. Then the Beats come along and use the natural style, but we don't
we see it as a style, a stylistic construction, a conscious choice of a
medium, just as we see the others as such? There's no such thing as a
styleless style.

2. There's a difference between improvising improvisation (on one hand)
and planning an improvisation on another. Kerouac wrote manifestos guiding
him and other beats as they prepared to improvised; then, following these
rules for improvisation, they improvised. Doesn't that suggest to you that
improvisation is a consciously constructed style like any other?

3. Thought processes are not already in words. Sure, beats tried to
capture thought processes in words, but once they applied words they
applied something less improvisational than pure improvisation. There's no
pure stream that flows from the mind directly into words. The application
of words to thoughts requires thought.

4. It's true that you can *not* worry about rhyme and poetic structure,
but it's also true that you can worry about not worrying about it.
Ginsberg does the latter: his poems, which are carefully free-Whitmanian,
are examples of worrying a lot about not worrying about poetic form.
Ginsberg's revisions to the text of "Howl" at least prove that he went
back over his writing and worried about making sure that the poems seemed
not to worry about form.

5. In a brilliant essay by Susan Sontag called "On Style," she wrote:
"[T]he visibility of styles is itself a product of historical
consciousness.... The very notion of "style" needs to be approached
historically. Awareness of style as a problematic and isolable element in
a work of art has emerged in the audience for art only at certain
historical moments--as a front behind which other issues, ultimately
ethical and political, are being debated."


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