No ideas but in bling
Nada Gordon joined a conversation some of us were having yesterday in New York about the spare late poem of Wallace Stevens, "Not Ideas about the Thing But the Thing Itself." Nada, a proud flarfist, feels that poetry should include (rather than exclude) and would seem to love the fecund, richly imaginative Stevens of poems like the florid, overwritten "Comedian as the Letter C." But "Not Ideas" is sparse, thin, scrawny, barely there. In it, nonetheless, Nada finds here a beckoning to the (faded, past, almost gone) richness of the imagination. The poem's call for thing-only objectivity is not (at it were) real. Nada has written about all this on her blog today. She has also rewritten the poem and that seems to express perfectly well her overall response to it:
Not Ideas About the Bling But the Bling Itself
At the earliest antinomian disaster,
On Mars, a prawn-y guy from outside
Seemed like he had blown his mind.
He knew that he blown it,
A dry curd, under a fluorescent light,
In the early harsh of mellow.
The sun wore purple underwear,
No longer a buttered ganache above dandruff …
It would have been outside.
It was not from the vast vacuum cleaner
Of creepy jaded poetics conferences …
The sun was wearing purple underwear inside out.
That brawny gay — It was
A chorine whose c preceded the bleach.
It was part of the giant lox,
Surrounded by its collar rings,
Still barbarous. It was like
A new knowledge of reality shows.