Dark yet redemptive poetry or fiction?
February 19, 2010 2:43 AM Subscribe
It takes a certain mood to get into rallies of joy and nature and deep emotions; when one feels alienated, out-of-touch from everything the poets love, what then to read?
posted by mbrock to writing & language (17 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
The good old David Foster Wallace ouvre is running out; I’ve devoured Pär Lagerkvist’s poems (anxiety, atheism, desperate clinging need for some kind of transcendental apocalyptic salvation, etc — great poetry, but I'm not so God-fearing); Prufrock rang a lot of bells but the archaic diction feels too remote; I thought Camus’s essay on Sisyphus started affectingly but got stupid with the quantitative ethics; I love The Mountain Goats’ lyrics (like the anti-music song with “I don’t like Morrissey and I don’t like you,” raging shit like “I am drowning, there is no sign of land, you’re all coming down with me, hand in unlovable hand, and I hope you die, I hope we both die,” lines like “you were a presence full of light upon this earth and I was a witness to your life and to its worth,” etc); oh yeah and Howl was pretty good. And Lolita, but I'd want H.H. to really break down and cry; there's like one redemptive sentence in the whole book.
I want this: “Look man, we'd probably most of us agree that these are dark times, and stupid ones, but do we need fiction that does nothing but dramatize how dark and stupid everything is? In dark times, the definition of good art would seem to be art that locates and applies CPR to those elements of what's human and magical that still live and glow despite the times' darkness. Really good fiction could have as dark a worldview as it wished, but it'd find a way both to depict this world and to illuminate the possibilities for being alive and human in it.” [from DFW interview]
Here’s more about my idiosyncracies. I meditate and try to be happy, and in the summer I even like Whitman, but I'd like some poetic treats for the dark miserable winter evenings when you just want the universe to disappear in a puff of irony. Actually what’s worked for me so far is honest but rational, kind, philosophical, sober stuff like Richard Rorty, Erich Fromm, books about virtue ethics (wtf?), William James, I even sneak some guilty pleasure from C.S. Lewis. But I’m trying to get into poetry and fiction. Don't take anything I said I disliked too seriously.