Terribly hot weather. And still so dry. But for some reason my surprise lilies managed to bloom. Of course I watered them. They has 25 heads of bloom. I have a vase full and have given many of them to friends. Teresa waxed floors. I do it only once a year.
I am spending most of my time writing letters, etc. about the Alaska natives. We are having lovely weather since the rain. The newly plant lilies are doing fine. Ed Shaw called from the Uni. Press to cay he is sending a box of my new books. Dust jacket is missing but bound. I need them at the club convention Friday.
I slept about 12 hrs. last night & feel fine today. Rainy cold day. Some of the farmers (east of town where the rains were hardest) are worried about wheat planting. West of town they are planting O.K.
I was tired today but I slept a while in the P.M. I wrote another letter about Alaska & sent it to mimeographed In the evening Mabel took me to the church where men served their annual pancake supper. Then the president presented the budget for next year.
In an early essay entitled \"To the Outlaw,\" Lane, quoting from Neruda's \"Toward an Impure Poetry,\" declares his intention towrite \" a poetry impure as the clothing we wear, soup-stained, soiled with our shameful behaviour, our wrinkles and vigils and dreams.. .\"1 Neruda's manifesto was issued in 1935 in reaction to the \"pure poetry\" of an older generation, whose leading figure was theSpanish modernist Juan Ramon Jiménez; in it, Neruda advocates a poetry that attends to the common objects of man's everydayexistence, a poetry \"smelling of lilies and urine, spattered by the trades we live by, inside law or beyond law.\"2 Lane's essay, firstpublished in 1971, is also an attack on the aestheticism of the modernists3 but where Neruda is lyrical, Lane is splenetic, especiallywhere academics are concerned: \"if bullshit was feeling these men could grow gardens on their tongues that would put mythic Babylonto shame. For they place boundaries around the poem with the laws they write as if creativity were the sum of one plus one.\" (TO, p.211). In particular, Lane rejects what he perceives as a modernist obsession with formal pattern at the expense of the poet'sinvolvement with the moral issues of his society. To counteract this complacency, which he describes elsewhere as \"objectivity\" and\"creeping intellectualism,\"4 Lane places himself as poet \"beyond the laws that give men a security in structure,\" insisting that the poetmust avoid \"the sanctuaries of security, church, state, business, the military, and the university\" (TO, p. 213). A great deal of what Lanehas to say in \"To the Outlaw\" echoes with the kind of self-righteous bluster not unfamiliar to readers of Layton's prefaces.5 Thephilippic rhetoric and anti-intellectual posturing of the essay should not blind us, however, to its considerable merit as a preamble toLane's early poetry. To a lesser degree, it also illuminates some of his more recent work, in which his youthful belligerence towards themodernistic world-view has been replaced by wary acceptance.
One of the many implications of the failure of modernism noted by Altieri is the suspicion that modern society is actually inimicalto artistic activity. The ramifications of this premise, and it is no more than a hypothesis, are enormous. First of all the notion that thesources of the creative impulse can be located outside culture presupposes that there are values which can be located elsewhere, inNature for instance. Without postulating the existence of such creative sources, whether in culture or Nature, it is impossible toconceive of a poetic act which insists that there is significance in the ontic. For the Romantic poet, value was postulated as an attributeof a sacramentally viewed Nature; for the Victorians and the Moderns, the repository of value was the ethical individual and, byextension, culture as the expression of the best that has been thought and said. Deprived of the theological foundations of RomanticNature, and suspicious of the metaphysics which underlie traditional Western thought, the postmodern poet is hard-pressed, but notwithout options. If he turns to Nature, it must be without the theological suppositions that became largely in operative after Darwin; ifto culture, it must be to those aspects of it which have not been vitiated by the historical record, or to those segments of it which,however debased, are not perceived as culpable for the failure of its ideals. It should be clear, however, that if the poet turns to culture,he is in fact turning in upon himself as the custodian of values which may have ceased to be operative in his society, and he may besubject to the anxiety that, as a product of that society, he has inherited false values.
The lines of communication between the poet and the 'outside' world, the poet's audience, are down--\"somewhere/ a tree has fallenacross the lines\"--and his words become the cacophonous, disordered flight of a flock of crows or, at very best, artifice or \"guile.\" Hecan describe the procedure of butchering the animal, but the part of the hunting experience that most affects him defies expression:
As in the previously cited \"At the Edge of the Jungle,\" Lane employs images that shock the reader into an awareness of how thingsappear when stripped of mediating values. Deprived of metaphysical significance, crumpled bodies are \"only bodies,\" simply shapeslike the corpse in Robbe-Grillet's \"The Secret Room.\" Man is more than just an object; he can ask, as Lane does, \"What do I know ofthe inexorable beauty) the unrelenting turning of the wheel I am inside me\" Without the gift of metaphor the question is asmeaningless as it is unlikely. Meaning depends upon the ability to make connections, to affirm significance with the unequivocalauthority of the felt experience. Unless significance can be affirmed, the poet suffers something akin to Sartre's nausea, as Altieri putsit, \"a sense of the divorce between self-consciousness and [the] objective world whereby a person experiences the natural world as toomuch there, as completely self-sufficient in its impersonality and hence as mocking the emptiness of man's need to project desires andmeanings on to it.\"22 In \"Stigmata,\" this condition is imaged as a fallen state:
This is as close as Lane comes to the Heideggerean view, expressed in the essay on Hölderlin and elsewhere, of poetry as ontologicalrevelation. The poet's knowledge of the event, as his opening line to \"The Witnesses\" makes clear, is \"to know as the word is known.\"Obviously, such a statement qualifies his insistence, in \"To the Outlaw,\" that poetry is \"born in the bondage of experience\" byadmitting that sometimes it is not possible to approach the world without the mediation of language. It is, however, completelyconsistent with his emphasis on The Word. 59ce067264