Thursday, May 03, 2007

Literate Literary Criticism

Oedipus Doesn't Like It Much Either,
What The Critics Said About The Anti-Oedipus
(For Karen)

Read The Anti-Oedipus
But found the results to be
"Quite unmemorous"

Oedipal Ants
Read The Anti-Oedipus
But page 24, they say,
"Tasted odious"

But the Anti-Anti-
Judge the book to be
"Thorougly readable." *

The Pals Of Oedi**
And Supporters Of Rex***
All declare they'd like to make
The Anti-Oedipus ex.

Oedipus' Aunt
Read The Anti-Oedipus
But the things she says are
Rude and venomous.

As for Oedipus -
Well, he
Spoke to his subconscious
And they both agree
That The Anti-Oedipus
Is anti-you,
and anti-me,
and anti-us,
And is, generally, crap
To the nth degree.

*(The things Oedipus' Aunt
Says of these Anti-Anti-Oedipals
Are quite frankly, shocking-
ly unrepeatable.)

** P.O.O.

*** S.O.R.


TimT said...

Hmmm, this poem seems to have worn out its welcome in less than half a day. And I had so much fun writing it...

Karen said...

I thought you'd abandoned the project! I assure you that I am absolutely delighted with the result and more than a little touched to be its dedicatee. I was not here to applaud earlier because I was marauding the streets in search of ice cream (I mention this because I am very proud of the fact that I moved away from the computer).

But thank you muchly. You are a scholar and a gentleman. I don't think I'll ever be able to make my doggerel debut, with you and Alexis setting such an awe-inspiring example.

TimT said...

It's about time they had an ice cream delivery service - ice cream to your house in 5 minutes, or your money back! That would be great. Unlike this poem.

I first wrote this thinking the title of the book was 'The Anti-Oedipals', and had quite a lot of fun thinking up rhymes like 'inedible', 'unrepeatable', etc. I had to furiously change all the rhymes when I got home and discovered I was working on a wrong assumption!

I do like the pun 'Anti-Oedipal' and 'Oedipal Ants', though.

Karen said...

It's perfect anyway and I would have liked the earlier version just as much, I'm sure. Nobody likes their own stuff- I have to remind myself of this constantly when I have a sudden panic- but then you one day find yourself liking at least some of your stuff and you wonder what sort of sign that might be! The important thing is that I am happy (yes, yes, it is- in all things!).

I've had too much ice cream, which inclines me towards rambling. I've wanted ice cream since about 10 yesterday and I was so happy when I finally acquired it that I was singing on the way home (I can't drive, so I'm one of those strange pedestrain creatures). There's some operation called "Home Ice Cream" which comes around in NSW at least- but I think they only do that ice confection shite. I can't tell you how much it pains me that Cape Byron is no longer stocked in the supermarket.

Karen said...

Pedestrian! Too much chocolate*, eyesight going!

*I opted for "chocolate obsession", the only real choice.

Karen said...

Oh, and yes, "Anti-Oedipal" and the Oedipal ants- truly champagne stuff!

Another bowl of ice cream or bed? What would Jesus do? I think he'd go for the former, don't you?

TimT said...

Yes. Yes he would.

And that's not true at all, I do like the previous three poems that I've written, though admittedly perceptions about certain pieces does change over time.

It's good to know I'm not the only one to indulge in such curious habits as involuntarily singing while walking and what not. I should write a post sometime about these odd spasms of melodrama we get while doing everyday acts - I'm sure it happens to everyone.

Karen said...

And that's not true at all

Yes, I have to remind myself of that- I am not the barometer of normality. The only things I seem to like are the things I can't remember writing! Do you ever get that? That's not quite the right way to describe it, but it's this strange little phenomenon where you're almost divorced from yourself. And I get it more and more as I get older, which I think is a sign that I'm improving!

I would certainly like to see the post about the melodrama of everyday acts. Aren't those ABC Classic FM ads about that? The ones with the ironing and so on? Kitchen-sink drama!

TimT said...

Yes, ego and the experience of having physically forged a piece of writing from the curious nether regions of one's own brain cast a rather odd perspective on a piece - at first I feel triumphant, and it's only later that the critical feelings set in. Maybe after a number of years it's possible to feel objective about a piece, but I doubt it.

T S Eliot said (something like) he could never read anything he'd written years before because it made him embarassed. Yep, I get that.

And then many times, it's true, disappointment sets in immediately: a sense of having failed to live up to one's ideas, with one's own prose, or the ideas themselves themselves having failed when written down.

Karen said...

How melancholy we're getting! I'm in a terrible mood about something- I hope I haven't somehow managed to spread it.

I think it depends on the style of writing. What I'm talking about is more with my academic writing. I set out to do certain things and then I read it later and there are these other things that I wasn't thinking of at all- it's a subconscious thing I don't really understand. I feel it separates me from my ego sometimes- or it makes you step outside- "Oh, am I like that?". Is this too esoteric? The starkest experience I've had of this was with my thesis, because I wrote the last 40 000 words in a month and a half and I was in such a mess the whole time. So the last part of it is not like something I've written at all. Perhaps it's to do with the extent to which you mull over or revise something. If you don't revise it within an inch of its life there's more of a risk of exposing something inadvertently.

I think poetry is probably even more like this. But the embarrassment certainly comes back when the possibility of anyone else looking at it emerges- it reassociates itself then!

Anyway, just thinking aloud!

TimT said...

It's a pity no-one seems to write in dialogue form any more, that allows a natural vent for different and dissenting ideas. The relegation of dialogues to interviews, plays and novels is most unfortunate.

And people discount the importance of inspiration, as well. The atheist pulp hack beating out 10,000 words a day at his typewriter is a questionable substitute for the God-and-Devil fearing classical poet looking to a Muse for inspiration.

I've never really felt what I write is dictated to me, but certainly some things I write will come to me whole, and others I'll feel like I'm in constant dialogue/argument with somebody.

Karen said...

Dialogue form is very hard to do. It seems to be the case that when you do get that now it's a "conversation" between two different writers or philosophers. The French seem to do that a lot.

I think the hack can sometimes stumble upon something extraordinary too, in spite of herself! Words sometimes just want to do things, regardless of the restraint you put on them. I do agree about inspiration, but there's profane inspiration too. It doesn't have to be ritualistic.

I'm not talking about the sense of things being "dictated". It's more organic than that- something you're working out as you write it (I'm not doing a very good job at explaining this, am I?). And it is a bit like a dialogue. I always feel like I'm in dialogue with someone, but I have no comprehension of that person- only that I hope someone introduces us soon!

TimT said...

Ritual makes it sound rather ugh. Writers have always had a complicated, and usually sensual relationship with the muse - A D Hope certainly did; maybe they were just taking up where Pygmalion left off.

I don't want to sound too much like the believer that I'm not, but one has to wonder sometimes whether Sigmund Freud's discovery of the subconscious was altogether a better explanation for 'inspiration' than earlier generation's invocations of the supernatural.

Don't you sometimes get whole sentences, fully formed, popping into your head that you want to write down? Or what about when you're reading poetry - do you ever get the sense that the poet is talking, quite clearly and distinctly, in the room with you? I've had this experience several times, once with Yeats. Sometimes things even happen with the silliest pieces of poetry; I was reading an Edwardian piece of fluff about -

Standing on a hill
Three centaurs were

And I heard the first four or so opening bars of a piece of music!

There are lots of different examples of this type of thing, and I guess what I'm driving at is that we should try to be honest about where these ideas come from. 'Subconscious' seems a lazy explanation. There's often something compelling about them - the sense of the presence of a poet or writer is the most obvious example. I dunno, we're coming at it from different directions here, but anyway...

(Hello! Friday I popped out to get that laborious thing called work out of the way, now I have the weekend and I'm going to start it off by blogging!)

Karen said...

Apologies for the use of the word ritualistic. I'm working on Walter Benjamin right now, so I used it reflexively.

I don't think we're at such cross-purposes. I agree with you and I agree with me- can I have it both ways? I do know the experience you're talking about (and, in any case, I'm no atheist). I get that a lot with EBB, Emily Dickinson, Woolf, the aforementioned Benjamin (I'm a nerd!) and many more. One of the most striking examples I've had was reading Roland Barthes' Camera Lucida on a train after my father died and almost not being able to stand up because I felt like someone had scraped along the edge of my spine. It's something ineffable, certainly, but I think it comes from several places at once- it's you and it's not you. And music is probably where you feel it the most easily, simply by virtue of the nature of the medium. Maybe it's just that the realisation of that sort of transcendent human potential is so irresistable that you can't not go along for the ride in a way that seems almost beyond thought...

What you said about the piece of Edwardian verse reminds me of how I feel about Auden sometimes!

I agree about the writer in the room- it's an intimate thing- but I also wonder if an element of it isn't a longing for the sort of intellectual companionship which is so rare outside reading a poem!

I have an inclination to ramble on this point, which must be avoided.

Email: timhtrain - at -

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