On the terrain of the poetic, in thinking the adaptability of the poetic to present circumstances, I refer here, for my own part, to the dialog I engaged in with my Boston-based comrade Boyd Nielson some years ago:
And perhaps this is the “principle of autonomy” Prynne refers to when, in the closing pages of his 2011 commentary on George Herbert, he claims: “Poetic form as developed in a specific mode of practice contains somewhere within its specification a certain motive and principle of autonomy, in resistance to instrumentalism; not incompatible with other commitments intrinsic and extrinsic, but if the presiding motive of a poem is to culminate in fully becoming its poetic self, to fulfill the nature proper to its kind, it may become cramped or damaged by shortfall or invasion from alien preoccupations, alien because originating from loyalties not so easily reconciled with the objectives of poetic form.” I find myself a little uncomfortable with Prynne’s usage of autonomy in this passage, am perhaps unable to grasp his precise meaning, but his view of poetic form—of a particular species of poetic form—as something other than a blunt instrument to be recklessly swung like a bat or thrown like a brick in the service of an insurrectionary impulse feels spot on. As a poet with an enduring and fully committed affinity for Marxism, I believe Prynne offers a refreshingly affirmative corrective to activist poets whose abysmally uninspired imaginings of poetry compel them only to paradoxically instrumentalize and deride the productive capacity of poetry, thereby diminishing the affective and intellectual energies latent within the poetic. In any case and at the very least, the desire for revolution—for something other than capitalism—should never be an excuse for bad writing or lazy thinking. Yet whenever the tired question of poetry’s relation to the political emerges the results are too often the same. The poet-qua-activist turns against himself, herself, against poetry, for shame of a grotesquely powerless intellectual privilege which, in the final if not every instance, shamelessly yields to the call of capital in order to preserve itself while at the same time preserving the indispensable illusion of its political integrity through a banal cacophony of impotent protestations predictably slathered in all the prescriptive force and masculinist ferocity of a Calvinist sermon. Is it wrong to expect more—demand more—want more—from ourselves and our comrades alike?
Fuck the internet. Fuck Facebook. Fuck Google. Fuck Mark Zuckerberg and Eric Schmidt for selling their end-users out to state and corporate interests. Fuck the creepy neocolonial designs Facebook has on Sub Saharan Africa. Fuck the destabilizing and social engineering capacities of the feeds. Fuck device manufacturers for building surveillance capabilities into most every digital object we bring into our homes and carry on our persons. Fuck the USPS for serving as an instrument of government surveillance. Fuck the New York Times for so clamorously bending whichever way political winds blow. Fuck any university that imagines offering space to fascism and hate as encouraging a diversity of opinion.
Fuck the institutions that serve us for having betrayed us at every turn.
Fuck the right. They will come for us all given the chance. We must know this. North Korea was never a threat. We need to never regard them as such. And to our comrades in Iran, India, Mexico and elsewhere, Marxist and otherwise, we stand in solidarity with you; and to those under siege in Aleppo and Mosul, in Yemen and other locations, you are in our thoughts and you are in our prayers.