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What makes translation interesting and valuable and productive (of knowledge, of the the new thing, of pleasure) is its necessary failure. It succeeds insofar as it is deviant and deviance, in any case, is what the resistance of the “original” (which is always based on something) imposes upon it. There are a million different ways to celebrate this and none of them require being mean. This is a belated thanks to Thom, whose post on translation and the accompanying thread I just arrived at via Craig’s last post, but which, it turns out, I’ve been responding to, sympathetically, all along. I have to confess, now, that part of what caused my hiatus was having been made to feel a bit vulnerable by a couple of heckling posts, to which I surreptitiously referred in one of this last flurry of posts I just made. As much as I desire the commons, I’m often way too afraid to do the hard work of helping to enact it, which is to say refresh it (the way that poems do life, according to Stevens). I have been always interested in, and have felt very much like an honored and very well-treated guest in what I’ll call the experimental poetry community. My being asked to participate here as blogger is only one such instance. And these are the poets with whom I hold the deepest affinities even though I feel uneasy about claiming that affinity primarily because I don’t think I’ve done nearly enough communal work to deserve to make the claim and also because, and in light of the fact that I totally insist on the brutal eradication of whatever split some folks delude themselves into seeing between “experimental” and “black,” if I would call myself anything it would be a black poet. Nevertheless, in my private space, I’m deeply committed to the experiment and feel like this blog is a chance to make that known in the very form my posts take. It’s just that the stuff I’m interested and that I’m writing about (my son’s autism and the way he’s totally irreducible to it, the thing/s they used to call “the black experience in America,” M. NourBese Philip’s poetry, Poetry!) (however distastefully unintelligible or irrelevent the way I’m writing about it might be to some) is so important to me, so deeply bound up with my life, that I don’t want it or myself exposed to nasty, resentful forms of counter-bloggishness. Unlike a few of the folks who posted comments in response to Thom’s post on translation, whose dislike of the ideas regarding translation to which Thom gave a forum was the animating force of the thread, the work of Brown and Larsen does nothing but excite me and give me pleasure in ways that are neither antithetical or antagonistic to the excitement I get from reading either Moncrieff’s or Davis’s Swann’s Way/The Way by Swann’s. Basically, I’m totally down with Thom (I mean I’m on his side, since it came to that), so much so that even though I like to think of myself as ecumenical enough to love Pound and to know why I should love him in spite of him, now I will have to come to grips with the fact that I haven’t seriously read him in a long-ass time myself. I’m down with talking about the stuff that I love and I truly don’t understand why people talk so insistently about stuff they hate. I don’t understand when I do it. When I do it I get mad. And then I get mean-mad (as Ma Joad used to say). And then I get stupid, which is to say, incapable of thinking and of dealing with the thoughts of others. And I’m not trying to say that anybody in the thread is, or even said something that is, stupid. In fact, there are a lot of interesting things in the thread; lots of interesting ideas on both sides. The problem is that there is also a lot of mean stuff, instigated by what I’ll call the anti-Thom or, maybe the anti-“avant” contingent, and to which Thom responded in kind, justifiably but still sadly, against the grain of who I think he is, which is a much better guy than me. It’s fucked-up, and unnecessary, to viciously dismiss forms of poetic or translational practice when you know that by such viciousness you are calling into question the very claim to the status of artist that is made by those who offer up such work out of their love or admiration for, or their interest in, it. Now, this is not an expression of my “anxiety-aversion to intense debate”; it is a function of my aversion, whether anxiety-driven or not, to meanness, which intense debate does not require and which, in fact, dilutes the genuine intellectual intensity of any debate. Moreover, it seems to me that folks who indulge themselves in such meanness know exactly what they are doing. With all that said, I’m also down with Craig (though I’m not, as you can see, boycotting) in that I think folks need to be allowed unfettered access to the apparatus that allows them to post their comments. Nasty counter-bloggishness is, to me, distasteful and noxious, but it is always also potentially productive. The fact that other modes of response can be more productive, that it’s possible to articulate one’s own views of translation without calling into question the artistic integrity of those with whom you disagree, is beside the point. No gratuitous shittiness but, above all, no exclusion.