|Edwin Denby & Neil Welliver [pic by Rudy Burckhardt]|
by Edwin Denby
The shoulder of a man is shaped like a baby pig.
It terrifies and it bores the observer, the shoulder.
The Greeks, who had slaves, were able to hitch back and rig
The shoulder, so the eye is flattered and feels bolder.
But that’s not the case in New York, where a roomer
Stands around day and night stupefied with his clothes on
The shoulder, hung from his neck (half orchid, half tumor)
Hangs publicly with a metabolism of its own.
After it has been observed a million times or more
A man hunches it against a pole, a jamb, a bench,
Parasite he takes no responsibility for.
He becomes used to it, like to the exhaust stench.
It takes the corrupt, ectoplasmic shape of a prayer
Or money, that connects with a government somewhere.
[re David Foster Wallace] never not epistemologically lost, psychologically needy, humanly flawed
[re J. D. Salinger] how his voice . . . talks back to itself, how it listens to itself talking, comments upon what it hears, and keeps talking. This self-awareness, this self-reflexivity, is the pleasure and burden of being conscious, and the gift of his work — what makes me less lonely and makes life more livable — lies in its revelation that this isn’t a deformation in how I think; this is how human beings think. I want work that, possessing as thin a membrane as possible between life and art, foregrounds the question of how the writer solves being alive. . . .
Isn’t this what all writing is, more or less — taking the raw data of the world and editing it, framing it, thematizing it, running your voice and vision over it?. . .
I believe in art as pathology lab, landfill, recycling station, death sentence, aborted suicide note, lunge at redemption.
Your art is most alive and dangerous when you use it against yourself. That’s why I pick at my scabs.
Don’t get over anything. . . . This is the extent of my philosophy. Failure is the only subject.