Excavation and Recuperation (and Contextualists and Dissidents)


Built into the structure of the Internet is a certain amount of depth and density. Google searches don't bring up everything; some sites are "embedded" more than others, and it varies country to country, continent to continent. Excavation can become a wonted task, and old texts that were not widely noted upon release can be recuperated. Excavation and recuperation are not just Internet processes; they are artistic processes as well. One goal I set to/for myself with the Blazevox book Apparition Poems (2010), was to excavate and recuperate certain aspects of the Romantic ethos. More specifically, the ethos that was set in place by William Wordsworth in his Preface (to Lyrical Ballads). That the task of the self-respecting Author was to enlarge the mind-capacity of his/her audience; that the dignity of the human mind is inherent and indestructible; that the human mind may be subtly, rather than grossly, stimulated; and that common situations can embody portentous meanings when recuperated with and by imagination; this corpus of notions hinged on other interests that were certainly not Wordsworth's (what about sexuality and sexual situations?) Almost precisely eighteen months after the release of the Blazevox book, I was able to excavate the following List-Serve directed (and quite jocular!) missive from a UK website, scribed by Desmond Swords:

Bob Sheppard's Star Student Scott Desmond's Words Flyte Fielded.


Yes, yes, one read the pose by this 'poet, critic, and musician' colleague, currently where erm, you were a year ago, nearing the end of that long hard road to attainment as a pro in doctoral po-biz, Jeff - collegiately alleging a claim that nearly everything to follow Four Quartets has been 'dross'.

One chuckled at the ambition, audacity and foolishness of deploying such a term in the forum of Letters; before turning one's focus to adducing the verse and other critical prose assays by the author Adam attempting to pull off such a theatrically audacious play as this.

"She told me I love boy/girl poems, love
scenes in them based on a deep degeneracy
inherited from too much heat around my
genitals, as manifest in tangents I could only
see if I was getting laid. She told me this as
I was getting laid in such a way that any notion

of telling was subsumed in an ass as stately as
a mansion, which I filled with the liquid
cobwebs of my imagination."

Yeats would be proud of the cant and ergo argoist, very very classy Adam Fieled's verse. Proper spillage. High Art indeed from our playboy crown-prince doing what one does.

Effecting agreement among this reader, on X and Y being the only two one is on collegiate amity and perfect accord with Adam about, as a bosom buddy chum and prophetical practitoner with the imbas to know why, when, what and how, for example, Eliot can successfully operate as a symbol for agreement between Fieled and oneself.

High and Low Art in the 'making' of verse activity, you know, as a 'poetry' - there's often very little agreement about, and in America, poetry atomised into 10,000 different individual, unique and original practices, all curated by a genius with big ideas about what kind of reality Poetry is, adam, the only critical debate in AmPo parish at present, as you know, has one essential point of agreement most practitioners of contemporary American poetry found as your datum: MFA.

After this, a forking occurs and we diverge into our own pool of plod and production sailor, not believing any of it matters. That our thinking is nought but a performance in print, anything other than that: Not real. Thought, Fielding.

Have a think about it. I'll get back to you.


What's interesting (and gratifying) to me about this piece is the context it arose from. I had just published a piece in the UK online journal The Argotist entitled "Century XX after Four Quartets." The gist of the piece was that poetry in the English language decayed horribly in the second half of the twentieth century. Other critical forays from this period, like "On the Necessity of Bad Reviews" and "The Decay of Spirituality in Poetry" got a bigger instant public reaction than this one did. A response that defended me with my Apparition Poems, and their excavated/recuperated Romantic ethos, was written and placed in a manner that straddled public and private spheres. Did Mr. Swords know he was being archived? The letter mixes jocularity (even, at points, to the edge of absurdity) with serious overtones. What could've been a post-modern performance from Mr. Swords was nudged in the direction of the Romantic by earnest edges. The dynamic between "Century XX...", the Apparition Poems, and Mr. Swords piece are interesting; on one level, radical and provocative conservatism is getting "filled in" by the ironic humor that is post-modernity's trademark. The Apparition Poems form a middle ground here, as a site- not bereft of absurdities or earnestness, ironies or direct statements. The meta-nature of the poem quoted is heightened by an intellectually challenging and substantial narrative. Mr. Swords chose to defend me with a poem that would be offensive to a "pure" Romantic ethos. It includes sexual slang, and pornographic overtones. But that I was excavating and recuperating something Romantic (and many consider Yeats a latter-day Romantic) is hinted at. The structure of the Internet has created many circles like this in poetry. Excavation and recuperation are processes that force the issue of repetition. What is, and matters most, must be repeated.