More Ricochet Effect

The Ricochet Effect, which I spoke of in reference to John Keats and his Odal Cycle, seems to have two distinct significations. The one, I have enumerated: the quality of intense musicality, and melopoeaic mastery, in Keats’ verse, and the manner in which every word in the Odes ricochets against every other word, heightening their sense of exquisite formality. The second signification is this: the ricochet of the exquisite formality of the Odes against the narrative/thematic elements which animate the poems, which cause tensions and stresses to flare up and both abrade and illuminate the texts’ surfaces. In a way, the second signification of the Ricochet Effect, exquisite formality against narrative/thematic stresses/strains, sets Grecian Urn up as slightly more interesting than Nightingale. People take Negative Capability in Keats for granted, and forget how odd the thing is: Keats exerting his imagination to jump inside (so to speak) an inanimate object, as if it was both sentient and acted like a boundary between Keats as poet and another sentient world, so that the music sustains along an odd ricochet with what the significations of the language are.

A tangent point to dovetail with this, with even broader significations: Keats negatively capable stance before the world, in the Odes and elsewhere, as though the world he perceives has a quality of resonating and shuddering perpetually within itself, in a fashion which suggests both sentience and sensitivity; has more grounding in scientific fact then the flat-line, no-metaphysics model inhering in Modern and post-modern literature. As any particle physicist would be happy to tell you, the resonant, shuddering world is the real one. Modern and post-modern nihilistic landscapes, which erase imagination, emotion, and the capacity to create seriously musical language, are all accursed by the phoniness of pretending a world that does not exist or subsist in reality; a dead, flat one. The Ricochet Effect, in both of its major significations, has in-built Romanticism’s acknowledgement of a multiple/plural world, and a sensitive, responsive world; and the second signification, for Keats, creates all sorts of chiaroscuro moments, as major key melopoeaic harmonies devolve into minor key realizations of frailty, mortality, and overextended imagination, the price to be paid for living on Romanticism’s edge; attempting to balance as many different imperatives as possible, in poetry and in life. Where formality in poetry is concerned, Neo-Romanticism is capable of evincing a similar edge.

Surface/depth tensions and form/theme tensions in Neo-Romanticism are aligned to several levels in-built to the Neo-Ro oeuvre which Romanticism and Neo-Classicism in painting avoid: the spectacle of a head-on collision between the artist and the world of detailed, nuanced, plain-faced antagonistic circumstances. Keats and Wordsworth, Ingres and David linger in generalities from a stance which may or may not be pained, but is always touched by an imperative to avoid what in the work of art might offend the implied critiques of a conservative, perhaps censorious audience. Meeting Halfway and The Lost Twins both place the idea of queerness boldly, provocatively on the surface, confident of a sophisticated world capable of responding appropriately; and in Apparition Poems, graphic sex and graphic philosophy make clear that a textual challenge is being generated to occupy a position, as responsive reader, that the text is and should be all depth, and that the textual surface is comparatively unimportant. The formality of the Neo-Romantic lynch-pin poem or painting is made to serve the higher aim of focused narratives, addressing focused themes.