Monday, July 21, 2008

truth content?

Modernity is ancient history by now, modernism only slightly less agèd, yet we have come up with nothing to replace or succeed either one, just variants of the "post." We are still struggling toward a poetic language of the city as neither exotic wonderland nor demonic nightmare, a language that embraces those real conditions and relations, those profane cityscapes stripped of what Benjamin calls aura. The challenge is to find a vocabulary and a syntax for the city that isn't simply a reiteration or ventriloquization of the language of prose, but a specifically poetic language that can encompass, embody, and enact the chiming and clashing textures of the city. The city's resistance to our reified, ossified poetic dialects also provides some resistance to the rhetorical "cheating" that often goes on when people write about "nature." As Baudelaire wrote almost a hundred and fifty years ago, modern life demands a new language. And more recently, Theodor Adorno has pointed out that "Nature poetry is passé not only because it is losing its subject matter, but also because its truth content is vanishing."
Reginald Shepherd, "Toward an Urban Pastoral". Orpheus in the Bronx, 2007.

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