Thursday, 6 August 2020

2 manifestos

Two books I recently bought in a charity shop feature manifestos.

"The vision of culture and other poems" by Mark Howard Davis (Minerva Press, 1998) begins with a 10-page preface. Here are some extracts -

  • In an age where individualism is haloed with spotlights, where relativism runs amok, there are many clever and sophisticated people but few with real, intense, aesthetic depth of wisdom
  • Everything is based on good contacts in the right places at the right time, rather than on serious evaluative criticism
  • when I read any of the current poetry on offer (whether written by supposed first league or lesser poets) I am aware of a lack of structure, lack of form, content and style
  • Once you slide into cultural relativism and it is deemed fine for everyone to pursue 'their own thing', all the critical apparatus and accumulated wisdom of tested craft and innovation become as nothing
  • Relativism has enslaved our culture and nowhere more so do we experience this bitter truth than in the meagre, half-cooked microwave poetry of postmodernism
  • today's postmodern conformism is due to the absense of any sort of intelligible poetics
  • The world of the true poet is, in the last result, a unique world of personal joy and suffering. The sheer intensity of such inwardness seals this world off from any mere facile cleverness
  • Poetry must regain its basis of meaningful patterning

"All hail the new puritans" by Nicholas Blincoe and Matt Thome (eds) (Fourth Estate, 2000) begins with a single page manifesto, explained in a 10-page introduction. Here are some extracts -

  • In the name of clarity, we recognise the importance of temporal linearity and eschew flashbacks, dual temporal narratives and foreshadowing ... Flashbacks are a cheap trick ... I have no problem with dual narratives generally, especially in longer fiction. But for this project we wanted to force the included writers into putting everything into a single narrative strand.
  • All our texts are dated and set in the present day. All products, places, artists and objects named are real ... Current historical fiction seems to be written with the sole purpose of denying life
  • We are moralists, so all texts feature a recognisable ethical reality

A write-up of the initiative and aftermath is on workshyfop

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