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Wednesday, September 10, 2003

The debate that has been raging on Skanky Possum comes down, on at least one level, to the debate between so-called complexity and her rumoured to be nicer sister clarity that has been at work in the arts for many decades. I'm amazed at poets (or critics) who are so umwilling to invest time at finding meaning beyond their own comfortable definitions of coherence and clarity (I was just thinking of Hornsby's ridiculous Radiohead review in the New Yorker a couple years back), but I'm willing to bet that they are able to accept more difficult attempts at presenting meaning (or reality) when they come from already accepted sources, such as established artists like Pollock, Rothko, etc. Or at least they pretend to.

Por ejemplo:

Well, Shakespeare, he's in the alley
With his pointed shoes and his bells,
Speaking to some French girl,
Who says she knows me well.
And I would send a message
To find out if she's talked,
But the post office has been stolen
And the mailbox is locked.
Oh, Mama, can this really be the end,
To be stuck inside of Mobile
With the Memphis blues again.

Mona tried to tell me
To stay away from the train line.
She said that all the railroad men
Just drink up your blood like wine.
An' I said, "Oh, I didn't know that,
But then again, there's only one I've met
An' he just smoked my eyelids
An' punched my cigarette."
Oh, Mama, can this really be the end,
To be stuck inside of Mobile
With the Memphis blues again.

Dylan, obviously. A songwriter who has consistently made his bones with, among his many talents, the obscuring of coherent meaning. Wanna take a stab at what it means? Go ahead, but a thousand others will disagree and he'll certainly never tell. But thye lyrics are magnificent, suggestive of so much that goes beyond just narrative or coherence. And when you add the music you just get pure bliss.

This is my long-winded way of saying that when someone preaches coherence in art, if that's what the Houlihan's of the world are preaching, they haven't been listening closely to their environment.


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