Avant-garde poetry in the English language has had a mediocre reaction to Deconstruction. The tendency is to turn Deconstructive tenets into sound-bites— like, for example, that (using the wonted, tendentious first person plural) we know that language, being arbitrary, cannot open a transparent window onto any given image or topos we may choose. What tends to follow from this is a Deconstructive card trick— that, given the inadequacy of arbitrary language to address themes, we should remove, in broad terms, the thematic from our poetry. Avant-garde poetry should then be constituted by language about itself. It is even suggested that narrative is an antiquated trick in poetry, linked, in its potential obsolescence, to the nineteenth century and back. What then passes for poetry, in many avant-garde circles, is so textually impoverished as to be easily dismissed as gibberish, as the proverbial baby is thrown out with the bath-water and the nose is cut off to spite the face. The extraordinary naivete at work here is the quintessence of the plebeian— reducing philosophy and poetry at once to a collection of sound-bites, dismissing poetic diction and melopoeia as meaningless, even bringing into question whether poetry (at this stage of impoverishment) is being written and published to serve subterranean purposes besides and beyond the pursuit of the aesthetic. What I want to say about the naïve, plebeian reaction to Deconstruction in avant-garde poetry is practical— if there weren’t some adequacy inhering in texts and textuality, we wouldn’t write them. The baby-mush that is Objectivism, Language Poetry, and the like, which evacuates the aesthetic from the aesthetic with a pretense of intellectuality which is actually just a form of thoughtlessness, rattle shaking, and ill-concealed hatred of seriousness (intellectual and otherwise) and serious poetry, has no real place in Posit or Neo-Romanticism except as a set up for us, a MacGuffin to start things off.
Here’s how Roland Barthes has a way of being, or seeming, suspect: his brief survey of The Pleasure Of The Text makes no mention of harmonious or metrical language in serious poetry. How could textuality engender any more pleasure then it does from poetic diction, musical language, melopoeia, what have you? The texts Barthes tends to lean on are formally barbarous compared, say, to Keats’ Odes; but the larger point I want to make, beyond Barthes being largely a plebeian version of a literary critic and aesthete, has to do with both formality in poetry and how it relates to the intimate I-Thou relationship between writer and reader (with the text itself occupying a middle ground) illuminated by Posit. What I want to express is a practical tangent to what Barthes expresses in his book; Barthes points to what in avant-garde novels is seductive, “cruises” the reader; and misses the obvious point that formality, harmonious language in serious poetry was developed partly for people to seduce each other (usually men seducing women), and that formality in serious poetry is the most obviously seductive facet of any given language, French or English. What the seduction is meant to lead to is an intimate relationship that finds its consummation in the penetration of artful language into the human brain. More on this later.