Tuesday 9 March 2010

Autistic art?

Back in November on this blog, I wrote:
"I dislike fundamentalisms of any kind, and that includes both critical and aesthetic ones. In poetics, at both the conservative and radical ends of the spectrum, you have those modes that fetishize their own kind of formalism to the detriment of (or even to the exclusion of) concerns about content. At either extreme these formalist fundamentalisms (say a revived take on the radical poetics of Oulipo or an orthodox approach to classicist meter and rhyme) you will find a kind of literary autism; the poems are toying with their physical minutiae, but they are disinterested in actually communicating much of anything."
In the current issue of the Christian commentary magazine Image, Australian poet Les Murray, who himself has Asperger's and a son with autism, says something very similar:
"A lot of modern art is very autistic. There is this arbitrary law that you're not supposed to be sentimental or have any feelings. What the bloody hell is that but autism, pretending to be some kind of automaton? I came across a wonderful phrase recently. Some fellow writing against the Conservative Party of Canada, parodying their attitudes, described the conservative image of Harvard as 'the great ice-palace of the modern elite'—where it's all intellect and no feelings allowed."
You can read the entire conversion between Les Murray and J. Mark Smith, who teaches English at Grant MacEwan University in Edmonton, on the Poetry Daily website.

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