Special to AC Douglas (and George Hunka)–there is no transcendent world, and no work of art can help you reach it. However–(fake-concerned voice-over, beautiful daffodils swaying in the wind) if you insist on trying, may I suggest you ask your doctor if new Letho is right for you!
Seriously guys, I think every artist worth his/her salt works in order to “open up intercourse with the world” (that’s Mr. Hawthorne’s phrase, not mine). It’s not about accessing the divine (Beckett said “to be an artist is to fail”), nor is it about “self-expression” or anything so godawfully Oprahish (Opraish? Opratic?) as that–it’s about creating something irreducibly “real” (in the same way that the people in our lives who mean the most to us are “real”–meaning that we are drawn to them for what they are and not for what they can do for us).
Personism has nothing to do with philosophy, it’’s all art. It does not have to do with personality or intimacy, far from it! But to give you a vague idea, one of its minimal aspects is to address itself to one person (other than the poet himself), thus evoking overtones of love without destroying love’s life—giving vulgarity, and sustaining the poet’’s feelings towards the poem while preventing love from distracting him into feeling about the person. That’’s part of Personism.
It was founded by me after lunch with LeRoi Jones on August 27, 1959, a day in which I was in love with someone (not Roi, by the way, a blond). I went back to work and wrote a poem for this person. While I was writing it I was realizing that if I wanted to I could use the telephone instead of writing the poem, and so Personism was born. It’s a very exciting movement which will undoubtedly have lots of adherents. It puts the poem squarely between the poet and the person, Lucky Pierre style, and the poem is correspondingly gratified. The poem is at last between two persons instead of two pages. In all modesty, I confess that it may be the death of literature as we know it. While I have certain regrets, I am still glad I got there before Alain Robbe-Grillet did. Poetry being quicker and surer than prose, it is only just that poetry finish literature off.
I do agree with Mr. Hunka (whose blog–Superfluities–is excellent, by the way) that works of art have no utilitarian purpose–but while he treats them as quasi-mystical portals into the realm of the Ideas, I think of them as undeniable ends-in-themselves, as real as the first person you ever loved (or your love-letters to them).
In other news–I’m just about finished Auster’s The Book of Illusions (I would have read it straight through in one sitting if it weren’t for this insane flu-related cough that just won’t quit!), and I’m happy to say, it’s almost as brilliant as Oracle Night! I feel pretty safe in contending that Auster’s project (like mine) is intimately tied to Hawthorne’s Blithedale Romance (the greatest novel ever written), and I’ll go into this in more detail later in the week.
Good night friends