Friday, May 15, 2015

Robert Sheppard: The Meaning of Form (a near-deletion: 'The Baby and the Bathwater: A Formalist-Humanism' in Reality Studios 1981)

In writing the book The Meaning of Form (as I still call it, despite the fact it's acquired a tail, in Contemporary Innovative Poetry) I wondered whether I should make a reference to my ‘The Baby and the Bathwater: A Formalist Humanism’ essay that appeared in Reality Studios in 1981. Although I wrote a long footnote saying that it pre-figured many of the themes of the book, however wrong-headed, I deleted it, and prefer that it should be referenced here alone. Given that the whole run of this extraordinary British magazine, edited by Ken Edwards, is now online at Jacket2 here I thought to link with the piece anyway, for the curious. You’ll need to scroll to page 53 (of Vol 3, 1981: start here.) Then read all the good stuff there from Ken's excellent contributors...

Notice the appearance of the work of Yury Lotman and Herbert Marcuse, which has remained with me, as has the demolition of theories of self-expression as the essence of art that I had cadged from Karl Popper, and which re-appeared in The Meaning of Form (and in these posts here, as 'A Note on Self-Expression and Conceptual Writing').

It all comes round, I find. No, it doesn't all come round. Some things did go out with the bathwater, but it's never the baby, even if it sometimes feels like it.

(See the rest of the 'Meaning of Form' project here.)