05 January 2008

Convergences

I have always found it intriguing that Alfredo Jaar's web page opens with this verse from William Carlos Williams: "It is difficult to get the news from poetry, yet men die miserably every day for lack of what is found there." Here is a bit of context from Williams:

". . . Look at / what passes for the new. / You will not find it there but / in despised poems. / It is difficult / to get the news from poems / yet men die every day / for lack / of what is found there."*

Oddly enough, while searching for something else today, I came across this passage from John Dewey's The Public & Its Problems (1927):

"Artists have always been the real purveyors of news, for it is not the outward happening in itself which is new, but the kindling by it of emotion, perception and appreciation."

Dewey is preoccupied at this point in his argument with the vicissitudes of disseminating reliable information to members of the public for use in their political deliberations and, especially with the crucial aesthetic dimensions of the task. He himself invokes Whitman at this point; perhaps Williams may have done just as well.
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* From: Asphodel, That Greeny Flower (1955) in The Collected Poems of William Carlos Williams, Volume II- 1939-62 (New Directions, 2001), pages 310-337, at page 318.

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