Note from the Midwest
"Riles and I are kicking around some Paterson ideas.
He is reading Book 1 now. He's not really familiar with
modernist poetry, but he certainly is versed in modernist
composers! We talked about what Williams might be doing in a
musical sense. His syllables fall on off-beats sometimes sometimes
not. They are sometimes "haunted" by pentameter. But so is a
lot of the best prose. I think. But they are PHRASE based, & are susceptible to
changes in texture, changes in tempo. The music's got
to serve the words in a project like this. Fit tightly.
PRECISELY BECAUSE what all those guys like Kreymborg and
Jolas and Wallace Stevens too, saw in Williams WAS
his subtelty of measure, the WAY the words really WERE
the music, they did not alude to music, nor make a
kind of formalistic PARABLE about the ideas about
music or 18th century ideas bout music and theology,
No he did not do this did he? He was (I bet) a pretty
insufferable inscruttable old prick. A safe man, a cautious
man, with a sentimentality more urbane than Whitman's.
A statesman in disguise. A Yankee Norman Rockwell doctor.
But he saw the WILDNESS underneath the bland pastoral.
Have you heard Reich's version of The Desert Music?
Not bad. But: I HATE HOW IN "Poetry/Song"explorations
the human voice is so often detached, floating above
and separate from the unpopulated dreamy or romantic
soundscape below rendering it into "atmosphere"
DEAR GOD I HATE ATMOSPHERES! I want to hear a fat magic
marker scribbling on paper, you know? kind of Alban Berg
meets Cecil Taylor, BUT with a logic that follows
the WORDS. When he gets measured, when he gets prosaic
the music does. The music dissapears inside the words.
Not vice versa."