Sunday, July 19, 2015

The School of Quietude: Site/Sight/Cite of Origin of Silliman's Poe Borrowing

(reposted from two days ago, with images added--)

(I also include below following M. Richard's essay-excerpt, a post sent Saturday which also is about Poe and the Quiet its, the heretical Roman Catholic beliefs which were immensely popular and much used in Spain, France and Ital in the 17th Century. Aspects of the QuietistQuietists such as St John of the Cross and St Theresa of Avila. Poets of a mystical bent, or mystical in the presence of Nature, may also be a part of the Quietist heritage. A contemporary Quietist is Robert Grenier, for example.who is sometimes cited as one.)

As Maria had asked re the first use of the term School of Quietude (which i thought was the name given the Language Poets as they are with avant and post avant so quiet on events off the page)--i found it where else, detailed in an essay by a French writer!

(My Poe mania begun at an early age, was immensely aided by learning to read in French, via initially Baudelaire's brilliant translations, and from there to the great critical writings on Poe in French since Baudelaire's translations--which were accompanied by two version sof a rather fantastic bio of Poe. .)

Something i find curious re Mr Silliman's use of the term "School of Quietude: is that he doesn't seem to really know from whence it came, nor in what precise context, nor what the direction of it in the actual poetry world of Poe's time was.

That is, "School of Quietude"has been made known and discussed by persons, and al without wondering where the term came from , beyond the bland note of Mr Silliman's of it being from something Poe wrote in the 1840's (Poe could not have written anything beyond that as he died in 1849.)

Then i wondered in turn why it is that the Poe has never been delved into, as Baudelaire is often ignored in favor of "Benjamin's Baudealire."
In a sense, to found a long criticism of a School of Quietude without the precise understanding of where and when it actually occurred and in what context--and for tht criticism to continue out through 9out the vague cosmos of criticism --is to found what is supposed to have the precision of critique on vagueness.

In a way it is yet another example of the history of American criticism and treatment of Poe since Rufus's Griswold's Damning Obituary's. Poe may be alluded to vaguely since that gets one off the hook of actually having read him, or taking the time to dig into his works.

(In a Poe class some years ago there sat a direct descendent of Mr grsiwold, taken the class as he said, like a Haswthorne character, to expiate the family guilt for the murder of Poe by obituary--)

It is, after all "to know and make sure of the actuality of one's sources.".Withut really checking, you never know, the term might have meant something quite different that the version given to it today--or have been the made idea of a third person in which one has as so often prosepopoiea displacing actuality, history; with historcal persons, events. as so much fiction to be moved out of the way.

Does the whole edifice of the critique of Silliman begin to erode, corrode and beigin to melt once the vagueness of its foundations are laid bare? Who knows? Probably not--

The idea of verifying and examining and finding the sources of information and ideas is not tit picking activity, but the examination and finding of evidences with which to build a case. And often enough in many walks of life and disciplines of learning, to not be precise might cost you your head. Or all of you!

The lack of precision was one of Poe's hobby horses that he would mount when in full Tommy Hawk Man form, hatcheting the vague and lame uses of syntax, grammer, turns of phrase and often enough the evidences at least to his eyes of plagiarisms.

Not that Poe did not write "puffery" himself esp when it came to the poetry of a poetess he was thinking of wooing.

Though I shd note that, like Poe, Mr Silliman was first using the word Quiet before the emergence of the vaguely attributed-to- Poe "School of Quietude" In the entry below one may a similar development in Poe--.

This is where i found the explanation of the origin of the phrase The School of Quietude--
and following it re-posted my previous letter to distinguish Quietism from Quistude--

One should really read the essay in its entirety as Ricard details the history of a what in the US is an ignored piece by Poe, and has been read as a brilliant work in France, esp by Andre Breton who included it in his book on Black Humor, and other surrealists who found evidences of automatic writing in the tale.

The image of Poe in the US today is dicscolored by one of the most damming obituaries in history, Rufus Griswold's defamatory and inflammatory "burying" of the actual Poe and putting in ts place the insane drunkard, author gimmicky talest that onlyFrench people pretend to elevate to the level of Great Literature.
Personally i think much of Poe's writing in terms of its ideas, concepts, paradoxes, uses of codes and anagrams, studies of writing is til considerably in advance of the most "postmodern" and "avant ' works. Robert Smithson noted how Poe's "Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym" could be used as excellent thinking for criticism on Earth Works.
He is also the first, as William Carlos Williams notes in his chapter on Poe in In the America Grain--the first American critic who really went for the jugular on the importance of grammar, syntax and form in American Poetry, and thus became known as the "Tommy Hawk Man" (Hatchet Man today) in American Literary History.

It should also been noted, re M. Richard's brilliant exposition, that one should also note that one of the reasons that Poe hated Boston was that it was there that his mother died, under his watchful eyes as a very very young child. Poe''s first book of poetry was ironically published in Boston--ironic, as his description of the Transcendentalist poets living in the area was "The Frog Pondians."

(Hawthorne used the Transcendentalists' journal The Dial as a soporific, to rapidly send him off into hitt afternoon nap worlds---)

All the same,Poe gave some very well received and, for him, lucrative readings in boston . . .

here is an excerpt from "Aeeant Bubbles" by Claude Richard, and following it re-posted my previous letter to distinguish Quietism from Quietude--

rhe excerpt from

Arrant Bubbles:
Poe's "The Angel of the Odd"

Claude Richard

Université de Montpellier, France

really excellent essay by Claude Richard, at the time (1969 at the Universite de Montpelier (The town Vermont's State Capitol is named after.)

Text: Claude Richard, "Arrant Bubbles: Poe's 'The Angel of the Odd'," Poe Newsletter­, October 1969, Vol. II, No. 3, 2:46-48

Next on our hero's indigestible bill of fare came Henry T. Tuckerman's Sicily, a romance set in the exotic landscapes indicated by its title. Tuckerman should be remembered for sharing with few others the honor of being alluded to in one of Poe's poems; in "An Enigma" we may read these graceful lines:
The general Tuckermanities are arrant Bubbles — ephemeral and so transparent (8).
In a little known article, a review of Isabel; Or, Sicily, published in Burton's Gentleman's Magazine for July 1839 (V, 60), Poe had somewhat qualified the meaning of the word "Tuckermanities." But nowhere do I find a hint that he deemed the work boring; the tone is amicable but for one unfavorable remark: Sicily is a travel book on which an incongruous romantic story has been clumsily superimposed so that the scenes belonging to the romance and those belonging to the notebook are artificially welded together into one single narrative, the main trend of which is lost under the "grossly inartistical" coincidences. Tuckerman should also be remembered as the editor of a literary journal who rejected "The Tell-Tale Heart" with the following commentary: "If Mr. Poe would condescend to furnish more quiet articles, he would be a most desirable correspondent." Poe's response was, "If Mr. Tuckerman persists in his quietude, he will put a quietus on the magazine of which Messrs. Bradbury and Soden have been so stupid as to give him control" (9).
It is not, I think, too farfetched to surmise that "The Angel of the Odd" was written in ironic response to the writers associated with the works mentioned at the very outset of the tale. First, the members of what we might call the "school of quietude": the word "quiet" often crops up in Poe's reviews, invariably attributed to a certain group of Boston poets and critics. Tuckerman, of course, was a Bostonian and had been the editor of a very quiet review, [column 2:] The Boston Miscellany, with which Poe was very familiar.

In contrast, The Columbian Magazine, in which "The Angel of the Odd" was first published was a very un quiet New York review edited by a true-blue New Yorker, John Inman. At that time, October 1844, Inman was one of the most rabid of the "Young Americans," a democratic set whose main literary foes were the Boston poets of the school of quietude and the "raving, ranting" Bostonians. Poe took an active part in the squabble between the "Young Americans," who were the proponents of a muscular and popular literature, and the Boston poets, who were attached to a more genteel, more traditional, more quiet conception of literature (10). The leading critics of the Boston school in 1844 were Rufus W. Griswold and Henry T. Tuckerman, the authors of the two most conspicuously placed books in the list presented at the beginning of the story. If the satire on Tuckerman and his like seems too sly to be easily grasped and the conclusions too farfetched, it should be remembered that Charles Frederick Briggs, in his hilarious satire on New York, The Trippings of Tom Pepper, introduced Tuckerman under the name of Mr. Wooly, "the quiet critic from Boston, author of 'A Few Calm Thoughts on Literary Creation ' " and that these two adjectives, quiet and calm, were felt to be quite sufficient to enable the reader to recognize him immediately (11). Thus, "The Angel of the Odd," whatever else it may be, seems to be one of the skirmishes in the literary war between two cliques distinguished by two different conceptions of literature and culture.
I even wonder if Poe did not, with characteristic generalization, write the story as a satire on all New Englanders, the "crazyite" inhabitants of Concord as well as the "quiet" Bostonians. For another way to be incomprehensible, by Poe's lights, was to be a New England Transcendentalist.

This may explain why the Angel was given a Germanic accent. It is well known that Poe had a rather superficial knowledge of German culture but that he kept deriding the mystical trend of German philosophy even in his favorite critic, A. W. Schlegel (Works, XII, 131). In Poe's words, the Germans are "ranting and raving" just like Carlyle. We should remember that in Poe's peculiar vocabulary Carlyleism means "rumbling obscurity" — that is to say, a kind of redundant style (in imitation of the Germans) concealing intellectual vacuity which he describes in one of the Marginalia in words that closely parallel the description of the voice of the Angel: "The Carlyleists should adopt as their motto the inscription on the old bell from whose metal was cast the great Tom, of Oxford: 'In Thomae laude resono. Bim! Bom! ' and in such case 'Bim! Bom! ' would be a marvelous 'echo of sound to sense ' " (Works, XVI, 167). The voice of our German angel is described as "that which proceeds from an empty barrel beaten with a big stick; and in fact this I should have concluded it to be, but for the articulation of the syllables and words" (Works, VI, 105). These extravagant obscurities proffered with "owlish airs" remind me of the style of "certain members of the Fabian family — people who live (upon beans) about Boston" (Works, XVI, 166). These people have specialized in "Schwärmerei," that is to say "sky rocketing criticism." Most evidently these are the Transcendentalists and their Boston critics "who have a notion that poets are porpoises" for they are always talking about their running in "schools" [page 48:] (Works, XI, 177). Poe once described them as the critics of the Bobby Button school. Bobby Button himself is described in a way that reminds one of our Germanic Angel of the Odd: "Bobby Button is a gentleman with whom, for a long time, we have had the honor of an intimate personal acquaintance. His personal appearance is striking. He has a big head. His eyes protrude and have all the air of saucers . . . ." (Works, XI, 177-178).
This portrait, written a few months before "The Angel of the Odd," is to be found in a review of William Ellery Channing's poetry. (William Ellery Channing the Younger was another "ranting Bostonian.") The review is a very funny spoof of the literary "school" about Boston, as opposed to the school in Boston, and the portrait of Bobby Button seems to be an earlier description written with a similar touch and in the same humor as the portrait of the Angel.
It now appears that Poe's satire operates on two levels: the Angel may appear as a Transcendental critic using an abstruse, unintelligible German cant to justify the extravagant works of Boston writers whose romances are crowded with coincidence and unlikely events. On this second level, in fact, the tale appears to be a parody of the genres honored in and about Boston by the critics of the Bobby Button school.

p> Re: mourning & poetics‏

From: Poetics List (UPenn, UB) ( on behalf of David Chirot (david.chirot@GMAIL.COM)
Sent: Sat 7/04/09 10:50 AM

re grief i think the greatest line i read in English is the last line of
Faulkner's the wild palms
"between grief and nothing i take grief."
 Edgar Allan Poe, whose bi-centenary it is,  wrote an immense amount on grief
throughout his work and it is really his main theme, subject--source of
energy--"mournful and never ending remembrance' as he wrote--
"death looked gigantically down"
 a language of mourning and "working through it" in the sense of Freud's the
work of mourning (which could also be thought of as the work of morning, in
the way that Poe's morning on the Wissihican puns on Mourning on the
is Robert Smithson's work and writings with earthworks, in which the
mourning for the destruction of landscapes and earlier earthworks such as
Indian mounds--is "worked through" by bringing Earthworks art to collaborate
with the landscape itself using technology and yes also the corporations
responsible for the disasters--to work together to create a new landscape as
it were "out of the shell of the old" as the Wobblies say--
the mourning of the earth and the Morning of Time--in conjunction --the
mourning of the Goddess, Mother earth, the creation--and how to work with
the earth in "working through it together' with the humans who have brought
the mourning about--
Mohamed Choukri's great work For Bread Alone is a work of mourning re his
brother, killed y their father --and at the same time a morning as the
twenty year old illiterate Mohamed Choukri decides to learn to read and
write and become a writer--in classical Arabic, too--very difficult for an
educated person let alone an illiterate street person--
i know it is not poetry but then prose is often just as or more poetic than
much poetry-so i'd include the novel by the great Catalan writer Merce
Rodorede, Camellia Street 
Whitman wrote many mourning poems including the famous one for Lincoln--
   Robert Frost's Death of a Hired hand though dirge like is certainly a
mourning expressed throughout without intruding--

mourning and grief--and the ancient Greek dramas and poetry have some of the
in the western languages that have read
   "At five o'clock in the afternoon" the famous Lorca poem re a bullfighter
killed in the ring--
   a lot of Dylan Thomas' poems are the refusal to mourn, which is
paradoxically form of mourning----"Do not go gentle into that good
night',  "Refusal
to mourn the death by fire of child in London" etc—
   One moment of grief I recall very specifically is the last few lines of Toni
Morrison's Sula—
 And the horrific killing of the children in Jude obscure by their own
   And the greatest one I know
              Shakespeare has many a fine farewell in his poetry and plays--   "Death letter" by Son House—you can find him singing it in various versions
on you tube
When i first heard of quietest poetry i thought it meant the language and post language writers as they're so quiet & absent from everything happening off the page of their work
(Ironically if not a "lyric self" perhaps more like the lyric ego??---I don't know-though involvement with writer and words on page to the exclusion of the world in many ways beyond the immediate self—seems to be a major part of both language and what siliman calls quietist poetry
Actually there is a real Quietist Poetry, and a historical Roman Catholic heresy called Quietism, which is the practice and belief in attainting a state of perfection during life, a state which is sinless and is found through a passivity and contemplation in which the emptying of the mind and annihilation of the self make possible a perfect union with God. Quietism as a movement was very strong and widespread in Italy, Spain and France in the 17th Century and its influence has been found in writers who weren't directly Quietist yet share many of the beliefs and express them in their writings—St Theresa of Avila and St John of the cross for example.

There are also besides this 17th century existence of Quietist that had to be violently executed so to speak extracted from the main body of the Catholic Church—other much earlier strains of a Quietist form which did influence and grow into the Christian Quietism. The earliest forms are along the lines of the Stoic Philosophy and later its Roman descendents, which is how it must have "hooked up" with the Christian version.

A Quietist in a Christian sense then and not necessarily be a Christian, but is a Mystic, one who attains the union with God, or the Cloud of unknowing, the Spirit, and this occurs while the person is alive; it is no a heaven above but one here below—that is one of the heretical aspects of it as well as the idea that one may fuse with God in the manner of a personal individual contact as is the mystic experience, called Quietist or not.
In Louis the XIV's time, many prominent persons became Quietist, so it was under the protection of the king, and at the same time considered outlawed.
A poet like Gerard Manley Hopkins of r example might be thought of as a Quietist andand the Divine being. d also the poets whose work involves a deep fusing with Nature as an energy of (Inscape) spiritual power outside the human self before which that self must be sacrificed to break down the barriers between the human being
(In other words Quietism and Quietist poetry is transgressive, is about the attainment of non-self, which might be accept by Siliman after a fashion, yet the fusion with a Divine Spirit , something far greater than human being—perhaps wd not be so much accepted.) Though of course it is pretty idiotic of me to pretend to speak for Mr Siliman! O I apologize if the speculation "crosses the line."!--)
I don't see much difference between siliman and a quietist of the kind he describes, which is quite different fro the heretical form of Quietism. (Robert Grenier might be considered a Quietist poet of the heretical kind--)

and just wrote a piece re a poem by nada Gordon and one by James Levine being pretty much the same despite one of them being Flarf and the other supposedly conventional (each form, movement, style, establishes its own conventions and then has conventions to hear them discussed in the conventional manners--)

 It's very good to hear from you Mary Jo!
 And "glory Fourth"-!


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