Friday, October 25, 2013


shy reticent quiet unobtrusive--gregarious talkative excitable confessional
marginal -- central
ancient (Shinto) -- modern

most references to the news and modern media--least like the media in presentation--still, the cinematic method

most open to influence  --  most individual
collective, communal --  distinctive, individualist

(most recognizable persona, personality--like McFadden and bpnichol bill bissett, etc.))

 most rational--most devotional, sacramental.

 Comparisons with bissett are here inevitable--bissett religiously devotional, mystical, Gilbert a materialist, almost pragmatic, believes in the spiritual, but does not find it as a reified thing outside the human personality.  Like Musil, finds it in the unity of intellect and emotion, brought together paradoxically by humor (not wit?)

 most self-concerned -- least self-centred

 (writes from self but assumes that his own experience, his own thought is often shared, hence, least interested in what "self" "thinks" and "feels", aims for the commonality--commonality = the same objects seen, the same human responses to these objects (objects as human objects), not dead representations (may be dying, may be decaying, may be damaged, but these characteristics establish connection, not separation)

least learned or scholarly -- most intelligent, knowledgeable
least changeable -- most different (same difference)
Contemplative  --  active

sophisticated  --  childlike  (sophisticated little boy)

interest in defecation, streaking, peeking.

modern  --  primitive
lyrical -- blunt
thin and frail -- wiry and resistant
open -- secretive
least reflective -- most thoughtful

humanized nature -- naturalized humanity
ordinarily miraculous  -- miraculously ordinary

ascetic profligate
calmly excitable  (but not excitably calm)
passively resistant -- resistantly passive
sweet natured -- hot-headed (not sulky or bad-tempered)
cooly emotional but not emotionally cool

outsider -- just like everyone else

artless -- careful technician

dedicated poet -- no artistic ambition

most definite -- most uncertain


state one side of the contradiction confidently.  Then state the other side equally confidently.

GILBERT = A CURIOUS BLEND OF THE NEW AND THE OLD. When you look at this photographs or his drawings, you have the sense that you are looking back through time.  Often they look smeared or water-stained, or faded.  At the same time, you know that you have never seen anything quite like this before, and the feeling is not at all like looking at an archaelogical object, a recovered piece,  perhaps more like viewing an object created by modern means (a camera, say or modern paints, or hip language) by a man unfrozen from the ice who, after learning the latest lingo and the latest technological tricks, tries to express his own attitudes and prejudices by adapting the new media to his ancient attitudes which have the important advantage of being free from modern prejudice.


common attitude in modernist (English) poetry = angst, terror, alienation, schizophrenia (eg. as in Eliot and Pound, the adoption of other voices for dramatic, other purposes).  Gilbert's commentary is always Gilbert's own commentary.  Gilbert's choice of quotations from the environment is always Gilbert's own choice; when ironic, irony is obvious.  There is anxiety, doubt, and separation in Gilbert, but he does not give up on the effort to establish certainty (certainty, paradoxically, founded on its opposite), security within anxiety, joining found in the common effort to face and at the same time overcome separation and difference



as his project goes on, it becomes deeper and richer.  No new conceptual material or content is added, but old conceptual material continuously develops and expands, what was unclear achieves clearer focus, it's place within the whole becomes more explicit


most fragmentary, but as it accumulates, most complete


Olson: Not accumulation, but change

Gilbert: Not change, but accumulation--change is the basis of accumulation--original change\difference supported by continued accumulation.


In his early days, a saintly, carven, polished look, Christ-like, Now the look of a slightly worn cleric


poems begin anywhere and seem to break off anywhere.  Yet usually these days fall within the 3 lines of the haiku form or the fourteen lines of the sonnet.


We all played with words as kids.  As kids

we all played with words.  With words as kids

we all played.


We gave it up because we learned that words
were supposed to mean
in other ways than the obvious ones.

Haiku records a perception?

Sonnet a thought?

Prose a narrative, a dialogue, a series of events, a sequence bound in time.


Poetry the sequence is not the sequence of outer experience, but the consonance of inner and outer worlds, the world of words and the world of things.  There is a timelessness within the mind, a moment without a moment or within a moment, a movement without a movement.


imagist:  an imagery of naming, of nouns, not of description(???)


Gilbert does not write to a preconceived, pre-ordered theme, apart from having established a project from the beginning to write his life story "from the inside" every day. Bringing the inside to the outside, establishes a series of links.  But it is also possible to separate out themes and reorganize entire books, or his entire oeuvre on this basis.


Each day's poem takes up a thread contained in yesterday's poem.  Poem after poem connects with other themes.  Finally, the structure exists.  You have to read two or three books (Not all the way through.  You can skip whole passages), but gradually the structure falls into place, and every poem you read thereafter finds its place within the structure easily, like a marble stuffed into a bag.  Here's the cat's eyes, here's the glassies, here's the steelies.  They're all marbles, and they all have similar, but different weights, similar but different uses.

Writing from the inside, cinematically moving from one object to another (my mind is a camera, still or moving) leaves the reader to reconstruct the context and situation, which may be established by emotion, by the objects noted, or whatever.  See the last poem in Azure Blues, obviously (??) a love poem.


When the ball stops rolling, the actor is compelled to pretend that it is still rolling, to pad the performance as if the narrative were still unfolding according to the preconceptions already set up in the observers' minds.  But the acrobat must leap, must invent the next move, the next trick, must change the terms of reference of the performance, of the dance.


The history of popular culture not from its facts but from the feelings Gilbert has.


The Alcazar, the Cecil, the Drake, the Anchor, Rohan's.


Oppenheimer Park: where the real life of the city all comes out in the wash, where all the real meanings really are.  Where life begins because this is where it ends.  This is the end.  The living end.


The bankers won't talk to him because they can't get anything from him, and clearly, they have nothing to give.  If they open up for a moment, he's bound to ask, and they will have to say no, because they must.  What else could they do?


They could get poetry, they could get the beautiful.  But they wouldn't know what to do with it even if they had it.  They would have to be responsible to it and that would cost them too much.  Only those who have nothing to lose can afford beauty and most of them don't want it anyway.  Would they know what it was if they had it?


Anyone can live this way, even those who don't, including those who work 9 to five.  It is not prejudiced about who is allowed to use it.  Everybody is given the necessary permissions.


same implies a criticism of some of Gilbert's more affluent contemporary poets, who make their living by teaching at the universities, supporting and being supported by the self-feeding activities of the small, university-based literary journals. which constitute an industry in themselves, inscribing and circumscribing the definition and activity of poetry so as to include themselves while excluding the likes of Gilbert, bissett and others whose social position denies them access to the academies.


There are three trends in Vancouver poetry modernism: the trend connected to the universities and colleges represented by the likes of say, George Bowering; the trend connected to the mass media, represented by the likes of Stan Persky and Brian Fawcett, who seem to be aiming to have a laudable, but mainly conventional influence on the main stream of writing activity through the journals and magazines of the mass media.  Thirdly, there is the "underground" trend, represented by Gilbert, bill bissett and Maxine Gadd.


All of these trends had their roots in the 1960s.  Their divergence reflects a divergence in social and political as well as artistic agenda.  The Perskys, Fawcetts and Bowerings stand for, signify, the existence of an avant garde, of the possibility of an entirely different attitude and approach to the world, without themselves completely living that other possibility.  From their warm places inside, they point to what exists outside the doors, beyond the pale, as it were.  Gilbert, however, is the real thing.  He actually lives out there, in an actual place, where their fingers mainly only point from a place of belonging and security. 


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