AMERICAN WRITERS, Supplement VII by Jay Parini

By Jay Parini

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What's the use of the vast mental burden of correspondence? " The drive of religious visionaries like Swedenborg and Emerson to harmonize the world, to make connections, and to create overarching meanings devalues the integrity of the particular. Tape contends that the mind's need for order is egocentric. Order is the result of myopia and exists only in the mind, which denies the disparities of reality. Organization, scheme, system, thesis—all cognitive models—should be avoided. Typically in Ammons' long poems, this contention conflicts with an equally strong Romantic impulse, but in Tape Romanticism is trounced.

Imagine! writing something that never forms a complete thought, drags you after it, spills you down, no barrier describing you or dock lifting you up: imagine writing something the CIA would not read through, the FBI not record or report, a mishmash for the fun-loving, one's fine-fannied friends! imagine, a list, a puzzler, sleeper, a tiresome business, conglomeration, aggregation, etc. " Ammons rebuts "art" with provisionary structures. Instead of the studied, adagio quality expected from poetry, the reader gets the poet, seemingly without preconception, way wardly taking in the world with such a variety of moods that Sphere, for all its richess of imagery, appears almost monochromatic.

Growing up in the country during the Great Depression put Ammons in intimate contact with nature and the hardships that come with a life of economic stress. He fed the hogs and chickens, cut kindling, built the fire, called in the cow, plowed the rich black Carolina ground with his mule Silver, and he loved his favorite pig Sparkle to her dying day at the hog kill. He went racoon hunting with baying hounds and took pleasure in his aunt's stories of his ancestors from Green Sea County. School let out in early spring so children could plow.

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