Daniel Albright, a teacher of mine at UVa who is now at Harvard, returns often to the theme of "elementary particles" in poetry, music, and art--the charged, irreducible core memes that make art art. His writing has much to say to current digital practice, I think, where pixels, vectors, and 1s and 0s have become a philosophical as well as technological obsession. Quantum Poetics: Yeats, Pound, Eliot, and the Science of Modernism mercifully sidesteps New Age-y Tao of Physics murk in favor of single-minded focus on the wave/particle duality, dividing the poets into one or the other function. Thus, Yeats surfed The Wave with the all-encompassing poetic cosmology of A Vision, the image- and vortex-seeking Pound was a particle man, and Eliot's perverse blend of urban anomie and squishy undersea metaphors seemed All Wave until the appearance of "Christ particles" in his late work. Untwisting the Serpent: Modernism in Music, Literature, and the Other Arts begins with a consideration of the Laoco÷n problem--Lessing's formulation of the "rules" for expressing ideas in different media--and then zeroes in on peak moments in musical theatre where sounds, speech, and scenery achieve a synaesthetic unity. Albright takes most of his examples from the early 20th Century and avoids recent artforms based on newfangled gadgets, but many concerns of the Modernists--the interest in science, the exploration of psyches shaped by a technological society, the centrifugal splitting of aesthetics--have never been more relevant. (Which is not to say we have to throw out poMo critiques of those agendas.) Fair warning and/or full disclosure: In this blog and future writings I'll be leaning heavily on my old Prof's work as I stumble around trying to make sense of what's going on with new media, electronic music and tech-based gallery art.

- tom moody 10-26-2004 8:31 pm

"Quantum Poetics: Yeats, Pound, Eliot, and the Science of Modernism" ...holy kamoly that book costs $100USD! Sounds extremely interesting though. I guess I'd better pay my late fee at the library.
- sally mckay 10-26-2004 9:17 pm

my first run-in with google print.
- dave 10-26-2004 9:28 pm

Re: the cost--I know, I know. And it's even some kind of digital, print-to-order printing. Used copies on Amazon start at $75. I can't recommend it enough, though. Albright can't write a bad sentence, and looks up all the obscure Pound references so you don't have to (just kidding but not really). $100 gets you how much crack?
- tom moody 10-26-2004 9:39 pm

"Albright can't write a bad sentence"
That's enough to get me shopping.
- LM (guest) 10-26-2004 11:54 pm

amazon's search inside this book feature

- bill 10-27-2004 12:04 am

That's the text Dave found via Google print--which I'd also never used.
- tom moody 10-27-2004 12:10 am

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