… We keep on moving till it stops and the movement goes on alone.
… Duncan is already recognizing that incoherence is part of any event and that it has its own coherence because it is of the man who makes it. Both Duncan and Creeley want a writing that can lead on following the sounds. Both men also share the sense that you can begin anywhere and that almost anything can enter the compositional field if it does so with enough intensity, literally earns its place. It is worth stressing that Duncan sees the word as autonomous and apocalyptic and the image as a natural emergence from the poetic organism, “something actually seen in the process of the poem, not something pretended or made up.”
[ … ]
The poem does not contain itself.
A listing of horrors described with inaccurate adjectives sheared would have produced greater shock — the cumulative adjectives exhaust whatever fine tension of feeling the poet may have had in the concept — but it is reduced to hysteria and the force of the poem loses by waywardness, thrashing about. The right words (found, culled) and not overloaded with adjectives for fear the point will be missed if too spare. It’s spareness that’s needed here, to let the poem emerge from its adjectival obfuscation.
The poem builds to hysteria. The last section is chaos, the logical conclusion to the build-up. The poem scatters itself, finally, on its own pitiful frenzy. A way has not been found.
[ … ]
… What was it that Creeley found at Black Mountain that so attracted him? Creeley convincingly suggests that the answer may well be a group of “highly volatile and articulate people in rather extraordinary circumstances of isolation,” people who matched and echoed his own personal extremity. Rumaker addresses the man and his work, the significant evidences of his writing:
[line break added] “His is a scrupulous and highly exact examination of conscious processes. His own clearances, then as now, are in areas of excruciating wakefulness. If his demons are ‘conscious’ ones, they are, paradoxically, no less real and terrifying than those lurking in the dark under-roots of the unconscious. Yet much of his writing has the quality of dreams, in definitions of consciousness so newly realized that they have an other-worldly aura, so foreign are they, seen from the prospect of his unique and stripped-down acute angle of vision …”
[ … ]
… And to conclude, should I have to look for a phrase that holds so much of the intent, the desire, the energy, perhaps I’d select that remark of Duncan’s, “conception cannot be abstracted from doing.” It serves as the quintessence of an American aesthetic, allowing the poet to catch the energy pulsing in a single word, the painter in a single brushstroke. Black Mountain, like a poem or a painting, came to an end when it had nothing else to say, or when the energy ran out, or when there was no more money.
[line break added] But then again, at another level, it clearly didn’t end. The pulse continues until we stop. This is the place wherever we are: “All that would matter to me, finally, as a writer, is that the scale and the place of our common living be recognized, that the mundane in that simple emphasis be acknowledged.” We keep on moving till it stops and the movement goes on alone. Here is a man and here are his words, and in paying attention to the latter the former takes shape.