Wednesday, May 11, 2005


More Idolatry, more William Logan

It's a good thing the damn show is winding down, because I won't be able to come up with many more punning titles. Anyway, it was a mixed bag tonight, wasn't it? Bo grinned his way through that Travis Tritt piffle the first time around, then made like a rock star during the Gamble-Huff interlude. Carrie notched one of the worst performances ever, leaving "If You Don't Know Me By Now" in an utter shambles, and for once the judges were brutally frank with her. Even the odious Fedorov beat her out on that song, although his first turn was so icky I wanted to pour Listerine in my ears afterward. Sheesh. Vonzell was fine, whatever. Let's just get it over with. Bo and Vonzell will be the last ones standing. Then 30 million Americans will do some wacky calculus--taking into account talent, appearance, regional affinity, and some racial x-factor that I don't even want to imagine--and we'll be left in peace until the next time around.

It may seem that I can't think about American Idol without adverting to William Logan. Not true. I did, however, want to post a favorite passage of mine--a beautiful paragraph that makes the phrase critical prose sound pathetically crabbed and insipid. Hold onto your hats:
Every poem of value must have a residue. A residue is not a mystery or a withholding. It is the result of a continual ignition in the language, a combustion in the nearness of words--it is what lies beneath the surface value of words. We can wear out a poem as we wear out a favorite jacket or joke. In a minor poem the residue is small and easily exhausted, but in the greatest it suffers a constant renewal. It cannot be exhausted because our lives are not long enough to do so. Indeed, in the greatest poetry the residue may seem to increase as our experience increases--that is, as we become more ruefully sensitive to the fire in its familiar words.
Tremendous. I think the greatest prose harbors a similar residue, possibly in a more dilute form. To read the rest you'll have to buy Reputations of the Tongue. Need I say more?

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