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Monday, June 20, 2011

A Comment on Marjorie Perloff's Review of Verntrakl in the L.A. Review of Books



I could comment at some length, and quite critically, on Marjorie Perloff's review of Verntrakl, but will do so only on my http://artscritic.blogspot.com/ since L.A. Review’s Tom Lutz already advised me that his organ would “never never never print a letter to the editor of mine” after I made a number of comments about the journal (*). Thus I confine myself initially to the merely factual, which is the very least one might get right nearly 100 years after the poet’s death: Trakl was the son of a well to do metal merchant in Salzburg who could afford his children a French Governess, of passionate Catholic persuasion it appears, and if Trakl was poor, financially, only since he used his stipend from Ludwig von Figger, the publisher of Der Brenner, to finance his habit. His friend Roeck noted that Trakl spent two Kreuzer a day [of his monthly stipend of 200] just on drink and tobacco which sufficed for the existence of normal person! Trakl traveled in the best circles of Austrian art at the time: Kokochka etc. A poor student Trakl did not graduate with the usual matura but then from Pharmacy school which put him in an excellent position to indulge his veritable cocktail of drug habits and allowed him to volunteer as a medic at the start of WW I, and although he appears to have suffered a mental breakdown it remains uncertain whether he committed suicide or odeed, unlikely as that would seem to be if is reported from cocaine.
   
There appears to be little doubt that the incestuous relationship with his younger sister was consummated, who was also a beneficiary of his talents as a pharmacist, and who incurred his jealousy on fucking Trakl’s best friend Erhard Buschbeck – within the position of that continuum of possible reactions. Baudelaire was as influential as Rimbaud. However Professor Perloff might have noticed if Verntrakl doesn’t – and if Verntrakl  is the chief source of her information, I say “woe” - that Trakl’s lines become heavily indebted to Hölderlin’s and thus to Greek meter as it finds its home there to accommodate a melancholy state of mind once Trakl abandons the strict quatrain verse form – which are remarkable for the conflict between form and content, new content in old bottles as it were. I imagine I need to take a look at Verntrakl itself, since it is not clear from the review whether the author who initially is said not to know German then bothered to learn it well enough to respond to Trakl texts in the original. However, both Professor Perloff’s description of the text and her take on Trakl make me suspect that we have yet another instance of American sentimental appropriation and distortion of a foreign writer, the list of which is becoming too long to mention.
Ms. Perloff mentions “Google” in her review, the German department
at Stanford, that best as I can tell has improved since my days there around 1960, is also just a hop skip or a quick jaunt in wheel chair off, and would have afforded her equal opportunity to get elementary facts straight. Trakl’s use of words of color to freight emotions bears evident relationship to the painters of those days, and into the future. His religiosity I would say differentiates him from the standard issue poet maudite; there would seem to be a connection between the imagism of those days, the general breakdown of
Victorian verse forms can be noticed throughout the West. I would guess that with his knowledge of French literature Trakl was also familiar with Mallarmé.

(*)the LA REVIEW OF BOOKS
has published so far I am fairly underwhelmed...but struck, in particular, by the persistent
insularity of this new venture...
as though Mexican literature were not next door [2 million Mexican in L.A.]
not to speak of the literature of the many language ghettos that I came to know during my eight years in that regionFARSI [500,00 Persisns], KOREAN [1,3 Million I heard the other day], CHINESE, PASHTUN, JAPANESE,
ARABIC, etc. etc. Making the L.A. Review a kind of last holdout of Anglo culture, although it bears more relationship also in its reactions to U.C. Riverside where Anglos used to go for the air in Winter when the air was still breathable around 100 years ago.
The persistent interest in such well-shelled nuts as Marylin Monroe,
the Mitford, Keith Richard, the Hollywood Sign and I could go at
considerable length... and in having its say on matters that have been raked to death...and so far I havent come one a single new voice there...        


"Er braucht 200 K monatlich: 2 K pro Tag für Weintrinken und Rauchen. Wie viele Menschen l e b e n mit diesem Geld g a n zErhard Buschbeck hatte. http://www.georgtrakl.de/4-phase.htmlLudwig von Ficker




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MICHAEL ROLOFF http://www.facebook.com/mike.roloff1?ref=name Member Seattle Psychoanalytic Institute and Society this LYNX will LEAP you to all my HANDKE project sites and BLOGS: http://www.roloff.freehosting.net/index.html "MAY THE FOGGY DEW BEDIAMONDIZE YOUR HOOSPRINGS!" {J. Joyce} "Sryde Lyde Myde Vorworde Vorhorde Vorborde" [von Alvensleben] contact via my website http://www.roloff.freehosting.net/index.html

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