Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Ashbery on the Crisis

I am aware that I should have something to say - other than observing the baldness of Darling - about the latest phase in The Crisis. Alas, I seem to have nothing. Lots of other bloggers and columnists are banging away about this but my credulity has snapped. They're just pretending to know something and, alarmingly, clear ideological divisions are now appearing between neo-liberals and neo-Keynsians. This will have the effect of entrenching positions which - and this I do know - are wrong because not determined by reference to present reality. Indeed, they are smothering present reality. Far from knowing what should be done, most of us - actually all of us - don't know what is happening or has happened. 'Uncharted waters' is a phrase often used, which is true enough in its way but the full implications of the words are not understood. People tend to use the phrase as a prelude to the pretence that they know how to do the charting and, anyway, all waters are uncharted, a truth which the comment culture finds hard to accept. So sod them all, only great poets can handle this stuff. Here's Ashbery on the true meaning of uncharted.

Tomorrow is easy but today is uncharted,
Desolate, reluctant as any landscape
To yield what are laws of perspective
After all only to the painter's deep
Mistrust, a weak instrument though
Necessary. Of course some things 
Are possible, it knows, but it doesn't know
Which ones. Some day we will try
To do as many things as are possible
And perhaps we shall succeed at a handful
Of them, but this will not have anything
To do with what is promised today, our
Landscape sweeping out from us to disappear
On the horizon.


  1. this time we know the bike is broken but still we try to get back on.

  2. Well, that's about the sanest thing I've read about the Pre-Budget Report.

    I have to write about it, though without comment.

    If I did have to comment I would only say: "Darling has attempted to do some things about something we don't understand and may not have any control over. These attempts may or may not help some or most people or things."

  3. But what has Darling actually done? Two and a half percent off VAT, but there's no Vat on most food or clothing and the two things we need that have VAT on are unaffected - petrol and drink.
    The rest of it is to happen at various times in the future, after an election. It's all sophistry. Humphries's questions on Today assumed that the tax changes were going to happen now, but they're not.
    There is nothing they can do - we've run out of money and we don't know how to get any more. And those countries with the money can't do anything with it and aren't going to be making any more, so we're both up the creek.
    Batten down the hatches for a long siege.

  4. The King family possesses an atavistic principle that when the shit really hits the fan we should head North. I'm off to buy some stout boots.

  5. I don't care if you think I'm banging on about it but I have just heard the craziest comment ever to Ausfahrt from a politicians mouth..
    From that wretched bint Cooper...
    "Of course eventually we will be asking those on over one hundred thousand to pay a little bit more"
    Asking!!!, Asking!!!

    A brand new language is rising from the depths of the recession.
    Any ubersetzers out there?
    Its not Ashberys poetry we need right now, it's a group of trained assassins.

  6. This link was left by a commenter on David Hepworth's excellent blog and is well worth watching. Something you wrote about the inability of people to believe conditions favourable to them could actually change sort of sprang to my mind.

  7. I also note that all of the economic experts who waffle on in the broadsheets have suddenly started pretending that they knew all along that this crash was coming, denouncing Brown's boom for which they were all cheerleaders until a few weeks ago as 'silly' etc. Tossers. By the way, has anyone noticed if Polly Toynbee is back to getting hot flushes over Action Man Brown now that he's strutting his stuff on the world stage, or is she still in the huff with him?

  8. Actually I just swung by her column and she is talking even more shite than usual. Apparently the crisis is great because it's forced Labour to go back to their roots and thus the arrival of social democracy is imminent. I think it must be coming down from heaven, like the New Jerusalem.

    Zut alors!

  9. Or we could just say, UKplc's credit rating is heading south as the unknown, seemingly sizable, and historically large risks build up in the system.

  10. Seems that until a week ago they were planning to raise VAT, not cut it.

    We're all just stabbing away in the dark.

  11. What do you think of Kirsch's opinion of Ashbery? (V. The Modern Element.)

    The LOA Collected is very strokable.