Search This Blog

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

All that is Solid Melts into Air - Berman's Howl

"Thus, in Allen Ginsberg's 'Howl'...remarkable things are happening...urging us to experience modern life not as a hollow wasteland but as an epic and tragic battle of giants. This vision endows the modern environment and its makers with a demonic energy and a world-historical stature that probably exceed even what the Robert Moseses [Fausts and Trumps] of this world would claim for themselves. At the same time, the vision is meant to arouse us, the readers, to make ourselves equally great, to enlarge our desire and moral imagination to the point where we will dare to take on the giants. But we cannot do this until we recognize their desires and powers in ourselves... Hence Ginsberg develops structures and processes of poetic language...that recall and rival the skyscrapers, factories and expressways he hates. Ironically, although the poet portrays the expressway world as the death of brains and imagination, his poetic vision brings its underlying intelligence and imaginative force to life—indeed, brings it more fully to life than the builders were ever able to do on their own... They could not bear to look into the nihilistic abyss that [Faust's/Moses'/Trump's] steam shovels and pile drivers opened up." 
—Marshall Berman [Archi-Poet], All That is Solid Melts into Air (1982), p311.