Sunday, June 26, 2005

One Doesn't Know Anything

"What I would like readers to think about beyond the concept of free association is the fact that, during my interview with Ashbery, he insisted “But one doesn't know anything! That's the problem.” It is this extremely welcome and humble take on knowledge – “one doesn't know anything” – that I think is crucial for appreciating Ashbery's poetry. To be a poet who admits that he doesn't know anything is to admit doubt and to reject the cliché of the poet as impassioned, prophetic figure. At the same time, it is also an imperative to search for knowledge – and such a search can take place using the vehicle of free-association. Not knowing anything impels the knowledge-hungry Ashbery to absorb and express some of the energy that is constantly swirling about us, even if such expression is always bound to lead to more questions and exploration."

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