Comments, why bother?

I’ve had a few emails asking me why I don’t have my comments turned on. I said I would consider turning them on again, but recent events at a few blogs remind me why I turned them off in the first place. You’d think people who purport to care about language might think about the words they use, but no… And particularly in the comment threads, huge gaps of unconsiousness appear, aspects of human nature I know exist, but would rather not have to witness. What use such volleys might have I’ll never know: my sense is that rather than comment folks should go and write an essay, develop a thoughtful response, anything but offer their often inane and bombastic responses. No, instead of thoughtful, or productive, we get these extensive, flaming attacks.

But if we can define a “just war,” I suppose we can define a “just attack.” There are those who take the language of war quite literally: they take aim, they have game plans, they stake-out their territory, they destroy the opposition, and if the opposition, or even their own platoon, balks at their behaviour they say “go hide in the fox holes” if you can’t stand the shooting, or worse, “back in the kitchen, bitch…”

I’ve been thinking about the language we use to discuss poetry and it’s amazing to me how personally people take it. I mean, not that it shouldn’t or doesn’t matter on a personal level, but how literally they think they can define, not just their own “poetry” but poetry as a project, or even a nation. We have people literally digging trenches, unrolling the barb-wired, claiming they are “saving the canon” or defending their turf out of love, in some cases…a lover’s quarrel?
Good God. Is there anything useful in this?

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