This Olio will discuss a book that is specifically charged to break the mind out of cliché and into a perpetual freshness of language – and maybe cure writer’s block. That book is John Ashbery’s A Wave and the 20 page title poem, in Ashbery’s words “has the form of an argument without the content.” The strings of words lack ordinary stable referents but its language and something like ideas flow past, like water, often sounding right, before you have had a chance to know what was said. It is persuasive in the way instrumental music is persuasive and I will be bringing both symphony music and a surprising amount of Kanye West (including his most recent album) as parallels, as I explain the weird funny abstract wisdom of this poem that will never allow you to see language the same way again.
Think Olio is not about learning a new skill or adding credentials to your resume. It is about getting together with other people and expanding our worldview. It exists as a conduit for fruitful discussions, a dissent from the regurgitation of facts, and an embrace of new perspectives.