Wednesday, March 22, 2006
I’ve been pretty amazed by what Jim Bearle has been posting on his blog lately. Because his comics invite us into a kind of intimate, though often antagonizing, relationship with their author, I feel it’s alright to say it seems like he hasn’t been too happy lately, that he feels something of what he’s done has been misunderstood. I don’t know that Ron Silliman’s “tragically out of control” is quite right—perhaps it’s more like “tragically self-loathing.” But, then, isn’t that the principal muse of the tradition of comics he’s writing himself into? The comics really stun me. Reading them—especially the recent “Stone Cold Poetry Bitches” pieces—is like looking into a mirror that shows much of the ugliness, pettiness, and wrong-headedness that I’m afraid to face in myself. Whether intentionally or not, Bearle has made himself into one of the principal chronicalers of the poetry scene of this moment, with all of it’s infighting, backstabbing, and undirected passion, to name some of the bad things. He’s also shown it to be a world that is profoundly concerned with its own integrity, something he is helping to preserve. And he’s exploring the medium of the blog in a way no one else is, a medium which is not only capable of broadcasting one person’s thoughts, but of broadcasting those thoughts in immediate response to others’ thoughts and to events as they transpire. And the most recent comics, the takeoffs on Optic Nerve, seem to me to do what the best alternative comics do: make the self-loathing, fear, and culpability of their author into compassionate, ultimately redemtive mirrors for the reader. There does seem to be something of a tragic spinout to Bearle’s recent posts, but I think they’re some of the more important contributions to the unfolding story of the poetry blogosphere to have come along. I’m not sure that anyone disagrees with me on any of this, but I just felt like saying it.
Posted by Craig Morgan Teicher at 3/22/2006