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William F Dougherty

(West Hartford, CT)

Anecdote: Art and Apples


True art, the activist declared, protests
societal wrongs, and militantly attests
a social vision—or remains mere artifice.
'Exactly, ' the painter said, 'protest like this'—
and held a still-life print above his head:
apples by Cézanne, sculpted yellow, red.

The zealot scoffed, snidely cried,
'Protest against what? '

'Sloppy thinking, ' he replied.

Submitted: Saturday, April 07, 2012
Edited: Friday, June 29, 2012

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  • Steven Ralph (5/30/2013 12:07:00 PM)

    One of my favorites from days gone by, and you beat me up pretty good here below. I was the Merry Prankster for a while. I didn't mind a bit, though.... Anything new working? I'm hopelessly blocked and have returned to my guitar for inspiration. Hope you're doing well. (Report) Reply

  • William F Dougherty (5/22/2012 11:41:00 AM)

    With allowances made for several reasons, the Merry Prankster:
    # Misinterprets the specific point made in the poem he uses to hang-glide over centuries of poetics-the facile but fatal attraction of using poetry for political and propgandistic purposes. The Open Form (under various rubrics) has been the dominant manner of free-wheeling popular and amateur verse since World War I; the best of it can be found in comprehensive anthologies; most of it, dearly hugged as self-expression, disappears instantly, although pubescent girls who write ga-ga broken prose in lipstick to immortalize heart-throbs with acne confuse ego with art. For carefully spaced phrasal units, See Red Rain Keeps Plopping in W. C. Williams manner on PH.
    # The protest that poets are forced to curb their genius by being trussed into BDSM sonnets is a false issue, as
    Merry Pranksters, in unfettered liberty, exemplify. The fixed forms in English, borrowed from French and Italian
    poets of the Renaissance, got beaten into mush over a century, but over the last few decades the really
    gutsy poets have tried to modernize sonnets and villanelles by rescuing them from love-lush and amateur
    ding-donging. A little learning, A. Pope warned, can be a dangerous thing. Cezanne's work ushered in
    modern painting by violating the old conventions and introducing geometric grids and uses of color; he was
    the forerunner of cubism and abstract art, as all prankster art historians know.
    # Literary critics and poetry lovers also know that e. e. cummings' poetic experiments are the sizzle among the steaks. Surely the omission of capitalization and punctuation does not disguise the face that cummings not only wrote a number of poems in rhyming quatrains but also wrote clever,14-line sonnets, one of his favorite forms.
    Of the 19 poems by e. e. cummings in the college-level text, the Norton Anthology of Modern Poetry, seven (7) are sonnets, dated from 1923 to 1963. (Don't tell!) (Report) Reply

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