Notecard: Flow

"A practical difficulty of writing about Ashbery mirrors a potential problem with the book’s selective approach. Each time I highlight something from Ashbery’s texts, the flow of his writing holds my attention a few words further, chasing some essence that the lines keep pushing ahead of themselves/cresting into. I can’t catch it, and once again I’m instead simply reading John Ashbery, highlighting everything as I go.

The only adequate illustration of Ashbery’s writing, it turns out, is Ashbery’s writing. The only sufficient extract is the whole line, then the next one, then the next one. Poetry is “a record of its own coming into being”, he writes. The flow is the meaning; quoting feels incomplete.

But then incompleteness is an essential part of the experience. The converse of this difficulty is, of course, that Ashbery’s writing rewards dipping in at random and beginning to read."

- from Unfinished Business: The Captivating Afterlife of John Ashbery, via Elephant 

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