The Perpetual Three-Dot Column
The Perpetual Three-Dot Column
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by Jesse Walker

Wednesday, January 22, 2003
FLANN O'BRIEN ON POETRY: "Having considered the matter in -- of course -- all its aspects, I have decided that there is no excuse for poetry. Poetry gives no adequate return in money, is expensive to print by reason of the waste of space occasioned by its form, and nearly always promulgates illusory concepts of life. But a better case for the banning of all poetry is the simple fact that most of it is bad. Nobody is going to manufacture a thousand tons of jam in the expectation that five tons may be eatable. Furthermore, poetry has the effect on the negligible handful who read it of stimulating them to write poetry themselves. One poem, if widely disseminated, will breed perhaps a thousand inferior copies. The same objection cannot be made in the case of painting or sculpture, because these occupations afford employment for artisans who produce the materials. Moreover, poets are usually unpleasant people who are poor and insist forever on discussing that incredibly boring subject, 'books.' You will notice above that I used the phrase 'illusory concepts of life.' If you examine it carefully you will find that it is quite meaningless but since when did such a trifle matter? Poets don't matter and an odd senseless bit of talk matters little either. What is important is food, money, and opportunities for scoring off one's enemies. Give a man those three things and you won't hear much squawking out of him."

(from
The Best of Myles, 1968)


posted by Jesse 12:15 AM
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