Sunday, 30 July 2017


I had read that Indo-Europeanists knew that Hittites had come to Anatolia from outside. I was unimpressed by this. How could the shape of a language record a past migration?
I was rereading Benjamin Fortson’s masterly short sketch of the Anatolian languages recently and the penny dropped. Indo-European undoubtedly has initial r- and Hittite does not. However, a whole range of early languages of Anatolia are missing initial r-. This is highly compatible with Hittite having arrived from outside with a wave of immigrants who mixed biologically – familiarly, with the locals to give a massively bilingual community which re-normalized the old language with certain features of the local language – such a “negative rule” banning r- in certain positions. Since we know that the language ancestral to Hittite had initial r-, in the REX/RICH word for example, that would make Hittite an immigrant language which had come from outside.
The Net, again, reveals that 3000 tablets were found at the Hittite palace-complex of Sapinuwa (Ortaköy). The dig began in 1990 but apparently only 3 tablets have been published. Something has gone seriously wrong here. The find is quite close to the main tablet archive at Boghazköy and from the same time-span, so we do not have the hope of a variant dialect and information of a new kind. However, the new tablets should complete our information and strengthen the state of several hypotheses. They include bilingual vocabulary lists, surely a treasure.
Anatolia is a big place. However, the range of evidence for languages related to Hittite in the so-named Anatolian group covers a vast area, and it would seem that unlikely that the jump off point for the Hittite language was elsewhere in Anatolia and the journey was from, let’s say, Cilicia to the north-central area around Ankara. We have hieroglyphic Luwian from the Syrian border area (Carchemish) and Lidyan from the Aegean coast. It would appear that this branch of Indo-European immigrated into the region from outside.
Robert Beekes points out that there are only 700 legacy IE words in Hittite. We could hope that wider source material, such as the Sapinuwa archive, would bring a few more. For comparison, Welsh has 800 Latin loan-words dating from the Roman Empire. Anatolian is the first IE family to be recorded (maybe in 1800 BC), but had by then moved farther from the ancestral model than almost any other. We could reconstruct rather little of IE if we only had Hittite and Luwian to work from. This marginal status is hard to combine with a theorised central or source position.
The info on the Net indicates that 600 of the Sapinuwa tablets are in other languages, i.e. non-Hittite. That would include Hurrian, widely used by the Hittite polity in rituals.

As Fortson points out, Greek has no (original) initial r. Rhota only occurs, at the start of words, as aspirated. This goes back to an older s- which was reduced to a breathing. Thus the form rhei “it flows” (as panta rhei) goes back to the sr- root (English stream, Irish sruth). In older Greek there was no initial r-, just sr-. There is a word for darkness, in the Norse Ragnarök, twilight of the gods (ragna “of the gods”, rök “darkness”). This matches Greek Erebos (a dark place), Armenian erek ‘evening’. In each case the older initial r has been covered up by a kind of glide vowel. This is complementary to the Hittite evidence and gives us further knowledge of the geography of this sound-shift. Evidently, Armenian has spent most of its history in the Anatolian area, and it should be Anatolian in areal characteristics. Greek is historically, adjacent to the Anatolian languages. It belongs in the same “south central” square of the Indo-European map. The loss of initial R parallels Hittite/Luwian and would perhaps indicate that the Greeks crossed the Aegean from the east or that the peoples who lived on the Aegean before the Greeks had the same phonology as the people of Anatolia, so the Hurrians, Urartians, and so on. All this has a bearing on a well-known theory whereby IE was found in Anatolia – maybe even the Konya Plain – 7000 years ago and spread through Europe with the first Neolithic farmers, being carried in fact by the same humans, who gradually spread out taking farming skills with them. This does not fit very well with the Anatolian IE languages having come into the region from outside, evidently from the Balkans and probably originally from north of the Black Sea. Nor does it fit with the Anatolian group having the most degraded (! or most evolved/ innovated, works either way) version of the original language – which is preserved so faithfully in Lithuanian and Vedic. The “Neolithic = Indo-European” theory is in deep trouble.
Beekes (again) rejects this theory, pointing out that the slow expansion model would imply a long shared distinctive development of Celtic and Germanic, as adjacent language groups in Western Europe. In fact they have no shared history that we know of. The pattern of the IE families is compatible with a “yeast bubbles in bread” pattern, where pastoral groups spread rapidly and opportunistically through a densely populated peasant landscape, settling mainly where the inhabitants were few or the terrain was very suited to pastoralism. They leapfrogged opposition. So the success of the IE speakers as mobile invaders was also the catastrophe of the IE speech community, which broke up into widely separated enclaves, covering a huge diameter but also parted from each other by the peasant regions which had been bypassed and not swamped.
Renfrew’s theory emphasises slow pace, steadiness, continuity, even tranquillity. This process would have given a dialect continuum within Europe and Anatolia, but since we have gaping gaps between the language families we need rather to explain the discontinuities. India may offer a dialect continuum and may have been Aryanised through a different process. The shatter lines between the “families” may reflect the gaps between the original patches of intrusive steppe pastoralists in the early and mid-3rd millennium BC. Some areas are more suited to herding than others. What we seem to see is the farmer languages disappearing to leave an IE sea. This process is unexplored – those languages disappeared and have no history at all. We know about large “islands” of unrelated speech – Basque, Iberian, Etruscan.
The first written Indo-European language is found where writing already was and so where there was a dense farming population, rich enough to support a state superstructure and a profession of clerks. So it was fore-ordained that the first records of IE would capture a language which had not replaced the local population, numerous and thriving, but been absorbed by them in massive bilingualism, and so damaged. Its original structures had been extensively remodelled, metabolised, broken down. Hittite is a not a good source for the archaic stage of Indo-European. We don’t have a sociology of how Hittite died out, or indeed how Luwian, a related language which seems to have replaced it, died out itself. There was a social dynamic in Anatolia, as in Europe.
I would like to know more details about the fate of the legacy r- words. Did they acquire glide vowels? Were they replaced by local words? Or by near-synonyms? What is the replacement pattern? The scholars were right to say that Hittite came from outside. I just hadn’t known the reasons.

Sunday, 16 July 2017

Angel Exhaust legacy issues

Ever worried that you have missed an issue of Angel Exhaust? This is a sheaf of fliers for issues of Angel Exhaust still available for sale.


In issue 23 we run poems by Iain Sinclair, John Hartley Williams, Colin Simms, Kevin Nolan, Anthony Mellors, Ken Fox, AND Luke Roberts.
As the eerie carmine light of burning shopping malls revealed a new subjective landscape, John Hartley Williams was so transfixed by the uprising of 2011 that he translated the Illuminations of Rimbaud in a post-modern and thoroughly convulsive manner, turning the paint splashes into a labyrinthine clarity which we present here in its entirety. We include the whole of Paintsplashes. The poet has said this was a response to the riots and disaffections of summer 2011, which followed the police shooting of a man named Mark Duggan. “In London, where I was at the time, a mob was destroying the quartier a few streets east of where I sat. By chance I had come across a new 'translation' of this very work and contemplated it with scorn.” it was an illuminated moment:

The little deaths were taking place behind the rose bushes. Pregnant mothers had climbed on top of the clowns. The cheated cradles wept over the sand. A devilish fraternity of voyeurs, growling like brass bands, had crouched down in an oily field. We buried the elderly upright in memory of their gloves.

Elsewhere in an urban scenography corroded by money and metaphors, Iain Sinclair was moved to recover three unpublished books of his great work Suicide Bridge, of which we present two at their full extent. The original scheme, of presenting the new adventures of all twelve of the Sons of Albion, emerges now in its full infamy. Was Blake writing like HP Lovecraft or was Lovecraft writing like Blake?
We have a long essay by Simon Jenner on John Goodby, an interview with Gavin Selerie and some poems to celebrate his selected poems (‘Music's Duel'). Also reviews of 'Certain Prose of the English Intelligencer', of 'Blake in Cambridge' by Out To Lunch, and of forgotten jazz poet's Pete Brown's memoirs. An editorial on naive poetry & naive art identifies the strand of primitivism and naive subjectivity in the 'modern' wing of poetry.
The reforgotten return in altered form, and the 40-year career of Paul Green can now emerge into the daylight via James Keerys rich synthesis of science, cabbala, and theology, in disengaging the precious minerals of Communicator. Is this Peterboroughs laconic counterpole to Alan Moores glyconic prevalence in Northampton?
Hardly less heroically, Angel Exhaust hurls itself into the Somerset-like flood plain of 7 anthologies of young poets, containing at least literally the call-sign of 194 names. A slow camera picking out basic features of a new landscape. What is the nature of the new era? Have another ten years of history surfaced from the silty waters like a gleaming causeway? Has the old guard met its Dien Bien Phu? Has anyone under 40 even heard of the Underground? Do we know whats going on? Surfs up, everybody!
Plus the usual forays into Gaelic folklore and Egyptology.

200 pages
Price £6. Orders to 165 Coppice Road, Nottingham, Notts NG5 7GX. cheques payable to Andrew Duncan, please.

Angel Exhaust 22

The false, heroic head he once lifted above more or less the same crowd as that to which Captain Fuller and the anarchist Aldred proclaimed the new aeon has become cumbersome, monstrous. In the dim stale light it resembles nothing so much as the skull of a horse, but is sealed, lacking all seven apertures.

At length he becomes too irked by my pursuit to ignore it further and makes as if to summon me, but no power resides in him now, and when he swivels to claw at my shirt, the effect is merely comic. So he turns and brushes his fingers against the hedge wall afresh, flustered.

AE is overwhelmed by the wealth of material in this issue. First, we print book V of ‘The Memory of the Drift’ in its entirety. Next, a David Chaloner memorial. By singular good fortune AE has been given access to the archive of his letters. We chose a time of dialogue with John Hall. David's poems take place in a 'permanent present' and these remarkable letters are meant to recover a 'deep present', the Now in which the poems were written. This feature presents a moment of time preserved like a crystal, a formative moment for poetry. It is 1969 and: & just abt to begin Jeremy Prynne's book The White Stones have you seen that at all What have you been doing since our last letter & where are your poems appearing I've not seen any for such a long time Did you see the last copy of collection &  the last resuscitator I thought you'd've been there

Then, we open the window on a new generation with an anthology of Ninerrors poems. This field is so new that it can't be described. The concept  is ‘Twin Peaks': two moments, one of around 1969 and one of 2010. There is a 'continuity of the unknown' and the course of brilliant innovation which David was embarking on resembles the course of the poets around Freaklung.

as the freedom of information act failed to demand a
   supposed ‘transparency of normal speech’, it turns upon
   us to decolonize rhetoric & the wider sphere of language,
   syllable-by-syllable. we are to start with ‘radical’, ‘fairness’,
   ‘social’ & it’s derivatives, ‘rhetoric’, ‘free’ & words used in
   justifying a notion;
there is now animal fat in the extinguishers; we have begun to
   bribe refuse collections;
we have deduced the frequencies of sound that enact violence
   on private property, we
are counting heads

Maybe the comparison allows us a sense of deep time, the experience at levels beneath consciousness of a ‘group identity’, always dissolving in time but sustained by the linguistic or symbolic net of shared poems.
The third strand is what magazines are signed up for, a display of new poems and some information.
Poems by: Colin Simms, Rhys Trimble, Paul Holman, John Powell Ward, Graham Hartill, David Barnett, Harry Godwin, Nat Raha, Alan Hay, RTA Parker, SJ Fowler, Linus Slug, Gareth Durasow, Stephen Emmerson, Owain Lee, James Harvey, Michael Zand.

When we subtract the certain and the possible, there is the new poetry. What will they think of the poetry of the recent past?

160 pp., cost £7.00 including postage. cheques payable to Andrew Duncan. at 165 Coppice Road, Nottingham, Notts NG5 7GX.

Angel Exhaust 20 ‘You just rang Anne Widecombe?’– out now

material whose polished
surface becomes you
its character and interpretation
an exact technology
of tribal celebration
nut-brown warp thread
gold and indigo weave

you speak a tongue made
fluent by its origin
sensitised to the composition
of tectonic plates
(David Chaloner, from Void Heaven)

Awesome new poetry by John Kinsella, Kelvin Corcoran, Jeff Hilson, DS Marriott, John Goodby,  David Chaloner, Jesse Glass, Rita Dahl, Jason Wilkinson, Michael Haslam, Charles Bainbridge, Chris Brownsword, Colin Simms, Out To Lunch, Carrie Etter. 144 pp.

PLUS the results of a survey where contemporary poets explain what’s wrong with the poetry scene. A fearless analytical exposé of the moral gutter where the sleaze flows night and day. We toss those bastards into the big wok of repentance. We rake the muck and rack the mopes. It’s twilight for the deep pigs.

Q So are you going to put an end to all this nonsense in poetry? To abstract ideas, subjectivity, experiment, modernity, complicated technique, radical politics, all those up in the air things which the ordinary housewife doesn’t understand?
A Essentially, no.

In an intense options auction conducted by satellite, Charles Bainbridge and Andrew Duncan won control of the “Charles Bainbridge” and “Andrew Duncan” contracts and so Angel Exhaust is still being run by the original editors applying the same artistic policy based on beauty and tranquillity. The only magazine which has used three five-year silences to improve the structure of the literary field. Buy Angel Exhaust and say goodbye to those sub-prime cultural investments.

Price: £7.00 including postage. Address: 165 Coppice Road, Nottingham, Notts NG5 7GX. Cheques payable to ‘Andrew Duncan’ please.

This issue is being published late as a tribute to Britney Spears. The missing years “are part of the magnitude of what I’ve become.”


*pronounce: devastate your Aunt Jeremy

available now

poetry by:

Joseph Macleod Adrian Clarke   Alison Croggon
Kevin Nolan            Peter Philpott   Peter Manson  
Chris Brownsword Paul Holman Jesse Glass 
Kelvin Corcoran Philip Jenkins Brian Hardie  
David Chaloner Wayne Clements John Muckle 
Giles Goodland Ralph Hawkins 
Colin Simms Harry Gilonis
Andrew Duncan   Marianne Morris   Elizabeth James

Editors: Charles Bainbridge  Andrew Duncan

Methan Beerlight, postmodern viral marketing consultant, talks to Manly Bannister, Angel Exhaust's Head of Ideology, about product conformance issues for AE 19.
Methan: So why is there no blurb?
Manly: We favour calm and serenity. Our contributors look on public image as like having a 13-year old version of yourself following you around talking egocentric nonsense. 
Methan: Why did the last issue take 6 years to produce?
Manly: We had trouble finding a cafe to meet in.
Methan: Why is it called Invest in your arch-enemy?
Manly: We believe the unity of the poetry world is more important than quarrels about fine points of verse regulation. If you can't kill your neighbours, you have to intermarry with them.
Methan: Did you call for the government to withdraw grants from magazines which published reviews not totally favourable to the poets you publish?
Manly: No, that was someone else.
Methan: Why is it called Devastate your Aunt Jeremy?
Manly: It was a misunderstanding between the two editors.
Methan: Could we just describe the individual poets?
Manly: Let me go as far as I can. Corcoran is like Corcoran. Glass is like Glass. Holman is like Holman. Holman is more like Holman than like Morris. Poets like Philpott and Nolan are too overwhelming and intricate to be described in a few words.
Methan: I've never heard of them.
Manly: Maybe you should read Angel Exhaust.

ANGEL EXHAUST 19 available for £7 from 165 Coppice Road, Nottingham, NG5 7GX 
Cheques payable to "Andrew Duncan", please

think these issues were 2005 to 2015 roughly
The magazine started in 1977 and was founded by Adrian Clarke and Steven Pereira. The title refers to a shop near The Angel, Islington, which sold exhaust pipes. The goal of the magazine is an England where there are more poetry bookshops than tattoo parlours.
Perimeter Thralls are the raised shelf around the edge of the cellar of the traditional Nottingham pub, for holding barrels. 

Sunday, 25 June 2017


this is a link to a catalogue of postings on this website (that is, relating to British poetry 1960-97)

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Suicide Bridge - list of sources

Moon Burial: A Skeleton Key to Iain Sinclair's Suicide Bridge

Intro. I wrote about Suicide Bridge in about 1994 (see Origins of the Underground, published 2006) and the build-up to that involved looking at a lot of esoteric and fringe literature. That is really where I got going on 'psychoceramics', the scientific study of crack-pots. In 2013 I wrote a review of the second edition of SB, with the new material, which made me think how bad my first analysis was. This is really a very complicated text and describing it takes a long time. There wasn’t room for a source analysis in the review, but afterwards I thought that tracking down some (most?) of the sources would be useful, even if the use cannot be named. This is not a commentary although it supports the two short commentaries I have already published. To sum up, Sinclair has marshalled a lot of freaks in the way that a horror director might marshal magi, mermaids, and mad scientists. You don't need to read the crackpot stuff in order to enjoy Sinclair's great work. The concept of SB is to write adventures for each of the Twelve Sons of Albion named by Blake, and it is a follow-up to Blake. The differences between Sinclair and Blake are vast, but still this was the starting point.
The use of a list of this kind is mainly to allow conversations in the pub, where genuine leisure prevails. (Thanks to John C. Kozak for finding some of the more obscure references.) 
Secondarily, I suppose, to neutralise certain ideas – that is, to show that there is no political or even occult system behind Sinclair’s 70s books, rather that he uses pulp mythology in the way someone scripting a horror film might use it. SB is not a documentary or an attack on the ruling class. Its sources are, for the most part, junk and pulp. He does not believe in the truth of the esoteric sources in the way, for example, that Raine came to believe that Neoplatonism was the truth of the universe. He is not much interested in truth (not in Suicide Bridge, anyway).
-Andrew Duncan
Page numbers are for the 2013 edition from Skylight Press. William Blake is quoted throughout so the many quotes are not separately identified.

p.9 quote from Michael Ondaatje book as listed in the text
p.16 quote from Kenneth Grant book as listed in the text

p.16 'causality breakdowns' – quote from Hawking book as cited in the text on pp. 18-20. The black hole material may signify that the “suicide bridge” is through a black hole: you can go back in time at the expense of disintegration to the sub-particle scale. p.160 “his birth is out of willed suicide”. The link with “suicide bridge” in Archway is probably not there. 

p. 18 “MD” – from Melville MacNaghten's Notes on Jack the Ripper, written in 1894 and found in his papers. MD was one of the list of three suspects, originally published circa 1959 with initials only because of confidentiality issues. Later works, from the later 60s on, named “MD” as Montague Druitt. He features in Downriver and other novels. The list was first made public by Dan Farson, who features in Landor's Tower.
p.18 'orbit of the Killing vector: a vector defined by Wilhelm Killing. >>Killing tensor fields are symmetric tensor fields T such that the trace-free part of the symmetrization of {\displaystyle \nabla T\,} \nabla T\, vanishes. Examples of manifolds with Killing tensors include the rotating black hole and the FRW cosmology.<<
- this is part of the black hole imagery 

p. 19 “pale lunar figures” – Rimbaud, Nocturne Vulgaire?
p.23 'the material world and finite time' didn't get exact source but cf. “Two theologians (Zātspram 3.23 and the author of the Škand Gumānīg Vičār 4.63-79 [ed. J. de Menasce, Fribourg en Suisse, 1945]) have seen clearly that the world was created by Ohrmazd as a trap and snare for Ahriman: “By his very struggles in the trap and snare the beast’s power is brought to nothing.”
This is a Zoroastrian doctrine which explains the existence of the material world in terms of a trap to lure the evil principle out into materiality. >>Ohrmazd's strategy is that the good creation will act as a trap to capture Ahriman and neutralize his evil. Ahriman being aggressive, rash and ignorant (he "does not know the final outcome"), as against the thoughtful and prudent Ohrmazd, certainly the ultimate result will be the triumph of good; undoubtedly creation will be restored.<< - Wikipedia on Shikand-gumanig_Vizar, 9th C text.
a translation of the text is in Mary Boyce's Textual Sources for the study of Zoroastrianism, p.103.
MD played cricket against the Parsees' team, in 1888. The Parsees won.

p.21 Richard Cavendish – as cited in detail in the text

p.21 “death posture” – theories of Austin Osman Spare as written up by Kenneth Grant.
“The illustration entitled The Death Posture, which forms the frontispiece to The Book of Pleasure, contains, in an allegorical form, the whole doctrine of the New Sexuality.”
That Book was 1913. The exegesis is probably from Cults of the Shadow by Grant.
p. 30 “aggression can be generated...” unidentified.
p.34 Thomas Browne letter to a friend:
And therefore I could not but take notice how his Female Friends were irrationally curious so strictly to examine his Dreams, and in this low state to hope for the Fantasms of Health. He was now past the healthful Dreams of the Sun, Moon, and Stars in their Clarity and proper Courses. 'Twas too late to dream of Flying, of Limpid Fountains, Smooth Waters, white Vestments, and fruitful green Trees, which are the Visions of healthful Sleeps, and at good distance from the Grave.

Most of the text of the Letter is incorporated in the text of Christian Morals.

So could be either?
p. 29 contracting into worms:
Let the Human Organs be kept in their perfect integrity,
At will Contracting into Worms or Expanding into Gods,
And then, behold! what are these Ulro Visions.

34 "evil is the active springing from Energy. Good is ..."


p. 36 Spicer- American poet, details in the text
p. 38 Wilson – Colin Wilson
p. 39 “O Anubis” (and) “The four altars”
-from the Cantos, no. 92. Farfalla in tempesta is butterfly in the storm.
p.42 Guirdham: Arthur Guirdham, author of books on the Cathars and resurrection
p. 47 "leagued himself": “our brother Albion is sick to death.
He hath leagued himself with robbers! he hath studied the arts
Of unbelief!
- Blake, Jerusalem  

p.41 “too small to hold its blood” – Keats, The Fall of Hyperion

p.48 two Egyptian texts. “Ah helpless one” is Coffin text 74 (“The Revival of Osiris (Resurrection)” as printed by Rundle Clark in Myth and Symbol in Ancient Egypt. Translation probably by A de Buck. 

I am Atum...
is also translated by Clark, same book page 80, credits unclear but seems to be the Coffin Texts, as translated in Coffin texts, ( vol. 4, Spell 321), edited A de Buck (Chicago, 1939). This cluster of texts was a legacy of the Pyramid Texts, i.e. they are versions of the same amassment of spells and both are written on vessels of the dead (and designed to lead the soul through death).

P. 50 “the spiritual in all”: unidentified but as it does not make sense it may be Charles Olson.
“Whiteheads simplest statement”.
p.50 “taozer babbling of the elixir” - Pound, Canto 55 or thereabouts. silly name for a Taoist.

P 54 “they went without shields” - Eliade, From Primitives to Zen,  p.294 – extract from the Volsunga Saga describing berserkir.

55 “London stone” <<London Stone was a well-known landmark in medieval London, and when in 1450 Jack Cade, leader of a rebellion against the corrupt government of  Henry VI, entered the city with his men, he struck his sword on London Stone and claimed to be "Lord of this city". Contemporary accounts give no clue as to Cade's motivation, or how his followers or the Londoners would have interpreted his action. There is nothing to suggest he was carrying out a traditional ceremony or custom.<<
- probable match
>>Upon entering London, Cade stopped at the London Stone. He struck the stone with his sword and declared himself Lord Mayor in the traditional manner. By striking the stone, Cade had symbolically reclaimed the country for the Mortimers to whom he claimed to be related. <<
55 “peachy clotted tide of sound” - Wyndham Lewis, BLAST 1, 1914 
56 'in self hood' – Blake
p.61 Casualty Report: book, Robert Soma, 1971

p. 66 quote from The Daily Telegraph, date unknown

p. 70 “oh my grief” (mo chreach) – Synge, Playboy of the Western World

73 the moon in a hood story . This is printed as “the buried moon” in More English Fairy Tales by Joseph Jacobs. The match is not identical so Sinclair may be using a variant.

>>so off he went; spent and gasping, and stumbling and sobbing with joy, flying for his life out of the terrible bogs. Then it came over the Moon she would main like to go with him. <<
Jacobs' source was: “Mrs Balfour's 'Legends of the Lincolnshire Cars' in Folk-Lore, ii, somewhat abridged and the dialect removed. The story was derived from a little girl named Bratton, who declared she had heard it from her 'grannie'. Mrs Balfour thinks the girl's own weird imagination had much to do with framing the detail" 
Theme parallels the “buried sun” described at page 14

81 “shat into the plastic bag” - Kray story from Pearson, The profession of violence?
p.84 Chambers: from Guide to London, the Secret City, Michael Chambers, published by Ocean Books, 1974.
p. 81 Jack Spicer – US poet, exact source not identified.

p. 90 “in breaking traditional ties” - unidentified but probably Eliade, Myth of the Eternal Return, or a related text. Could be Jung's 1959 essay on Flying Saucers.
p. 92 Ixtab as goddess of suicide
source unidentified."Although Ix Tab is not recognized as a deity in Maya scholarship today, her origins can be found in the archaeological knowledge produced by early Mayanists such as Paul Schellhas and In the contributions of ethnohistorians such as Alfred M. Tozzer“.

p.97 “She has to...” Ben Bradlee (of Newsweek) describing Joseph Kennedy post-stroke. In Conversations with Kennedy.

“I met Jack Kennedy in November, 1946.... We went out on a double date and it turned out to be a fair evening for me. I seduced a girl who would have been bored by a diamond as big as the Ritz.”

: Source: character Stephen Rojack, reminiscing in Ch. 1 of An American Dream (1965), novel by N Mailer.

p. 99 “Men are most free...” “Not when they are escaping to some wild west. The most unfree souls go west, and shout of freedom.” ― D.H. Lawrence, Studies in Classic American Literature. (chapter 'spirit of place')

p. 100 Ludvig Prinn - De vermis mysteriis
>>The tome first appeared in Bloch's short story "The Shambler from the Stars" (1935), in which a character reads a passage from the book and accidentally summons an extradimensional horror. <<
So Robert Bloch, working in the world of HP Lovecraft (for a magazine edited by Lovecraft). Title means “On the mysteries of the worm”.

101 from The Gemstone File by Bruce Roberts, a fake conspiracy theory/ secret government text, not now widely regarded as being the key to modern politics. Roberts supposedly invented a kind of synthetic ruby (hence gemstone).

103 Howard Hughes. Source is James Phelan, Hughes the Hidden Years.
p.103 Dorn: Ed Dorn, The whole of the material on Howard Hughes is a tribute to Dorn.

104 "heroin from the golden triangle" – from The Gemstone File: “The dope trade routes are: Golden Triangle to Taiwan to San Francisco. Heroin coming from the Golden Triangle was sometimes smuggled into S.F. in the bodies of American G.I.s who died in battle in Vietnam. One body can hold up to 40 pounds of heroin, crammed in where the guts would be.

Some dope gets pressed into dinner plates, and painted with pretty patterns. One dope bust in S.F. alone yielded $6 billion in heroin "china plates" - the largest dope bust in history - quickly and completely hushed up by the S.F. press Mafia. The dope sat in the S.F.P.D. for a while, then was removed by FBI men, and probably sent on its way - to American veins.
All this dope processing and shipping is controlled and supervised by the Mafia, for the Mafia. Dope arrests and murders are aimed at independent pushers and maverick peddlers and smugglers who are competing with, or holding out on, the Mafia. While Nixon was conducting his noisy campaign against dope smuggling across the Mexican border, his dope officer in charge of protecting the Mafia dope trade was E. Howard Hunt.

Lots of heroin gets process in a Pepsi Cola factory in Laos.”
The Skeleton Key is attributed to Stephanie Caruana “then a contributing editor at Playgirl magazine. “

p.105 “Relieving himself...” - James Phelan
109 Philostratus from the Life of Apollonius of Tyana, a wonder-worker. Also at p.38
109 'those long vistas sacred catacombs where mighty minds'...
'darkness before and dangers voice behind'
- from The Prelude Book 3
our blind Poet, who in his later day,
single; uttering odious truth--
and danger's voice behind,
the earth has ever lodged
thirst of living praise,
for the glorious Dead, the sight
long vistas, sacred catacombs,
'minds' lie visibly entombed,
stirred the heart of youth, and bred            
love of rigorous discipline.--
high emotion touched not me.
Also Book Three.
111 'looking forth by light' also The Prelude
small quotes probably also The Prelude
“punish thee in thy members “– not identified
 felt Incumbencies
awful, visitings Of
Upholder of the tranquil soul, ... 
more Prelude
p.112 'an ear that could measure' :
from Milton, Apology for Smectymnuus. “"For this good hap I had from a carefull education to be inur'd and season'd
betimes with the best and elegantest authors of the teamed tongues, and thereto brought an eare
that could measure a just cadence, and scan without articulating; rather nice and humorous in what was tolerable, then patient to read
every drawling versifier.”

p. 112 "stylistic situation on the world periphery": unidentified 

114 “a small chamber hung with dusty green”:
Anthony Wood, Athenae Oxonienses – as Wood thought that Milton had been given an MA by Oxford. he cites a certain Richardson:"An ancient clergyman of Dorsetshire
(Dr. Wright) found John Milton in a small chamber hung with rusty green,
sitting in an elbow chair, and dressed neatly in black, pale but not cadaverous,
his hands and fingers gouty and with chalk stones."
p.119 “Holmes at Caius” Unidentified. Says freshman so must be an American writer.

119 “ devildom first poetising afterwards”:
The book is Goblin Tales of Lancashire, Author:James Bowker, and the tale is THE
'Jeremiah,' said this personage, 'devildom first and poetising afterwards.' There was an unpleasant tone of banter in this speech, which did not seem in ...'

This contains a concealed joke: “In a little lane leading from the town of Clitheroe there once lived a noted ‘cunning man’ to whom all sorts of applications were made, not only by the residents, but also by people from distant places, for the fame of the wizard had spread over the whole country side. If a theft was committed, at once the services of 'Owd Jeremy' were enlisted”
- the tale is about the Devil and a 'cunning man' named Jeremy. The Devil asks for his soul but offers in return “'Twenty-two years of such success as thou hast not even dared to dream of! No opposition--no exposure to thy miserable dupes’ readily answered Satan.” This is a mythical account of the ascent of Prynne.
120 Pennick, Mysteries : from The mysteries of King's College Chapel, by Nigel Pennick
(Wellingborough : Thorsons, 1978) The link between Gothic architecture and DNA is already made by Janet and Colin Bord, Mysteries of Britain, p.149 "A vertical line of lozenge shapes with their points touching is a symbol of etheric energy, and has been likened to the double helix of the DNA molecule, a basic carrier for subtle life energies." This in Durham cathedral. 

120: peiste. This is an Irish Gaelic word meaning “beast”, usually a monster, Latin bestia. But in Modern Gaelic it just means “worm” and this is the sense here because it runs “worm drives down into the buried mystery/ fenland peiste”.

p.120 "From out his secret Altar toucht with hallow'd fire". The Hymn. I. It was the Winter wilde, While the Heav'n-born-childe, [ 30 ] All meanly wrapt in the rude manger ... the phrase appears in “On the morning of christs nativity” but the full quote is in so it's The Reason of Church Government, Book 2:
>> "not to be raised from the heat of youth, or the vapours of wine, like that which flows at waste from the pea of some vulgar amourist or the trencher-fury of a rhyming parasite - nor to be obtained by invocation of Dame Memory and her siren daughter, but by devout prayer to that Eternal Spirit who can enrich with all utterance and knowledge, and sends out his seraphim, with the hallowed fire of his altar, to touch and purify the lips of whom he pleases." 

121 'Land's end... Crows an Wra'... a Ley line
122 "The Vegetative Universe, opens like a flower from the Earths center:
In which is Eternity. It expands in Stars to the Mundane Shell"
- Blake, 'Milton'
p. 123 “Plain called Ease”: Then CHRISTIAN and HOPEFUL, outwent them again, and went till they came at a delicate plain, called Ease, where they went with much content; but that plain . - Pilgrim's progress
127 “beware” - quote from Prynne lecture as credited.
p. 128 Had & hands: "Who mourned in earnest, when the captive ark /Maimed his brute image, head and hands lopt off, In his own temple..." Paradise Lost, book 1, referring to Dagon, the fish god. Dagon also starred in some HP Lovecraft stories. In PL, the Ark destroyed the idol of Dagon when it was placed in Dagon's temple
p 131 “First Reggie...” Kray story, maybe John Pearson again?
p.133 shabti: tomb servant for a dead person (Egyptian)
137 Bladud: cf. Geoffrey of Monmouth

"before I was..." one of the Taliesin poems? in the Llyfr Taliesin. 
“I have been a multitude of shapes,
Before I assumed a consistent form” - one version of lines in Cad Godeu. 
Bum y lliaws rith/ cyn bum disgyfrith. This does not mean “I was everywhere” but it may be behind Sinclair's text. Oh well. (= I was a host of shapes/ before I was dissolved)

139 “Chief ensign of druids was a ring”
from John Wood the Elder A Description of Bath, 1765

This was the reason for designing a Circus in Bath – echoes ring of stones, Stonehenge.

>>First though must come the story of Bladud, the founding father of Bath, an exiled prince because of his leprosy, whilst out herding pigs one day happened to notice that the pigs loved to roll in the hot muds of the spring. Bladud also tried this and was cured, and then went on to found the city of Bath on the spot. Our mythical King Bladud is given a date of 480 BC, and as Wood saw it Bladud created the city about the size of Babylon. Bladud was a descendant of a Trojan prince, a high priest of Apollo and a ‘Master of Pythagoras’. Therefore this high priest was a devotee of the heliocentric systems of the planets from which the Pythagorean system was derived. That the Works of Stantondriu (Stanton Drew) form a perfect model of the Pythagorean system of the planetary world<<
So Wood was a pioneer pyramidiot.

p. 139 "as big as god but not so wicked" - unidentified
140 “I copulated with my fist” – Rundle Clark, p.44, source not very clear. But it may be Coffin texts, vol 3, 334j. Edited A de Buck (Chicago, 1939)

"venomous vegetables": Some commendably affected plantations of venomous vegetables, some confined their delights unto single plants, and Cato seemed to dote upon cabbage 
-Sir Thomas Browne, the Epistle Dedicatory to The Garden of Cyrus

141 “passion to face the west” :   D H Lawrence, letter to Gordon Campbell 20/12/1914

143 fetherham:
John Hardyng, Chronicle (1470 version). An obscure text but presumably quoted by some author on the Bladud legend. Fetherham is a cloak of feathers or pair of wings. Hardyng says the Temple Apolyne is now St Paul's.

145 “cave of the Pythian God”: the temple of Apollo, again, but this time in Delphi. Presumably Wood's Description of Bath.

>>However according to Pausanias, Pteras, the founder of the second temple of Apollo at Delphi, gave its name to the city.<<

>>They say that the most ancient temple of Apollo was made of laurel, the branches of which were brought from the laurel in Tempe. This temple must have had the form of a hut. The Delphians say that the second temple was made by bees from bees-wax and feathers, and that it was sent to the Hyperboreans by Apollo. [10] Another story is current, that the temple was set up by a Delphian, whose name was Pteras, and so the temple received its name from the builder. After this Pteras, so they say, the city in Crete was named, with the addition of a letter, Apterei. The story that the temple was built of the fern (pteris ) that grows on the mountains, by interweaving fresh stalks of it, I do not accept at all. [ << - shortened quote from Pausanias
we get a lot about bees, ants, and flies in this book 

146 “curve line”:
unidentified but sounds like a ley writer. Camulodunum is Colchester.

148 EF Stringer: >>star people (also known as starseeds) is a New Age belief and fringe theory. Introduced  by Brad Steiger in his 1976 book "Gods of Aquarius", it argues that people originated  as extraterrestrials and arrived on Earth through birth or as a walk-in to an existing human body. It is a variant of the belief in alien-human hybrids. The term "star people" was taken from an existing Native American spiritual concept.<<

I could not locate an EF Stringer.

149 “contour values...”
unidentified but it describes a graphic representation of anomalous magnetic force readings. Earth magnetism is mentioned in SB so this could (wild guess) be a text on magnetic anomalies from Flying Saucer Review (ed. Charles Bowen). Flying saucers used “magnetic propulsion” in Ray Harryhausen's 1956 film “Earth vs. The Flying Saucers”.

151 “degradation destruction revocation infamy”
>>A disdainful man looks after two retreating and dejected figures. Their swords lie upon the ground. He carries two others on his left shoulder, and a third sword is in his right hand, point to earth. He is the master in possession of the field. Divinatory Meanings: Degradation, destruction, revocation, infamy, dishonour, loss, with the variants and analogues of these. Reversed: The same; burial and obsequies. <<
commentary on the 5 of Swords from a text on Tarot, probably AE Waite? >>The following year, a small guide by A.E. Waite entitled The Key to the Tarot was bundled with the cards, providing an overview of the traditions and history behind the cards, texts about interpretations, and extensive descriptions of their symbols.  << - so 1911

153 “do not allow even an insect”
- unidentified (but an alchemist)

155 Namagiri:
from a Penguin hist of maths, check source (Hollingdale, makers of mathematics?)
The quote relates to Srinivasa Ramanujan 1887-1920
155 'Enemy of the Stars" 1914 Vorticist drama by Wyndham Lewis

156 tags are from HP Lovecraft

158 maths-insects
-from the same Penguin book?

159 “burst death's membrane through”
- Wyndham Lewis
165 “worthwhile to destroy myself”

169 “Magic Door”
poem by Chris Torrance

170 “dead go the way of the sun”

170 vaginal vibrations
about prophecy, possibly Crowleyite

172 “west is the body”
172 "the snake path": the paths along the side of Glastonbury Tor were seen as the trail of a coiled dragon (by John Michell) and as the route of an initiatory maze-path by Geoffrey Russell (put into print by Geoffrey Ashe). >>According to a theory put forward by Geoffrey Russell, they are the principal remains of a maze: not in the sense of a puzzle, but in the sense of a long, twisting, devious approach to a centre - a labyrinth. Made in the remote past for ritual purposes, it spirals round the Tor seven times, and ends - or may be supposed to end - at the summit where the tower now stands.
It is argued further that the spiral is not a simple one, but a three-dimensional adaptation of a more complex pattern which is found in antiquity and in widely separated places<<  (accessed from As he linked it back to a sacred mountain equivalent to Mount Meru. Anyway, this is a hill at Glastonbury. Was it made by a sleeping dragon cuddling up? no.

177 “enjoyed the process of temptation”:
unidentified biography of John Cowper Powys

182 “Oppenheimer tasting sin”
unidentified but O is more likely to have said 'The physicists have known sin, and this is a knowledge they cannot lose.'' not clear he said this.
183 "limestone tape" - latent pointer to "The Stone Tape", 1972 TV play by Nigel Kneale, in which the stones of a house contain a "tape" of events they had seen 

187 “ghost of a flea”: John Varley (1778-1842)
painter and friend of Blake. This quote is from a book on the zodiac.

188 Botches:
it is the plagues of Egypt, source text unidentified

“Botches and blains must all his flesh imboss.” -Milton
189 “bathing suits”

193 “a country surrounded by water” - unidentified but is Britain seen from the point of view of an Amerindian.

194 Sign of the Angel, Lacock – this is a pub rather than a book. Lacock is a village near 

Bath. The pub building is 15th century. It is said to have a ghost. >>The inn is said to be 

haunted by the ghost of an elderly woman, who has been frequently seen over the past 15 

years or so. She is believed to be one of the previous owners who just refuses to leave. A 

friendly soul by all accounts, who has been spotted several times by staff and diners 

patiently sitting at one of the tables in the lounge bar. <<
196 “Maldoror”
book by Lautreamont

196 'highest form of criticism':

 "The highest as the lowest form of criticism is a mode of autobiography. Those who find ugly meanings in beautiful things are corrupt without being charming. This is a fault.”

Wilde, preface to Dorian Gray

list of component books

punk vortex x file
the older hidden powers; the secret minds 
brerton, the darkness
bowen, his journey

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Crime stories

Very satisfied because an order of books has arrived after 5 weeks. I ordered two books about criminal cases by a prominent East German lawyer, Friedrich Karl Kaul (1905-81). These cost 1 Euro each I think, which is why the order was slow.

Kaul is discussed in a history of East German literature which I have been consulting.
It is a platitude that the best writers, in dictatorships, are dissidents. Any bright 13 year old knows this. But if you assume it to be true, you never read writers who are not dissidents. In this way you could miss the fact that it is only, say, 80% true. Also, opposition writers are often banned in the country they are writing about. This means that the reading matter in that society is quite different. I want to read Kaul because I want to get at something more typical of East German daily experience. If you read some writer who is published by a West German publisher, who is being read by people in the West, who is getting reviews and prizes mainly from literati in the “capitalist zone”, they adapt to that milieu. A writer whose only goal is to be read in the communist republic, and perhaps in some of the “fraternal republics”, is a better source than one with wider contacts.

I got into this because I was reading a 1925 book by Egon Erwin Kisch, in an East German reprint. Kisch was a reporter who wrote only reportage, and so was one of the bases of East German literature. He died in 1948. Obviously the DDR in the 1950s was a rerun of the Weimar Republic with the nationalists having their microphone unplugged. Kisch was the perfect writer. That's the problem with the literature of the Democratic Republic – that core of perfection which you can never enjoy, like a core of ice in the ice cream which will never melt. So many writers saying, virtually, “this idea was great when it was first used 50 years ago, so I will be great if I use it”.

If you scour the second-hand listings on the internet, you find that Welsh books stuck in English bookshops are often incredibly cheap. East German books, especially non-dissident ones, are equally cheap. Since I have no money these are two fields I am penetrating in depth. In both cases the appeal is of learning about an alien society from the inside and I want books that speak to the small society and not to a wider world. Also, reading a bad book from a society can be more revealing than reading classics all the time. Certainly true for Wales. I had a wish, at some point (2010?) to uncover trivial culture from Germany. This was due to a question about the prevalence of American culture as "mass consumption”, the point about American movies and TV was obvious but the other question about how far a native “pulp” existed and what constituted its appeal was more elusive. German pulp would essentially not be exported, it would be missing from the libraries I used in London, which were founded on a notion of “seriousness”. I didn't get very far with this although I did get to watch some German Edgar Wallace films.

If you follow simple wishes, you end up reading 9 dissident writers for every one who was regimetreu, loyal to the regime. But in fact the East German regime lasted 40 years, the Soviet regime lasted 70 years. So the idea that the story is all about them falling apart is flawed.

Kaul had nothing literary about him but was very concerned to tell the truth. In a 1959 book (Kleiner Weimarer Pitaval) he quotes the original writer of true crime, Pitaval, as saying that truth is the most important thing. “Peculiar and astounding events, which move us in novels, in these works of the imagination, can because of their untruth awake no founded pleasure in us ... But when the true and the amazing are combined, then our reason and our heart enjoy a pure and true pleasure.” This was in 1736. So that is the model for East German literature, in 1736. Kisch wrote a book called Prager Pitaval about crime in Prague. I used to have a copy of this, God knows how that ended up in London. Kaul must have read this book.

Communist society was based on crime. By the government, that is. I don't expect to find very much in Kaul about crime inside East Germany. You just know it's all going to be about crime in West Germany, maybe in Britain (the home of detective mysteries), crime in the Third Reich, crime by Americans in Europe, crime in the Weimar Republic. In fact he wrote a 3-volume Weimar Pitaval in the 1950s. That says so much about the Fifties in the DDR, that people were reliving the Weimar Republic, in this case alongside the right-wing judges and lawyers who had put communists in prison for talking and set Nazi murderers free because they were patriots. So in 1955 you re-enact the trials but with the result coming out differently.

Kaul writes a 70-page account of a corruption and bankruptcy trial in 1929. I suppose it's not literature but it is very interesting. He was obviously a communist sympathiser as a young man and spent time in Lichtenburg and Dachau concentration camps around 1935. This is why he spent the 50s reliving the injustice of the past. He was also half-Jewish. Anyway, he got out, first to Colombia and then to Central America.

The big story in Russia is the alliance between the Party and the gangsters, which was growing even in the Sixties and came to run the country after the breakup of the Soviet Union. So true crime is the key to everything, even if loyal writers never mentioned it. I am not sure that there was any corruption in East Germany, they didn't have a Mafia and they didn't really have dissidents. But as for truth, clearly Kaul wasn’t willing to tell the truth about the society he lived in. Truth started at the border, more or less.

Refuge areas and English nationalism

This is a posting about resentment and refuge areas, in the wake of the EU referendum and the election of Donald Trump.

The poetry world is most visible when it carries out acts of validation, such as awarding prizes and releasing books in prestige series. These acts are claims of homogeneity and indeed poets all want homogeneous applause. However, a significant component of the scene viewed in the round is resentment. This is one of the major energy flows and it needs to be brought to light.

One form of the lingering resentment is ethnically defined. It's aboot time we listened tae naebodie but oorsels. TS Law said. Mentioning this raises the possibility of an English Nationalist programme for poetry. This seems structurally implied in a game where ethnically defined blocs are saying listen to naebodie but oorsels, but it remains a white space on the board. It faces structural difficulties- on the level of someone saying that they won't eat spaghetti or hamburger because they aren’t English. In parallel, it seems that someone who would commit to such a programme would reject all poetry since 1960. That is, this category of people may actually exist, in numbers, but they are structurally removed from the game because they refuse to play it. This would point to the origin of the poetry scene as a self-selected group, dominated by empathy which leads to convergence. The more they converge, through shared experiences, the more they differ from the outside world. We may speculate that even though poetry is subjective, if a number of people read the same 300 books they converge, so that their subjective reactions come to resemble each other. In fact, the wish of the poet was to communicate, and this always mitigated the purely subjective element. The domination of the poetry world by the people who actually want to take part in it disguises an untested fact, namely that the scene could alternatively be run by quite different groups who would then lead it down a new path – so that the empathetic/liberal tendency would have to leave. So perhaps very different outcomes were possible.

English nationalism would take the form of denying the right of the people in the poetry world to own poetry. This is a thought experiment. It is likely that the actual state of poetry is the product of all its preceding states. Nationalism was extremely important in poetry in the era of Newbolt and Noyes, but there was a strong reaction against it in the Twenties – the reaction against the military ideas of the First World War, in fact. Being incorporated into the poetry world has meant, since that point, taking on unstated assumptions (about the desirability of war, the condition of the State as an emotional object rather than a business one, about asking questions, and about submerging in a collective), which were not compatible with nationalism.

One fruit of the uprising of 1968 has certainly been to critique individual judgement, the individual experience of art as a source of knowledge and pleasure. I think there is a refuge idea where art consumers faced with the critique of judgement which has continued to take place get irritated and disengage and take refuge in a narrower world. Here, the refusal to extend is a vision of authenticity. They find a comfort zone of pleasure while ignoring the critique and the rather long-drawn-out arguments which have accompanied it. This seems like a retreat to me. Back into the Balkan hill ranges and a tribal sense of homogeneity. I am not sure that criticism ought to be annoying and humiliating. There is a whole line of Marxist-oriented cultural critique which is designed to humiliate people – in the style of John Berger. Your experience is invalid, he is saying, because you are invalid people. This may not be backed up by evidence.

I was very impressed with Goodwin and Ford's book about the rise of UKIP (Revolt on the Right), because at each point they pass on assailing UKIP's dud ideas in favour of saying that the energy of the system as a whole is running down because politicians are ignoring what the electorate are thinking about and saying. The key thing is the decline of Labour and the Conservatives, not the rise of UKIP which wins votes without winning elections. I think the managers of poetry need to learn from populist hostility.

The poetic equivalent of UKIP and Donald Trump is Bloodaxe Books. The critique of the intelligentsia. Of sophistication, of ideas of modernity. The resentment against an elite who dominate the discourse and are super-articulate, the rationalisation that the elite represent a consensus and are fastened by self-regard. We have been dealing with this since the end of the 70s. Actually Bloodaxe is not English nationalist. I should emphasise that this resentment is expressed in the jacket texts, a fugitive genre which is not subject to scrutiny and not expected to be responsible and proportionate. Its texts may not be visible in retrospect, they vanish. They are anonymous. But they are read a lot by possible shoppers. This matches up with political campaigns via Twitter and the Internet, the digital post-truth realm. This attitude is not written up in any book (a book about modern poetry by the head of Bloodaxe was announced in the Bloodaxe catalogue but never appeared). Like UKIP, this line of opinion did contain a lesson for the intelligent and credible. I have certainly thought about it a lot. Populist books of poetry were selling in thousands while modernist-style works were selling 200 or 300. 95% of the potential audience are scared of anything difficult.

I don’t think those jacket texts ever named the people they were attacking. They didn't distinguish between the academic taste of the 1950s and the modernist/Leftist poets of the 60s and 70s. They just had a stereotype of “intellectual – smug – inhibited – not entertaining”. Evidently many real books acted out that stereotype.

The poetry world is a small self-selected group. This is worth thinking through. Evidently, people who never read any poetry are less qualified to make generalisations about poetry than people who read it all the time. This is a question of sovereignty, almost. Of the right to make judgements. The established “poetry elite” falls into several groups. Evidently there is a group f managers whose working assets include the rejection of modernism and of the critique of the self (roughly) which has developed since 1968. The populist thing involves a dual rejection: first, of the Oxford line of poetry for being too narcissistic, too smug, too sheltered from life's problems, too conservative in social attitudes. Then, quite separately, the attack on an elite of left-wing intellectuals, for not delivering credible accounts of lived experience and for being too esoteric in linguistic means. You can attack both groups at once. (It is characteristic of a populist resentment that it ignores differences between various sectors which it wants to attack.)

Because of the history of the scene, the populist resentful group is on the Left and is educated. It is rather that they are less educated than the hyperliterate, and are Left in a less abstract way than the readers of philosophy. This is quite unlike the UKIP vs Westminster polemic. You have to have sympathy for someone who is reeling out of the cinema not having understood the film. People encountered poetry at school – if there were people who read a Shakespeare sonnet and really didn't understand it, they were labelled as not the A-stream by the teachers. Schools have a programme to follow, but it is unconscionable for the poetry world to go on casting them as the C-stream. If someone is labelled as 37th out of a field of 45 in an exam, it is quite likely that they will mentally define the 36 who were more intelligent than them as inauthentic and lost in abstraction. This sounds childish, but as I was saying adult behaviour in culture recycles attitudes acquired while at school. If you see attacks on poets with Oxbridge educations, poets with knowledge of Continental culture, poets who have read literary theory, we are seeing a “refugium” mentality, parallel to UKIP's attack on career politicians. You have to admit that some people are reading new-style poetry and they just don't get it, the dots don't resolve into a pattern. The scene shouldn’t just be built around academic stars if they are very few in number.

If you get into the critique of everyday life, including consciousness, you can lose the sense of life being lived and offer the reader nothing to identify with. That is the very thing they want, so giving it away is quite a radical step. This may be what people mean when they talk about “abstraction”. I think that what the wider market wants is a poet with greater sensitivity than most people, and then poetry which has contained time. If poetry is an argument, if the compassion of the poet stops being visible because of the critique they are carrying out, the appeal is not there any more. If you are criticising the process of consciousness, you end up with zero contained time. There is nothing to identify with. Meanwhile you can reach a larger market by presenting a poet who embodies compassion and the feel of “lived time” even if they are unoriginal and evidently mediocre at key points.
Obviously I regard the people who like my poetry as the most legitimate critics. But there is a circularity built into this. Suppose you have an elite which enjoys minority support. Meanwhile its legitimacy is challenged by broad if disorganised groups which are pushed by resentment. This means you could redefine them as not being an elite. As a thought experiment, we could say, let us define a hundred different factions as being failed elites. How do we decide which one is the least failed? What I am saying is that if you only have 50 fans there is a problem in you defining those fans as the most authorised to authorise because the whole process of legitimation is in question.

I don't think the populist hostility amounts to a new elite group. This is because its means of presenting ideas, in jacket texts and so on, are so shallow and unaccountable. The ideas cannot be argued at length because they are too flawed and too reliant on negative stereotypes which fall into shreds when the evidence is assembled. They exist as smears, scurrilous insults, stereotypes, folklore, dark flashes of emotion, and if they were not like that they would not be populist.

Who are the elite? One segment little considered is the stockists, the people who choose the stock of bookshops. They are nameless so their biographies are not part of the cultural memory. However, it may be they influence the course of literature more than anyone else. The flow of reviews and so on may be at a remove from the book trade, and not especially influential on sales. A critic might be influential by affecting what the stockists do – influence is always conditional on being listened to.

I have reached a halt without talking about refuge areas which ignore the existence of feminism or of immigrant groups (and critiques of the British). I think similar conditions apply – the resentment is never articulated and so is hard to critique intelligently. Similar emotions are probably in play – people don't want to enter the poetry section in order to be made to feel guilty and to be told that the position they hold will have to be given up and they will be evicted. They probably want to hear the reverse, actually. They may want a refuge area, a refugium, from those feelings. They are resentful of an elite which bases its legitimacy on inflicting those feelings on people. But actually – being pro-feminist and pro-immigrant really are qualities which qualify you to apply for a post as culture officer, qualities too which justify the system and protect it from legitimacy and energy leaking slowly away.

Postscript. There has been a General Election since I wrote this, at which UKIP's share of the vote went down from 12.9% to 1.8%. They look like a burnt-out match. Things are changing very fast in British politics. Does that mean the populist thing can be forgotten? hardly so. The anti-immigration vote has just found other outlets. With poetry, you always have to think about why the huge new educated audience mostly ignore poetry. The people in charge are still short of legitimacy.