Great Connections: Rap, Poetry, And Classics

Copyright © by Alex Sheremet, 6/15/08


  Yes, most listeners don’t read hip-hop journalism, or at all for that matter. Serious and intelligent fans, too, might avoid books and cultivate few significant interests. Still, there is something remarkable about the latter: they have great artistic sense, and are often far more discriminating in creative matters than many educated non-listeners. Contrast, for example, the bizarre “intellectual” discussions of undeniably bad poems with the precise criticism on Alternative Hip-Hop forums. Here, there are no experts, and no valid credentials — arguments suffice, and the debates are mostly evaluative, rarely abstract or philosophical. No one pats another on the back, especially if we’re on a competitive site with good amateur rappers and a cutthroat atmosphere. Rappers throw their tracks down, anticipating a competitor’s moves: lines, intonations, and great retorts. A decision comes — a vote for the best track, with an analysis of the competitors’ lines and techniques by each voter.

  Think about this for a second. It almost seems warped if we compare it to the “subjective” treatment of poetry. In poetry, almost everyone — no matter how bad — is a decorated winner, and objective judgment is thought impossible, or, more likely, unpalatable — published poets just don’t disturb each other. In hip-hop, disturbance is key. It’s rare to find an artist without some lyrical feud, either ongoing or in the past. In fact, most of these feuds have even been covered in a series of DVD’s devoted to the spectacle. Rappers comment on each other’s work in funny and exaggerated ways, although honesty is often most destructive (if well-writ), as in Eminem’s response to Benzino’s claim that white people shouldn’t be in hip-hop:


I don’t know shit about no shoppin’ rocks,

But what you know about hip-hop shops, rockin’ spots?

When you’re the only white boy in that bitch, just rippin’

Pressin’ up your own flyers and your stickers, stickin’

Them bitches up, after spendin’ six hours at Kinko’s

Just makin’ copies of your covers of casette singles,

And sellin’ them out the trunk of your Tracer,

Spendin’ your whole paycheck at the Disc Makers?


What you know about bein’ bullied over half your life?

Oh, that’s right, you know what that’s like — you’re half white!


  This is unthinkable in poetry — the motives are different, and poetry rarely has a competitive edge. “Mature people,” it’s said, “don’t make sly jabs at each other, but have civil discussions.” Sure, but with two qualifications: 1) some people deserve, or creatively need the jabs to stimulate their own work; 2) in art, you’re essentially a competitor — if you’re not a good poet and don’t care to improve, you might as well quit writing unless it’s self-amusement. The market is already packed, and most of the product is gratuitous. On the other hand, rap is the only substantial self-made (and self-directed) culture for many, with room for distinction, especially for creative people. Thus, one of rap’s main ideas is self-improvement, or honing the talent — fans have already established that hip-hop can be judged objectively, and are quite willing to dispense the criticism. In poetry, sloppiness does little to stop a writer’s growing fame in an anything-goes atmosphere. In hip-hop, laze can kill an underground career before the first album drops. No circular, philosophical justification for a poor line or a bad verse can satisfy these hardened critics — they like the real, tangible stuff, the physical manifestation of good art.

  Still, even those with greater opportunities (art school, money, a full scholarship to NYU) are drawn to hip-hop’s competitive spirit, and participate from a purely creative impulse. Although hip-hop offers something poetry does not, it’s not necessarily the creative offering that’s different — in fact, the creative satisfaction is similar, if not identical, in both arts. Perhaps the difference is the demographic. In some ways, rap is for the young, or, rather, that’s when an interest sparks. It’s perfectly natural: hip-hop is accessible, and appeals to the teenager’s ego. Not only does rap offer that creative and competitive outlet, but also caters, in sophisticated ways, to young people’s need to be around others. All the while, it chips and grinds out a strong artistic sense. Consider the intense social appeal: a chance to connect, to find passionate and talented people, to feel a tangible improvement, a concrete goal — in short, to melt some youth and inexperience drop by drop into a living memory, perhaps, of time well spent.

  This is stuff that’s remembered, that’s always linked to youth in great, substantial ways. And although I’ve always had a different creative outlet, being around such enthusiasm is like being involved in a great communal project: all, as consumers, as producers, as people whose memories — school, romance, friends — are inevitably shaped and colored by hip-hop, are affected, and have a real stake in its direction and success. And this isn’t mere insubstantial nostalgia, just an innate peculiarity of a rather social art. Indeed, it’s talent that matters — it shades the above experiences and throws them in a more enjoyable, sophisticated context. As a similar-minded fan nods or laughs at a line, or listens, with color and concentration, juggling the nuances we both worked and grew to understand, I feel — like when I write an excellent poem, or pause for a fine phrase, like James Emanuel:


I meditate right off the page.

Quick memory and pleasing rage

And soothing slide of conscious mind

Move to the brink, and there I find

A meaning more than what you meant

Gleaming in a corner bent

Right out of flooring that you laid

For stud and joist you never made.

The corner turns and comes to me,

Then something fits, and I am free

To lift my finger off the line

That you have made completely mine.


  — at the height of feeling, even when it’s over: to bask in the afterglow of a concluded couplet or a spectacular verse is one of the best parts of rap. Perhaps only Pitchfork Media (that is, on the “educated” end of the critical spectrum) would extensively comment on the “scatological” (their word) content of a bad Lil’ Wayne line, or meticulously speculate on the effect of a deepening weed habit on his lyrics, while ignoring precisely what matters: the distinction between good and bad, talent and non-talent.

  To be fair, these recent three-pronged indiscretions are not always typical, but I suspect a real trend: like in poetry, the further the critic moves from hip-hop’s bottom-line, from hip-hop’s tangible manifestations of quality, the worse the criticism. (This is not always the case, just an inclination. It appears the above is not an exception.) Still, the paradox has only been partly addressed: why does a casual perusal of an Internet hip-hop discussion often reveal more about art and artistic discrimination than a page from an academic journal?

  As noted, the typical artistic interest of a serious hip-hop fan is quite different from the intellectual interests of some literary critics. One — thanks to its competitive, blue-collar roots and concerns — is tangible (always a good sign!), and deals with details essential to the art, to the bottom line, and the other, too often, is a peculiar collection of critical novelties, rarely evaluative or truly critical. Moreover, there is a great continuity from hip-hop to poetry, perhaps a bit broken in some parts, but intact, at least on the the general level, the big ideas — “What is art?”, the classic aphorism, the question that, in the end, reveals elements common to all good creative expression: attention to detail and craft, the avoidance and/or subversion of clichés, wit, originality, and, if appropriate, intellectual substance. Consider them, repeatedly.

  Given the above, it’s not a surprise that hip-hop changed my life, in a couple of ways. First, it opened me up to the nuances of art in a way no other art form could — I was simply uninterested in and incapable of handling anything else then. Rap’s honing of my intuitive artistic sense mattered in the long run. Second, it got me reading. In the Fall of 2003, I just turned sixteen, a junior in high school, and came across Eldridge Cleaver’s “Soul on Ice,” indirectly recommended by Ras Kass’s (excellent) debut album of the same name. Having heard terrible things about both, I read the book long before I listened to the album. The former, while written by an arguably deranged ex-serial rapist, had a few great and poetic insights, and the latter, while strewn with near-racist sentiments and a couple of laughable oddities, was the most lyrically sophisticated rap album at the time (1996), and perhaps even now.

  Perhaps the criticism got me interested. Good, young listeners are often ripe for intellectual stimulation, for new ideas — it’s just a matter of finding the proper material. And despite its obvious deficiencies today, no book has ever moved me as much. Perhaps “Soul on Ice” was simply  appropriate. I was becoming more aware of the world, already used to the grueling political slogans and vague rebelliousness of hip-hop. I needed substance, facts — a bit of a program. The book provided that, concentrating my slight, blunt interests into a sharp point, nudging me to an indefinite direction: ideas, reordered and reevaluated.

  I had a desire to be part of a world beyond my living room. I finished  jotting down Cleaver’s references to things I had no clue about. If the book (like the album, to an extent) is often bad substantively, it’s still great stylistically — one of the best-written political memoirs I’ve ever read, no matter how self-serving (RE: Huey P. Newton’s revelations in “Revolutionary Suicide,” a substantively maturer book) the prose turned out to be. This is one lesson I’ve applied to hip-hop and art in general: there is a difference between a writer’s ideas and their execution, which amounts to the difference between art (or, something approaching art) and creative disaster.

  Rap fans should especially take note of this distinction, as too many rappers — Dead Prez especially comes to mind — consider themselves talented based on subject matter alone. True, the two often overlap, but not necessarily. Consider Dead Prez’s blandness on “Police State”:


I want to be free to live, able to have what I need to live,

Bring the power back to the street, where the people live.

We sick of workin’ for crumbs and fillin’ up the prisons,

Dyin’ over money and relyin’ on religion for help.

We do for self like ants in a colony,

Organize the wealth into a socialist economy:

A way of life based off the common need,

And all my comrades is ready, we just spreadin’ the seed!


  No great images, no memorable lines — just rhetoric. Dead Prez has rarely risen above this kind of sloganeering (“Hip-Hop,” and perhaps two or three other tracks are the only exceptions), sacrificing well-crafted lines for a revolutionary but monotonous salvo. Conversely, the Notorious B.I.G., while often at the height of human ignorance in his raps as well as in his personal life, is an example of a great artist. Again, unsculpted ideas are not art. It takes more than a message to acquire a creative reputation, or at least get a good critic to praise you.

  And although I intuitively understood this, I wasn’t always conscious of it. Coming home from school, I’d throw on hip-hop records every day, absorbing the styles and only eventually making value judgments. This was talent, that was not — these were judgments I grew quite comfortable with, but I didn’t know how to apply them beyond rap. Hip-hop — then — was the final stimulation, the great social glue: I did so much with rap in the background, and couldn’t budge for years. It was hip-hop that spurred the above curiosity, that contextualized my high school experiences. I needed little else, at least for a while. Still, I was quite conscious of the artistic possibilities beyond this small musical niche. So, I explored.

  After I graduated high school in 2005, I took a break from rap. At some point, I was no longer stimulated. But I was curious, in different ways. Sure, I dabbled in spoken-word, or wrote a handful of corny stanzas in 2004, but I wasn’t much of a reader (or writer, even though I had a few original lines) beyond the strictly political and historical stuff. Poetry was quickly becoming my preferred art, thanks to the temporarily incorrigible tastes that befall most young social activists and aspiring bohemians with lots of time and lots of hunger: Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, Henry Miller, and, just years before, their equally insubstantial rap counterparts.

  These all have a couple of things in common: limited talent, and a strong appeal to the countercultural haunts of vegan poetry cafes. Nonetheless, I was lucky — I cut that weird bohemian trance after picking up a copy of, among others’, Countee Cullen’s poems. Yes, Arthur Rimbaud soon lost his strange (and, more importantly, non-existent!) prophetic stare — just another talented poet! Is that the first sign of an incipient maturity — that things lose their holy aura, their cleverly engineered mystique? In short, that things, like Aesop Rock’s breakdown in 2001:


Rise rapidly outta fog I'd never fished in


  and can slowly crystallize beyond that little riddle? I suspect the romantic personality has a place, though; it’s often the best spark, the initial move to a better understanding of the art. Even as you’re older, just handling this great mystique (that is, if a part of you still believes in it somehow) is like a second adolescence: things are new again, things have rules that need to be explored and tested. And rap certainly has its share of romance, too — even more, probably. Its early spark is built around this understanding.

  I also began to notice other things as well. I could have read and re-read Cullen’s “Heritage” dozens of times before, never failing to shudder at some of the greatest lines ever written:


Lord, I fashion dark gods, too,

Daring even to give You

Dark despairing features where,

Crowned with dark rebellious hair,

Patience wavers just so much as

Mortal grief compels, while touches

Quick and hot, of anger, rise

To smitten cheek and weary eyes.

Lord, forgive me if my need

Sometimes shapes a human creed.


  Consider it: the ironic admission against an otherwise “spotless” Christian faith, the suggestive pagan images that just demolish Cullen’s former claims. And that final devastating couplet? It’s virtually conceding what atheists (like me) believe — that religion responds to and is marked by human feeling, not the other way around. Not only is this little stanza technically excellent, it’s intellectually sophisticated as well. That’s difficult. Cullen’s is probably the most intelligent discussion of the clichéd “God is white/black” “debate,” which most rappers haven’t yet learned to let go of or treat maturely.

  Yet repeating those same lines to others is rarely satisfying. Sure, it’s unsurprising now — most people are just too inexperienced to appreciate something well-writ, beyond a customary nod or some indifferent approval. I didn’t realize this until a couple of years ago, probably because I was reading in an insulated way. And the phenomenon is similar in rap. A casual listener could never tell the difference between a Ras Kass and a 50 Cent, much less a non-listener whose only impression is, “well, they’re both talking.” And rap has developed its own self-referential language, — it has a rich system of allusions, vocabulary, and careful intonations that are perpetually inaudible to the inexperienced. This is not hyperbole or mystification, just common sense. Example: As I was waiting for M.I.A.’s show to start last October, I thought about the opening act’s quaint performance. These rappers were imitating Old School hip-hop in obvious ways: short end-stopped lines, regular rhythms, greater stress on the final syllables, and the familiar, aphoristic chants and refrains. (Interestingly, English poetry, to an extent, started out the same way, especially blank verse.) As if to punctuate the gimmick, they quoted Ice Cube:


Fuckin’ with me, ’cause I'm a teenager

With a little bit of gold and a pager —

Searchin’ my car, lookin’ for the product,

Thinkin’ every nigga is sellin’ narcotics!


  Minor details? No, it’s like a modern reader schooled on the short, dull sentences of James Frey opening to Dickens, or the paragraph-lines of Caesar: there’s no way to mistake the three unless you are illiterate.

  Still, hip-hop is not a “literary” creation. Its original source was uneducated vernacular speech, which is all too obvious in early rap. Consider a verse from Grandmaster Flash’s “The Message”:


A child was born, with no state of mind

Blind to the ways of mankind.

God is smiling on you, but he’s frowning too,

‘Cause only God knows what you go through.

You grow in the ghetto, living second rate,

And your eyes will sing a song of deep hate.

The places you play and where you stay

Looks like one great big alley way.

You say, I’m cool, I’m no fool,

But then you wind up dropping out of high school.


  Despite its fame, it hasn’t aged too well, at least lyrically: multiple clichés, technical mediocrity, and nothing that could equal modern hip-hop. This is never admitted, but it’s manifestly true: line-for-line, most early hip-hop is superceded by contemporary stuff. Why? It’s just like in poetry: it takes time for the art to really mature: it needs models, or precedents to play off of. Hip-hop did not have that, at least not at first. But by the early 90s, things changed. Now, rappers had well over a decade of material to absorb and reimagine. The language, far more developed, was ripe for a technical revolution in rhythm, subject matter, and new standards of lyrical excellence. Consider Ras Kass’s unreleased and virtually unknown “Core Audience,” one of the best rap songs ever recorded and unlike anything out at the time:


Violence is the new platinum gimmick:

Call it the double-cross crossover!

A rose by any other name is “Seal”!

You claimin’ you “represent the real niggas’ life,”

But only represent it for a price!

Cuz if next week, the new fad was hip-hop fags,

You'd find a lot of hardcore niggas in draaaaaaaaaag!

I know, it’s a lot of work from “ghetto,”

To “gettin’ mo’ dough,” but silly ass niggas need to know:

Before it makes dollars, it must make.. sense!

I kick my shit for the core audience.


So that’s why I remain anonymous,

Symbolic of cuttin’ out the middle man,

And keepin’ mine autonomous!

I’d rather be major on a Minor,

Than minor on a Major label!

I’m willing and able to put your label

On my choppin’ table!

Recycle black dollars, and not go pop,

And if I flop — at least I stayed true to hip-hop!


  Note the wit, the humor, the wordplay (and the substance!), all amplified by a great and subtle performance. Although rap always had these elements, it took more than a decade to hyperdevelop them before the real creative stuff began to flow. And of course, that’s natural; artists need to coexist with each other’s work, to study the nuances and possibilities of lines and techniques, or simply to mature. Great songs or poems are wrought from this experience.

  Still, rap, just like poetry, has a big problem — its own artists. Or, rather, the artists’ refusal to consciously grapple with the basic questions: clichés, originality, talent, and so on. Good rappers do proclaim their superiority (and usually correctly!) but I suspect this awareness is often quite intuitive, not systematic. Is excellence something tasted from afar, handled delicately, but never truly understood? Not so!, as the above evaluations prove. Still, a rapper typically has a two or three-year shelf life, before his quality deteriorates. Consider Canibus’s lament:


In ’98, niggas thought I was God!

How the fuck did that change?


  Ironically, while this is one of his best post-fall lines, it draws attention to his own ruin. It’s self-inflicted — Canibus jumped from excellent wordplay and battle lyrics (with only the slightest and well-done hints of a scientific style) to pure self-indulgence, losing sight of what matters: well-wrought and concise lines, not outsmarting (if that’s the word; I suspect not) the competition with pointless obscurity. Sure, he still has the occasional substantive point, but spends too much time being a self-proclaimed anomaly. Just check the mudslide to irrelevance (and the lazy recycling of his own rhymes from decade-old material!):


You like Red or White Wine? Let's talk about it, I'm buying.

Let's talk about the children of Zion, excuse me if I start crying.

The Art Of Rhyming? I've mastered it, certainly,

Surely I'll celebrate capturing it for my Taxidermy

From the streets of New Jersey to Germany

To jungles in Angola where most the meat poachers heard of me.

The Ice Truck Killer will be observing me perform surgery.

Ritual Widow Murder - searching for her urgently.

Mix the blood so it don't coagulate,

The sex magic won't work if the bitch masturbates.


  Slightly problematic, no? Note the string of non sequiturs, the epic pretensions — in short, amateur stuff that might fit in the unadulterated newbie sections of online battle boards, but nothing worthy of the original value of his moniker. Just the album cover (“For Whom the Beat Tolls”) gives it all away: a dirty Canibus crawls across the desert towards a lone microphone, with a pyramid behind him. Nota bene: such a self-serious attitude pretty much guarantees artistic failure, especially in hip-hop. And perhaps these delusions are contagious, too: his hardcore fan base is often just as bad as he is, dissecting every corny line and defending it to death. Consider this anonymous little howler  posted in response to a negative and accurate review of the above:


People on [this] level of thinking that is only, earthly, human, and confined by mental slavery will never understand Canibus. He is and always will be the master of word play. He does not conform to the “listenable” type of music people flock to. He will never rhyme for “those people,” the people who refuse to open their minds. Listen and absorb. Most people are too dumb to understand Canibus and they will never, ever understand why people listen [to him]. He rhymes for us, not the masses.


  Self-parody, or is this guy serious? Consider that Canibus often makes the same claims, and often ends up in the same sinking boat — heavy and full of sharp butting rocks, but no sentient passengers. (Still, it’s important to remember that even the weirdest fans debate, no matter how spectacularly wrong they turn out to be. As negative reviews appear, the discussions begin: careful, detailed and passionate analyses nit-pick every word of the review, with substantial evidence cited from the artist himself. It’s amazing to the untrained eye, but this is simply the product of an underground grassroots culture — people fight for it, even if they often fight stupidly. Does poetry have this spirit? Usually, no: a general, dismissive comment is enough, as the hurt connoisseur moves on to the next mediocre poet.)

  And this is typical. I can think of only a handful of artists that are still making great (or even relevant) material a decade or more into their careers. El-P has been excellent since 1994, for example. There’s a reason for this, too — he’s probably the most self-conscious rapper I’ve ever heard. In 2003, he recorded a verse on Aesop Rock’s “We’re Famous,” and made the song completely his, at least in spirit: Aesop Rock’s lines are like a nightmare’s waking afterthought compared to El-P’s grand and sculpted monster:


No gun-talk, no gimmicks, just rounds of raw-dogging

Dirty, dusty intelligent wit, and word murdering:

A hardcore poetic informed without burglary —

Potent and shook the shit out of rappers who just learned of me.


  I first put this on my Zune Player last November so that I’d have something to do while waiting on those long Pathmark lines, but ended up concluding my two-year hip-hop hiatus as I carried home the grocery bags. After two years of focusing on poetry and expanding a bit beyond rap, I was prepared to make some great connections between the arts. El-P magnified them through sheer talent — indeed, no gimmicks, just the bare essentials, dripping wit and self-toppling innovation. I suspect that poets need his arrogant advice:


Every time I prescribe a new pill — revolution!

Quickly defined the standard for indie rap distribution.


  Is innovation incoherent rambling? Is it “post-modernist” poetry? Is that “revolution,” or simply another dead end? You just saw it in hip-hop — sure, Canibus is “different,” but that’s not what counts: talent is final, the last clue to the artistic maze. Canibus: full of energy and strange ideas, but little more than a bad novelty from an exotic locale. Conversely, just check El-P’s style: twisted adverbs, dense metaphors, but always pointing to a tangible direction — a classic example of the sum being better than its parts, although his lines are often quite brilliant individually:


That's why I always get respect from true soldiers

That laugh at the critics claiming every year: “Hip-hop's overrrrr!”

Fuck you! — Hip-hop just started:

It's funny how the most nostalgic cats

Are the ones who were never part of it!


            [Note: isn’t this also true of many failed poets?]


But true veterans'll give dap to those who started it,

Then humbly move the fuck on, and come with that new retarded shit!

New slang, new thought, new sound, new heart,

You thought you hang? — You clown, you don’t: you drown!

I won’t dumb it down, I’m dumbing now for these rounds,

I’m a live mothefucker, plus I’m gunning for clowns;

You’re a mime motherfucker, don’t be coming for pounds

Till you can break out of that invisible box, you're not down!


  It took a rapper to point out the obvious: in many ways, old hip-hop — even, in El-P’s terms, “boom-bap and golden ages” — can never compete with the strength of new material, at least not lyrically. (Another parallel: Shakespeare — we’ve moved past him, haven’t we? I think so.) But, perhaps it’s not strange — El-P is careful, but unafraid to topple his latest innovation. He’s interested in facts, in evaluative judgments, and I can imagine the core of his creative philosophy: Artistic relativism is a myth, and no rapper or poet is qualitatively identical — a simple, tangible concept, but a rare refrain. And the quality of his work follows!

  El-P offers some sound artistic criticism, too. It has wide application, but consider it here: in poetry, Housman declaimed the superiority of Milton over Shakespeare on account of Milton’s classical knowledge — a bizarre criterion, no? It merely betrays Housman’s scholarly bias, not any innate feature of good poetry. At any rate, his claim is wrong on both posits, and El-P can demolish it — albeit indirectly! — in the same song:


My favorite ones are the ones who started out young,

Rappin’ about comic books, spaceships, and Omnicron 1 —

And even though they were soft, they had fun,

But they couldn't break out the frame of the town they came from.


  Note the final line — it’s one of rap’s best little gems, tucked deeply in a long, brilliant, and philosophical verse. It also concisely explains artistic and critical failure, or at least its popular manifestation. A bias, a careless starting point — that is like a “frame of town”: petty, closed-minded, and unwilling to tap into the rich but unfamiliar corners of the universe. In Housman’s case, it’s also an unwillingness to look ahead — he’s stuck fondling Roman statues, on account of an insurmountable personal inclination, an obstacle:


You don’t innovate, because you can’t innovate —

It’s not a choice, despite what you might tell your boys!


  This encouraged Housman to value Greek and Latin classics above what we can learn about poetry through our own (local!) English models (which is a lot, and perhaps even more so — just weigh the sheer bulk of English literary output against the rather sparse extant antiquities!), a romantic but unsustainable position. Still, these problems are more easily avoided if something else is kept in mind — to stick to the tangible, but carefully. It’s strange to consider the infinite artistic sense a person can develop, well-read or not; just look at those hip-hop discussions, especially on the better forums. I suspect the dividing line is care, and some experience. No mystique, no appeals to anything beyond what’s available, or simply there.

  At last, “Classics,” as a discipline, or a hobby — Housman is romantic, but I don’t say this derisively. In fact, I’m in the same healthy loculus — I found hip-hop by its spirit of romance, but grew to appreciate it for its sophistication. I broke those straps, but perhaps it’s true of any art. Certainly, it’s true of poetry and rap: it starts with a strange and temporarily insatiable curiosity, but ends in nuance and deepening maturity. A month ago, I shut my note-gut Ovid, deciding to never crack it open for another five or six years — and paradoxically, it’s like another great artistic project has begun. I realized I’d never understand his nuance, or appreciate, beyond the editor’s marginal notes, his technical skill unless I’d start with the rudiments of Latin, like baby-talk at an artificial mother’s knee. To read reams of children’s prose, or to kill thousands of hours on Latin audio recordings with other frustrated amateurs — didn’t rap, didn’t poetry take the same kind of effort? And program? I suspect artistic experience is a hunt for some kind of transcendental nuance: the reason why people read, and, perhaps more importantly, re-read.

  And I’d too like to fondle Roman statues, but with Midas’ touch, like in rap, or poetry, not Cupid’s sagitta plumbea, like in a foreign, disconnected tongue — in short, to understand, to overcome the babble. No artistic project should be any different.


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