Title: Content's Dream: Essays 1975-1984
Publisher: Sun & Moon Pr, Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.
Publication Date: 1986
Book Condition: Very Good
Dust Jacket Condition: Very Good
Edition: First Edition
First Edition, cloth, 465 pp., intermittent check marks and underlining, otherwise very good copy, tight binding, dust jacket included. Bookseller Inventory # 023425
Synopsis: First published in 1986, now a classic for all who care about the poetry and poetics of the late twentieth century, Content's Dream is a witty, consummately intelligent, and ever stylish collection of essays by one of the country's most innovative and influential poets, whose work has come to be associated with L-A-N-G-U-A-G-E, the magazine he coedited at the time these essays were being written. Addressing a wide range of arts and ideas, Bernstein moves rapidly from philosophical reflections on Ludwig Wittgenstein and Stanley Cavell, to the film antics of Mad Max and the cinema of Stan Brakhage, from the paintings of Arakawa to the poetics of William Carlos Williams and Robert Creeley, from the modernist poetry of Gertrude Stein, Laura Riding, and Louis Zukofsky to the contemporary poetry of Jackson Mac Low, Lyn Hejinian, and Ron Silliman. Bernstein's essays are poetic enactments rather than abstract theories, embodying in the way they are written the aesthetic values they passionately and eloquently express. While providing an essential introduction to the innovative poetry and poetics of L-A-N-G-U-A-G-E, Bernstein's investigations center on the relation of art to politics and specifically the politics of poetic form. He also explores the conditions, experiences, and alienation of everyday life and the ethical traps of characterization and representation. Bernstein imagines a "thinking" poetry of both process and critique that acknowledges and responds to the intractability and complexity of contemporary cultural and social problems. At once irreverent and politically engaged, as indebted to Groucho Marx as it is to Karl, Content's Dream is essay writing at its most exuberant and profound.
Content's Dream: Essays, 1975-1984 is the celebrated introduction to language poetry by one of its leading practitioners, Charles Bernstein. First published in 1986, and now a classic study of the poetry and poetics of late-twentieth-century America, this collection of essays conducts us with wit, intelligence, and consummate style through the elaborate relations between language and culture. Bernstein considers verbal, pictorial, and filmic language to understand why writing is never the unmediated expression of personal feeling but always charged with latent meaning.
Addressing a wide range of arts, Bernstein's essays move gracefully from discussions of Mad Max, Stan Brakhage, and Arakawa, to William Carlos Williams, Louis Zukovsky and Jackson Mac Low. Rather than propose grand theories, Bernstein synthesizes the many sets of ideas that are necessary for a practical understanding of contemporary culture. Reading a variety of texts and expanding on his own thinking and method, Bernstein provides a brilliant introduction not only to language writing but to all avant-garde literary ambitions of the last two decades of the century.
At once irreverent and deeply serious, as indebted to Groucho Marx as it is to Stanley Cavell, Content's Dream stakes out a clear cultural and aesthetic position for one extraordinary poet, for language poetry, and for our time.
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