History, the Aughts, and the Avant-Garde Pt. 2



Indeed, one occurrence marked by avant-gardism in the Aughts was an unusual and fruitful chiasmus between English and American minds and the methodological approaches they employed; partly owing to the respect younger American artists evinced for the history of English literature, also partly owing to a generalized zeitgeist spirit of quest and aesthetic adventure which meant that English poets, critics, and editors were unusually receptive to the influence of perceived innovations and critical perspectives. It cannot be overstated that the rise of the Internet as a valuable resource and tool for the dissemination of novel aesthetic data marked what may grow to be recognized as the preeminent poetic achievements of the Aughts. While conservative, middle-of-the-road venues floundered, not attempting forced entry into the realm of the digital (and preferred digital vehicles like the blogosphere), both in England and America, the pioneering venues of the Aughts avant-garde took the battles which before the turn of the century could only be fought at odd and comparatively infrequent intervals and made of them daily rites of passage towards critical and creative maturity. It is no accident that the venues mentioned in the first paragraph of this essay were all web-journals; those reluctant to join the web-poetry fray either did not recognize or recognized too late that, by solving heretofore irremediable geographical problems, the Internet had created a kind of fluidity and reception velocity which turned the pursuit of aesthetic goals towards the possibility of profound crescendos and sustained momentum. As futile attempts have been made in the Teens to turn back the clock behind our bold advances, it must also be seen that Internet technologies of maintenance, conservation and preservation have already substantially advanced the sum total of the best Aughts work done in the higher arts, towards stability, permanence, and easy access within the context of both. Understandably and undoubtedly, what we were able to accomplish is fearful and even anathema to improperly and impurely motivated forces around the arts— but their strategic-seeming ignorance, and its disingenuous insistence on totalized novelty and theoretical banality, cannot withstand numbers and other indications which so drastically assert the continued ascendency of the Aughts avant-garde, both on the Net and in print. The Teens salvos against us (both self-acknowledged and willfully ignorant ones) constitute red herrings, put forth as a stop-gap measure towards a resurrection of a time and a context which is permanently gone, and cannot be resurrected.

The history of the Aughts avant-garde is a dynamic one; some flash-points recurred, others fizzled fast. All of us took an interest in the term, coined by an unknown, “post-avant,” designating a mysterious and not agreed-upon form and manner of avant-garde poetry; hundreds of pages, from various sources, were scribed in determined pursuit of what post-avant was. I argued, in a piece published in the Penned in the Margins print anthology “Stress Fractures,” that the pursuit of a workable definition was more interesting than the definitions produced themselves, for a number of different reasons (remember that “Stress Fractures” was UK published and released); because the form and the manner of the discourse around post-avant was a new one (informed by the reception velocity of online interchanges), because the dialectics produced proved that the Aughts were an era of thoughtfulness within collective vision-quests, adventures, and imbroglios; and because (most importantly) in the Aughts, even our errors and fallacies led to solid, reasonable, workable conclusions regarding what was and was not appropriate to expect, from Philadelphia, Chicago, or London, from serious literature and its adjunct disciplines.

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