Response to Nationalism and Poetry Post

I really enjoyed reading this blog post – Nationalism and Poetry: Thoughts on Pascale Casanova and Adam Zagajewski’s “Poems on Poland” -.

I noticed during the State of the Union the other  week, how frequently the theme of economic nationalism was invoked (bringing jobs back home, rewarding companies who base their manufacturing here, etc.).

And judging from the polls afterwards, it worked — across the political spectrum.  This got me thinking about nationalism in general.  If ideas about “the Nation” strike such a chord, how might they affect aesthetics?

In an essay in the latest New Left Review, literary historian Pascale Casanova argues that feelings about “national identity” are actually a central, if sometimes unconscious, element of literary production.

Here’s what I responded:

Thanks for calling attention to this essay.  I think you bring up an interesting point.

Although there are few American conservative poets, I would say there are plenty in the center.  And if we consider that the entire spectrum shifted right in the United States, perhaps there are some to the right.  (There are definitely plenty of conservative figures in poetry in other countries.)

Also, you might think of multiculturalism as a revision of the “American” search for its own poetics.  If you take Zizek´s suggestion in his essay, ¨Multiculturalism, or The Cultural Logic of Multinational Capitalism¨ seriously, multi-culturalism is actually a conservative concept.

Whether looking inward or outward, from the Cold War up through globalism, power seems to create its own aesthetics.  If you think about it Pound’s poetics were internationalist, but given his essentialist point of view they were inherently conservative.

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