Response to David Antin

Norman Weinstein


There's a story beginning out of Emerson's

lecturing that needs to include the James

gang (William and Henry in that order) & then

William's prize pupil Gertrude

Stein & somewhere off in the distance Charles

Ives is composing his Second String Quartet, the second

movement of which is a roomful of brawling voices debating what is utterly real silenced

in the Quartet's third and final movement

by staring from a hilltop into a perfectly

clear night sky. Now while I'm hinting that the story's

focal points turn literary and psychological

really it's the music of Ives that gives as much story-

space as is consumed thus far. Dewey could have

been riding on the coattails of James (as he

literally did) but that brings to

mind the fact that James accused Dewey of writing

terribly, possessing

"a damned, even a god-damned style"

unusually strong words from the typically genial James who with

held such harshness from Stein

even when she refused to take his Final Exam

& with Stein the only Jew in this bunch

a bridge to the roar of contending voices

in the second movement of the Ives

and "What Happened to Walter" resembling

a Jewish folkloric tale of the same pedigree

as Stein's "Stanzas in Meditation" which surely is philosophical

reverie as are all "talk poems"

but philosophy caught up in bizarre textures of experience

never wholly here or there never complete always in flux as kabbalists

claim all holy writ is-letters going up in flames but never really

extinguished just perpetual flickers, a folk

neurological map of mind on paper

or mind as rustling paper

or contending voices in mind

each claiming authentic experience

which if you read Emerson's lectures you start wondering

which little Ralph Waldo is connecting to which




Emerson was a crowd that gave Whitman permission

to be polyphonic uni


& James picks up Emerson and Whitman

as if they were two young kids hitch

hiking from Idaho back East

& puts them into his sturdy limo

& drives them to the bridge

entering the city

where romantically Sonny Rollins practiced all night but what exact

bridge Rollins made his studio I can't remember

there's something regenerating about Rollins and jazz following in the wake

of the exhaust

of James

that calling "associational play" cheapens so "improvisation"

will do as in "Stanzas in Improvisation"

Stein might abide that

"Stories in Improvisation" better yet

"Storying Mind Improvising" where

"Improvising" belongs to philosophy as psych

ology and literature, not married to jazz per se. Although

when Rollins finally gave a solo concert it was a texture of

"false starts," never fully developed themes, but only jazz critics

carp about "false starts" philosophically every shard of a full melody

was true in being a complete tale

which this is dangerously close to becoming

unless I can remember

which Ives write when: the Second String

Quartet or "The Unanswered


But only music rolling in a mouth

knows what is worth