Iain Cameron's Diary
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2004-06-09 - 10:16 a.m.

Ventura Highway yes indeed – I did it once in the other direction. There are those Rosemary and Thyme helicopter shots in the Graduate. I might add about the Malibu section that it was where M Davis had a house towards the end of his life. Then there’s Big Sur where about half of what we take for granted these days was invented. All the way to San Jose.

Our evening soire on globalisation and intermediate level skills went fine. I thought maybe we would suffer from lack of beginner’s luck – but people really seemed to enjoy this second exercise and seemed to be up for more.

Claire Brennan it is who pulls together the secondary sources for students for the Icon Guide to the Poetry of SP. Reading further I see that Prof Rose’s haunting was a decisive marker in the evolution of the scholarship – about ten years ago – and others have developed the opening she made. Thus Anna Tripp in 1994:

“How and what does “I” signify? As a shape on the page it seems ideally suited to stand for the bourgeois individual of liberal humanism…However in relation to this poem this is an impression which conceals a range of divisions, shifts, complexities and resistances.”

This dichotomy can be carried straight over to the ND oeuvre. The most obvious point of departure is all the things the “I” could have been in One of These Things First. The next reference might be “In search of a master in search of a slave”. This comes straight from Hegel’s dialectic of master and slave – which is the base text for rafts of philosophy of identity over the next 150 years. The slave’s identity is more fully formed in serving the master than is the master’s in being served. The lability of identity is also salient in “leaving the things that will make me/you be what I/you don’t want to be”. So identity is strongly dependent of context and the determinants of context may be partly intentional and partly random – especially when one “keeps one’s armour down”.

In reading the songs as the key to the shortness of the life, we succomb to the lure of the “end of romanticism” and project other brief lives forward to provide the outline of the narrative.

Alternatively we might take the sophistication of the readings that have developed over the 40 years since SP’s death and use those techniques to get a more uncomfortable more direct sense from the ND oeuvre – rather than just framing a neatly tragic tale in a rural setting – like late Hardy beautifully rendered in film.

I pulled out a MD this morning which has my setting of the first of The Birhday Letters and also Horn under Water.

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