War. From Tokyo the war with Iraq seems much more distant than the threats and actions of North Korea. Nevertheless, I think that most Japanese people are opposed to the war. It is unfortunate that because of the general apathy of the society here, the views of Japanese rarely enter a world stage. What has shocked me, vis-à-vis the debate on the war is this assumption in some quarters that poetry and art are somehow separable from politics. If you don’t believe me, check out this link: http://opinionjournal.com/la/?id=110003029 I wouldn’t have been surprised to hear this from a politician, or my mother, or any of the chattering classes, but a poet! Someone who reads poetry! I guess the question has to be asked to Mr. Kimball, what art actually relates to, if not the world? Is it a self-referential system, concerned with beauty, form, etc? Is it even a form of self-expression? If so which self are you expressing? The one you wake up to? If you look to Mr. Kimball’s magazine site, you may find some of the answers. They are against “mediocrity” (yes, aren’t we all), and “staunch defender[s] of high culture” (cough). Instead of engaging with these problematic terms, I will understand them as someone who wouldn’t find them problematic. High culture must refer to a Canon, the most recent additions being TS Elliot, Ted Hughes (perhaps), John Betjelman, etc. and can be defined in opposition to, I’m guessing, those who haven’t really contributed to a continuity in the “tradition” of art music, and poetry. Thus, he claims this separation by dismissing the political actions of poets who have entered his exalted chamber. Ah yes, the article makes all the more sense. I wonder if he is aware of how unstable his argument is? Moreover, I wonder if he is aware of the irony of a magazine calling itself “New Criterion” that represents nothing but the old? Now, I will return to real mediocrity..

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