The return of “Aesthetic Tendency and the Politics of Poetry”

25-year-old essay starts over

With technical help from Tom Mandel, I have restored the text of a 6-person collaborative essay by Carla Harryman, Lyn Hejinian, Barrett Watten, Bob Perelman, Ron Silliman, and myself that appeared in Social Text 19/20 in Fall 1988.  We based this version on a scan that Tom made from the journal’s pages, in a copy on which I had 25 years ago inscribed corrections to alterations the editors had made for reasons opaque to me.  One of those alterations was to add a subtitle to our title, calling our statement “A Manifesto.”  This was not our plan.

In working on this over in March 2013, I have consulted not only the journal’s published version with my notes there but also a final or near-final typescript printed from a personal computer earlier, which I once dated in my own hand as “late Sept 87,” to bring the text into conformity with that typescript except on the rare occasions that I noticed an error in agreement or spelling. A lot of details were changed to make the text look and behave the way we had intended it to. I also consulted Barrett Watten’s unpublished letter dated 10 14 1988 to Andrew Ross at Social Text identifying “typos, changes, and other decisions on ‘handling’” the text in publication and a letter dated 05 25 1988 from Barrett to Louis Amdur listing changes that Andrew, Sohnya Sayres, and he had agreed on making in the text.  The May 1988 letter identifies a major source of error as the somehow “mangled condition” in which Louis had received the disc that Barrett had sent to him.  Just how it manifested as “mangled” is left to our imaginations, as the correspondence doesn’t explain this.

Thus I have tried to prepare the most accurate text. A google search yields a variety of website references to this text, and at least three places where it is warehoused and available for download. It is clearly of continuing interest to various persons, who can now find it published in the textual condition intended by the writers.

Download the essay.

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