|I am a fan of Texas because I am a fan of Houston. I spent a little time there, in the pastoral period of my poetic career, my oaten reeds years, and found, to my surprise, that the gun ranges were outnumbered by Cy Twombly pieces. Brilliant food, too, served in plates so big you could curl up and sleep in them after the meal, if that’s the kind of madness that grips you. And the music. And the architecture (in parts). Even the whole Enron corporate sphere had bred a cool, pierced, tattooed counter-culture that zoomed around the appalling roads on skateboards. But Dallas. Dallas, Dallas, Dallas. How do I love thee? Well, not very much. Not the melted cheese that was everywhere. Not the unpeopled streets. Not the drive to the airport.|
But these four SAA things were good:
1. The size of my room. Bigger than Lancashire, easily. The bathroom was a different zip code.
2. Room service. God, what have I been doing all my life? Why cook? Why leave the room? Why leave the bed?
3. The opening night drinks reception in that stunning Renzo Piano sculpture park. Amazing, despite the bar snack of choice seeming to be fried bread.
4. The attempts to explain, respond to, and generally justify the return of authorship as an undeniably pressing (but somewhat worrying) variable in scholarship – principally in the session on ‘Complete Authors?’. Martin Butler talked about the tensions between the priorities of current Jonson editors, and Jonson himself: the current editorial desire to foreground a theatrical context, for example, which Jonson tried to bleed away in 1616; the decision to erase some of Jonson’s less smart revisions (and, therefore, implicitly, to return to a strikingly evaluative model of editing/criticism) – which means restoring, for example, the sleeker, leaner, generally hotter quarto versions of texts like Cynthia’s Revels, bloated into irrelevance in the Folio; the desire to order the Workes chronologically, instead of the pleasing career arc that Jonson made the Workes describe (theatrical texts -> poetry -> court-commissioned work). All of which suggests that while Jonson's reputation as a writer is surely higher than it has been since the c17, as an editor his stock is Bear Stearns low. I liked Gary Taylor’s attempt to replace the author with the ‘worker function’ and, more broadly, his call for an artisanal theory of literary creativity, stressing things made, and working for others. (Or is this one more problematic middle-class appropriation of ‘artisanal’ – like artisanal cheeses, breads, olive oils, the kind of things Berkeley-born people can’t stop talking about.) Eric Rasmussen was a bit shaky on the RSC works, I thought: very funny on the yellow cover, and interesting on the early modern exclusion of collaboratively-authored plays from Works (no Pericles (etc) in Shakespeare (1623); no Eastward Ho! in Marston (1633)). But when asked to pin down the editorial justification for a Folio-based edition (and, in particular, to explain certain anomalies like Two Noble Kinsmen being in the RSC ‘folio’ edition but not the 1623 Works), he didn’t seem to come up with much – unless I missed it, which is quite possible, amid the vast aircraft hangers in which papers took place. One other thing: turns out Ben Jonson’s corpse was buried vertically, head down. Excellent!