vrijdag 1 maart 2013

Two editions of EhtnoPoetics' grand grimoire


My copy of "Technicians of the Sacred", the big book of ethnopoetics compiled by Jerome Rothenberg, is the revised and  expanded edition of 1985. I never liked the book: it's big as you expect, but overweight, the font slightly too large, the pages too white and too white-spaced. Not nice to read and the cover is not very appealing either (down right ugly more like!). Now I have purchased a cheap paperback edition in original edition (Anchor 1969). The cover is much better, the pages of better size but it is almost as big physically despite lacking an entire section. There are 522 pages in the first edition against 636 pages in the second. To my pleasant surprise the revised edition offers major changes which means that I am not just owning two editions of the same book but that I own 2 books that overlap for maybe... only ...80% or even 70%?? It means that a hypothetical aggregate editions of this book would be 1000 pages! And still no material from the Amazon would be included! Comparison shows another problem with this book: the selection for inclusion of material appears even more random than it already did. There is no other book that I like so much and yet find fault with in such large degree. I won't go over it again but the change in material between these two books I find impossible to explain in quality. It could be that the new edition draws in more exotica but only marginally. It's a poetry book and it's a manifesto of a poetic movement and in that light you can possible step over many problems but the apparent random selection of texts points to problem of literary merit: there is so much stuff compiled here from all ages and all places and Technician of the Sacred throws them all together without much digestion or understanding of the original purpose of the material or even the beauty of the language or the originality of the images. 

Complaining about ethnopoetics is one of the great joys of ethnopoetics.

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