Saturday, September 04, 2010

“Ease awes.”

“Ease awes,” says Ron Silliman in his essay “Of Theory, To Practice.”

What the hell is he talking about?*

Here’s the context: “Once reading strategies catch up to those of writing, a lot of complexity is going to dissolve. Ease awes. For good reason.”

He’s been talking about the “difficult or obscure” nature of much modern poetry and says once readers “catch up to” the writers that difficulty will “dissolve” into “ease.” Ease? And ease awes! It does? I mean, when someone says, “You make it look easy,” they’re typically talking to a person doing something the speaker has already discovered is NOT easy. So there’s awe in that, awe in appreciating a performance of a difficult act in a manner that makes it look easy.

But once one has achieved a facility in something such that it feels easy, one ceases to be awed by it. It becomes matter-of-fact, just something you can do. So is Ron talking about others who haven’t yet got it? Readers who haven’t yet achieved an ease with the (only apparently) obscure will be awed by readers who have? That sounds unlikely, both as a reading of what Ron means to say, and as something that might happen.


I didn’t quote the sentence to hassle Ron about it. I quote the sentence because it is just so gawdam fun.

“Ease awes.”

Ease awes!

Say it eight times fast. Ease-awes-ease-awes-ease-awes-eez-oz-ee-zaws-ees-ahs-



‘E’s Oz!

source: Postmodern American Poetry, edited by Paul Hoover

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