L. Helm was referring to Ashbery not being 'accessible' in an implicative way
-- or something.
For the record, there is some expansion of the little dialogue about Ashbery
being 'accessible' -- or 'unaccessible'.
Since Popper has spoken about access to w1, w2, and w3 -- the world of poetry
And since any thing Popperian interests McEvoy -- or rather, any thing, some
say, reminds McEvoy of Popper -- it is interesting that Ashbery's expansion,
as per below,
involves the Popperian (and for that matter, Griceian) term of art, 'access'.
(Although Grice would prefer 'hermeneutic,' just to be different).
A MacArthur Foundation grant ultimately saved Ashbery from the need for full
time employment. He later won another large prize, the Antonio Feltrinelli
International Prize for Poetry, and the French government made him a Chevalier
de L’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. Ashbery taught at Brooklyn (College). He
also taught at Bard in Annandale-on-Hudson, spending much of his time at the
house he shared with Kermani. The weathered stone structure overlooked the city
courthouse and, he once told The Times, reminded him of his beloved
grandfather’s home. Ashbery was a revered figure for many poets — indeed, his
eminence has been one of the few things the often contentious world of poetry
could generally agree upon. And he was increasingly visible in the broader
culture. Asbery was the first poet laureate of MtvU, the subsidiary of MTV
broadcast only on college campuses, and his lifelong devotion to film, and his
influence on it, was celebrated by the Harvard Film Archive. Yet despite his
literary celebrity, Ashbery remained for many readers enigmatic. It was a
situation of which Ashbery was well aware, and which he generally met with
gentle, amused frustration. Asked by an interviewer for NPR whether his poems
were “accessible,” he responded, “Well, I’m told that they’re not.” (Cfr.
“Grice without an audience.”) Ashbery continues: “What they are is about the
privacy of all of us, and the difficulty of our own thinking.” Ashbery adds:
“And in that way, they are, I think, accessible if anyone cares to access
them.” Sceptical of the standard narratives of literature, Ashbery keeps to a
personal aesthetic that seems to his admirers, as he once wrote of O’Hara,
“entirely natural and available to the multitude of big and little phenomena
which combine to make that unknowable substance that is our experience.” As he
writes in “Someone You Have Seen Before”:
So much that happens happens in small ways
That someone was going to get around to tabulate, and then never did,
Yet it all bespeaks freshness, clarity and an even motor drive
To coax us out of sleep and start us wondering what the new round
Of impressions and salutations is going to leave in its wake
This time. And the form, the precepts, are yours to dispose of as you will,
As the ocean makes grasses, and in doing so refurbishes a lighthouse
On a distant hill, or else lets the whole picture slip into foam.
Asked once about a poet’s proper relationship with his audience, Ashbery
rejectsthe idea of deliberately “shocking” the reader, a tactic he compared to
wearing deliberately outlandish clothing and which he dismissed as “merely
“At the same time,” Ashbery says, “I try to dress in a way that is just
slightly off, so the spectator, if he notices, will feel slightly bemused but
not excluded, remembering his own imperfect mode of dress.”