Wednesday, 9 May 2012

contemporary allegories

I’ve been writing a sequence of poems that explores what I’m convinced is the prevalence of allegorical forms in contemporary culture, especially in advertising, celebrity culture and, to some extent, sport. It’s the opposite of symbolism whose depth is about unearthing essential truths. This new allegory is about surfaces and the arbitrary, as in those meerkats on TV ads where small furry animals with Russian accents are arbitrarily made to represent insurance – gratuitousness and randomness are a major part of the point. These representations, like others now, resemble the Baroque in their elaborate self-consciousness and self-referentiality, but they now also reflect the loss of religion in their self-reflexive lack of depth. And certain celebrities, especially minor ones, have acquired the status of personifications – Jordan, for example, arouses interest because of the stark simplicity of what she represents, and the intense focus on her chest. Here's the start of 'The Breasts':

Her breasts had secretly acquired
an agent, knowing they were better
than their owner – when she tired
and sagged, they only perked up perter,
climbing above her.  She had made it
only because they stood up for her,
who always denied them credit
for parting the way before her.
Now they needed to expand
their contract:  they’d get bigger
only if they could command
a much more generous figure.
Oh my God I’m falling apart
she cried, awaking in the cold dawn: