AESTHETICS IN PERSPECTIVE OR, PUZZLES ABOUT ART

     Matt Hart

Nobody does the reading again,

and it launches me over the edge:

“Are you fucking kidding” I seethe

at the students, “Come back on Wednesday;

there will be a quiz. Class dismissed!”

And on the way back to my office, I stop

to confess to the Dean what I just did,

that I cursed at the students, because

they failed to do the reading. “Good,” she says,

without even looking up.

                                                       And back

at my desk, I fall asleep and dream

that two of my favorite bands,

Jawbreaker and Joy Division,

are both reuniting for a tour together.

Somehow Ian Curtis is back from the dead,

and Blake Schwarzenbach has decided

he can stomach playing the old songs again.

                              I love

                                          Blake Schwarzenbach

                                                                      and all his bands.

And having been in bands myself, I understand

his desire as a musician to not

keep doing the same thing the same way

again and again. I understand too the difficulty

of working with other people in an artistic setting—

tempers and egos and associations and preferences.

Mass Giorgini and I almost came to blows

recording Another Sunny Afternoon,

Squirtgun’s second, and worst, record.

To this day, though, Mass is like a brother to me—

cliché thing that people in bands say, I know,

but it’s true. And as everyone else knows

the relationship between art and truth—

even when it’s bad art—is complicated

at best. “Art is the becoming and happening

of truth” Heidegger said in German, so who knows

what it means in English or what he actually said.

Accurate translation in philosophy’s not even a real thing, is it?

Is accuracy a matter of what the words say or how

they say it? Is it what they mean literally

or what those meanings point to? As with all

my rollercoasters, I have jumped the rails again.

                                           But in the dream in my office

                            after canceling Aesthetics

I wanted to go to the Joy Division/Jawbreaker

reunion show, and I wanted to take my students, too,

but my students, predictably, wanted to go to the mall.

They were, in fact, already waiting for me there at Panera,

and I was late for our meeting. Ferocious with electricity

and sadness and disappointment, I wanted to see those bands

so bad, and I knew I’d never get another chance.

Nevertheless, I didn’t go to the show. I went to the mall

and got hopelessly lost. The students were hoping

I’d be interesting for once. The pack on my back was heavy

with guns. When I finally found Panera,

only one student was still waiting. I gave her the guns,

but I told her they were words. “Don’t forget

to do the reading,” I said. “I won’t,” she replied

in a voice sort of hurt, “I always do the reading,

it’s the others who don’t.” “You’re right,” I said

as her eyes wandered off. “Save your generation,”

I almost called out, but instead

I started coughing up blood.

1/4

Matt Hart is the author of nine books of poems, including most recently Everything Breaking/for Good and The Obliterations. Additionally, his poems, reviews, and essays have appeared or are forthcoming in numerous print and online journals, including Big Bell, Columbia Poetry Review, Harvard Review, jubilat, Lungfull!, Mississippi Review, POETRY, and Waxwing, among others. His awards include a Pushcart Prize, a grant from The Shifting Foundation, and fellowships from the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference. He was a co-founder and the editor-in-chief of Forklift, Ohio: A Journal of Poetry, Cooking & Light Industrial Safety from 1993-2019. Currently, he lives in Cincinnati where he teaches at the Art Academy of Cincinnati and plays in the band NEVERNEW