Very, Very Jones - bundled with - Maximum Buddhism

I've invented a new religion. I call it Maximum Buddhism. It's for Buddhists who like to party. Tenets of this religion will be forthcoming.

I'm in a seminar with Terribly Important Critic A. I mentioned a passing interest in the life of a colorful character named Jones Very, a 19th Century poet who thought himself, at various points, to have achieved a total correspondence to Shakespeare, and then to Christ, as in "I stand here before you today the greatest of poets and the son of God." He would go to meetings and such, and argue with people, and when they argued back, he would say, "your argument cannot be correct, because I am Jesus Christ, and everything I say is ordained by God." Once, when a manuscript of his was returned with a spelling error pointed out, he insisted that the error could not be corrected, and was not an error, for it was dictated to his hand by the Divine Muse.

Jones Very had one of my favorite sentences ever written about him, by A. Bronson Alcott: "I received a letter on Monday of this week from Jones Very of Salem, formerly Tutor in Greek at Harvard College — which institution he left, a few weeks since, being deemed insane by the Faculty." Jones Very was swept off to an asylum, but no one was able to clinically diagnose him as a madman. So, they let him go, and when they did, the inmates thanked him profusely.

So this guy's pretty awesome, and there's a touch of the ghost story about his life. But the upshot is, Terribly Important Critic A sent an email to Dreadfully Significant Critic B, and recommendations were doled out, in case I want to delve further into the life of this slipshod prophet of Concord; and not only that, but Terribly Important Critic A wants to know what I think. On the one hand, this is more work for me, and I loathe doing work. On the other, I am either 1 degree -- or 15 years of backbreaking reading, writing, and toil, more than a dollop o' remarkable luck, and a renewed ideological interest and financial commitment from the upper echelons of the US Gov. in higher education in the field of the humanities -- away from the inner sanctum. I feel more or less the same way I did opening for bands that opened for the Dismemberment Plan and Built to Spill. Right on the fringes of something that some people care about, and are impressed with. And even though nobody thinks I'm important, or is particularly impressed with me, I'm closer to the people that they're impressed with than they are. This is the part of my personality that badly wants to become a limo driver, or a Hollywood assistant. I believe this aspect is also known as shameful self-aggrandizement. I ride swanker coattails than you!

Worship me, tiny men of the world, for I am your Lord God!


SenorStephenUrkelDaedalus said...

I wanted to read some Jones Very once, but he's almost entirely out of print, and I didn't feel like paging through the incredibly old copy in the University of Iowa library.

In sum, I hope you can singlehandedly return him to critical acclaim, so Penguin will release a Selected Writings and I can buy it for $9 on Amazon. (introduction by Doug Tye)

D said...

There's a new-ish volume of his collected poems edited by some Deese woman. I'm thinking about writing a chapter of my dissertation about him. Not about his poetry, just about how fucking crazy he was.