First published in 1986, w a classic for all who care about the poetry and poetics of the late twentieth century, Content's Dream is a witty, consummately intelligent, and ever stylish collection of essays by one of the country's most invative and influential poets, whose work has come to be associated with L-A-N-G-U-A-G-E, the magazine he coedited at the time these essays were being written. Addressing a wide range of arts and ideas, Bernstein moves rapidly from philosophical reflections on Ludwig Wittgenstein and Stanley Cavell, to the film antics of Mad Max and the cinema of Stan Brakhage, from the paintings of Arakawa to the poetics of William Carlos Williams and Robert Creeley, from the modernist poetry of Gertrude Stein, Laura Riding, and Louis Zukofsky to the contemporary poetry of Jackson Mac Low, Lyn Hejinian, and Ron Silliman. Bernstein's essays are poetic enactments rather than abstract theories, embodying in the way they are written the aesthetic values they passionately and eloquently express. While providing an essential introduction to the invative poetry and poetics of L-A-N-G-U-A-G-E, Bernstein's investigations center on the relation of art to politics and specifically the politics of poetic form. He also explores the conditions, experiences, and alienation of everyday life and the ethical traps of characterization and representation. Bernstein imagines a thinking poetry of both process and critique that ackwledges and responds to the intractability and complexity of contemporary cultural and social problems. At once irreverent and politically engaged, as indebted to Groucho Marx as it is to Karl, Content's Dream is essay writing at its most exuberant and profound.
Charles Bernstein is the David Gray Professor of Poetry and Letters at the State University of New York at Buffalo and cofounder of the journal L-A-N-G-U-A-G-E. He is the author of My Way: Speeches and Poems and A Poetics and editor of 99 Poets/1999: An International Poetics Symposium and Close Listening: Poetry and the Performed Word .