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Pete Atkin >> Words >> Funnelweb
(Message started by: Sylfest on Today at 10:34)

Title: Funnelweb
Post by Sylfest on Today at 10:34
Returning to my well-thumbed copy of Other Passports recently...
Funnelweb is a dense poem which I've struggled to understand, yet it covers territory that seems very familiar to MV fans of the song canon. There are loads of echoes in it of some of the most vivid lyric lines, though the poem goes further and wider.
Would it be fanciful to regard Funnelweb as 'the James manifesto' in a way?
I miss the old MV lit crit era! How about a community effort to unravel the Funnelweb poem from the point of view of us fans of the related song lyrics? Maybe we could set up a wiki or something to collaborate on ideas. Anyone interested?

Title: Re: Funnelweb
Post by Mike Walters on 07.11.13 at 15:46
I miss those old discussions too, Sylfest.  In principle, I'd be very interested in a discussion about Funnelweb - it's a good few years since I read it but I recall it being fascinating but opaque.  I hadn't thought about it in terms of a potential manifesto or its possible relationship to Clive's lyric-writing. I will go and dig it out for a re-read...

Title: Re: Funnelweb
Post by Ian Ashleigh on 10.11.13 at 10:38
I retrieved my copy of 'The Book of My Enemy' from its shelf and read Funnelweb for the first time in a long time.  It is opaque yet familiar and a sharing of views about it as suggested by Mike Walters and Sylfest would be interesting.

I know that Clive purposely and deliberately has always separated his poetry from his song lyrics but while reading I envisaged Pete taking the poem and turning it into a Roy Harperseque leviathan taking up the whole side of an LP - I can see the reaction at RCA back in the day as I write!!

Title: Re: Funnelweb
Post by dr_john on 10.11.13 at 17:30
Link here for those who haven't seen it for a while.

http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=2oiKM4we26wC&pg=PA29&lpg=PA29&dq=clive+james+funnelweb... (http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=2oiKM4we26wC&pg=PA29&lpg=PA29&dq=clive+james+funnelweb&source=bl&ots=_9CC0HHKh_&sig=nn695pjKd_xTJ0VWVOzooM1OlFw&hl=en&sa=X&ei=YcF_UuHxKuaJ0AWl4IGgAw&ved=0CDEQ6AEwAQ#v=onepage&q=clive%20james%20funnelweb&f=false)

<< Displayed URL shortened. Hyperlink remains complete, but note the source doesn't display the entire poem -- SJB >>

Title: Re: Funnelweb
Post by Sylfest on 11.11.13 at 14:12
That link didn't take me as far as the end of the poem, though it went most of the way. I don't know if everyone will have the same experience.

Good to hear the interest in looking at Funnelweb.
As far as I can tell, the poem presents a series of vivid but unrelated moments where there is wonder and grace in some ephemeral detail - white spirals of vapour spinning of a fighter plane's wingtip, a flame reflected in the mask of a diver welding underwater - that seems incongruous or irrelevant in its context.
From the songs, I think we've all felt the thrill of these moments - "a galleon with fire below falls glowing through the sea", "the hands on his chest flared more brightly than his name, for a Technicolor second...". For me, these phrases are the hallmark and greatest delight of Clive's lyrics. But in the poem he pursues the idea way further than "a perfect bitch it doesn't work that way", arguing that these are not mere ephemera but reveal glimpses of something deeper. Peter Porter's review of the poem in the London Review of Books likens Funnelweb to a jewel, each of whose (tightly constructed and polished) facets illuminates the centre. But it's a challenge to discover what connects these facets - or even what some of the facets are - and what lies at that centre.

I'd like to understand this better. Can it reveal a key idea, one that links academic and populist Clive, the restless scholarship and the eye for incidental beauty, even junk?
Even if that's too fanciful, there's still the enjoyable collector's game of tracing ideas and images from songs written earlier.

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