Taylor Swift joins Rilke in Michael Robbins’ ‘Equipment for Living’

Justin Taylor in the Los Angeles Times:

ScreenHunter_2801 Aug. 23 18.57Criticism is parasitic literature,” writes Michael Robbins, the poet and critic, in his new book, “Equipment for Living: On Poetry and Pop Music,” a collection of his recent criticism, which I in turn have been tasked with criticizing. Where to start?

Maybe best to begin with Robbins himself. An English PhD who mostly eschews traditional academic scholarship, he’s the author of two collections of poems, “Alien vs. Predator” and “The Second Sex.” You may have noticed that both titles are borrowed. The original “Alien vs. Predator” was a movie, the first installment in what became a very bad and successful franchise, though the word “original” is a bit fraught here since the film is itself a mash-up of two older sci-fi franchises that each started strong then devolved into badness. Before “The Second Sex” was Robbins’ book of cantankerous, hilarious and densely allusive poems (with titles cadged from Warren Zevon and the Grateful Dead), it was a foundational piece of feminist criticism published by Simone de Beauvoir in 1949.

This should give you a sense of the sweep of Robbins’ interests and of his investment in sampling, mash-up and parody — all parasitic creative forms — as central elements of his practice. “Originality, fetish object of the young and naive, is no virtue in itself,” he writes in an essay called “Rhyme Is a Drug.” “If it were, every free jazz collective, no matter how inept, would be superior to the Rolling Stones.”

More here.