chapter  1
44 Pages

Habitat New York: Joseph Cornell’s ‘imaginative universe’

Many of the poems in the collection are chronicles of their own creative acts, and Ashbery seems to ask that the reader of his work give precedence to the same principle to which he adheres as a writer namely, to value the processes of reading and attempting to understand over any definitive answers that the poetry may or may not yield. The collection also, despite manifest associations with avant-garde art techniques, succeeds in situating itself at a remove from the movements including Dada, Surrealism and Abstract Expressionism which generated them. Whilst historically the pasting to paper of miscellaneous items is, of course, a key part of the collage practice, it evolved, from 1912, to encompass the artist or writer or musician's emotional and intellectual relationship with their aesthetic universe, which includes not just whatever it is that constitutes their work, a 'new thought' is yielded.