Content's Dream: Essays, 1975-1984 is the celebrated introduction to language poetry by one of its leading practitioners, Charles Bernstein. First published in 1986, and now a classic study of the poetry and poetics of late-twentieth-century America, this collection of essays conducts us with wit, intelligence, and consummate style through the elaborate relations between language and culture. Bernstein considers verbal, pictorial, and filmic language to understand why writing is never the unmediated expression of personal feeling but always charged with latent meaning.
Addressing a wide range of arts, Bernstein's essays move gracefully from discussions of Mad Max, Stan Brakhage, and Arakawa, to William Carlos Williams, Louis Zukovsky and Jackson Mac Low. Rather than propose grand theories, Bernstein synthesizes the many sets of ideas that are necessary for a practical understanding of contemporary culture. Reading a variety of texts and expanding on his own thinking and method, Bernstein provides a brilliant introduction not only to language writing but to all avant-garde literary ambitions of the last two decades of the century.
At once irreverent and deeply serious, as indebted to Groucho Marx as it is to Stanley Cavell, Content's Dream stakes out a clear cultural and aesthetic position for one extraordinary poet, for language poetry, and for our time.