Nice comeback. And I think you're perfectly correct that the arguments pertaining to the "nature and meaning of poetry" tend to come to the fore at moments when one is least involved in the process of making, when one is least happy with one's own aesthetic choices. Directionlessness breeds demagoguery, in essence: the creation of a manifesto is so often the need to define a mode of writing - indeed, a mode of being - which does not yet exist. 'Vorticism', of course, never really took off. 'Modernism', a term which evolved organically and stuck, resolutely did take off, and continues sailing through the outer reaches of the galaxy, finding new planets with each curve of its trajectory.
Two addenda: Here you can read an excellent article at Culture Wars by Tom Chivers of pennedinthemargins, which covers much the same ground as my original post, though in a far less melancholic tone.
Below, meanwhile, is a shard of a mock manifesto I made by splicing and rejigging words I'd found from various sources. Make of it what you will:
Manifesto for the False Millennium
but the Marxists have reduced the poem to a paranoid geometry of suffering. How can we analyse the body in a discontinuous universe? Is the text nothing more than a spoof of nature, a chaos of sexual artifice? Yet still we must persist, recognising the underlying distortions of our readings. It’s time to expel the economy of meaning. Let’s build our writings on emotional concrete, though it seems futile. Let’s freeze lightning and call it a poem. Let the body write the universe as clusters of discontinuous texts. We’ll let the Marxists analyse the underlying “meaning” of our mathematics. Nature persists in its imperfections, its rough instructions. Our ideals reduce the artificial economy to a spoof of its own distortions; chaos is pleasant, after all, like random photographs of paranoid sex. (Observation: the poem, when it contacts us, is like a voice coming through a distorted phone line: rough, sexual, discontinuous.) Switch on the body and the text will write itself. “Meaning” is nothing but the recognition of an underlying emotional futility. There are no ideals in nature. So how might we expel this persistent paranoia? Moreover, how are we to read mathematics in the light of Marxist analysis?