This article compares the poetry of two prominent modern writers: Polish-Jewish poetess Zuzanna Ginczanka, and Ukrainian Lemko poet Bohdan-Ihor Antonych. They are believed to have certain poetic, stylistic, thematic, and literary similarities. The main discourses of their poetic imaginum mundi are studied with the use of a simple formula that includes five components. Tracing the interplay of nature, childhood, religion, and civilization in the development of an image of a holistic personality in their poetry, I analyze their common (...) and differing ideas, images, motifs, and themes. The article also outlines the underlying similarities of both poets, i.e., their otherness, and their references to childhood as a certain place in their poetry. (shrink)
Machine generated contents note: Introduction: love after Aristotle; 1. Enjoyment: a medieval history; 2. Narcissus after Aristotle: love and ethics in Le Roman de la Rose; 3. Metamorphoses of pleasure in the fourteenth century Dit Amoureux; 4. Love's knowledge: fabliau, allegory, and fourteenth-century anti-intellectualism; 5. On human happiness: Dante, Chaucer, and the felicity of friendship; Coda: Chaucer's philosophical women.
Marcel Duchamp once asked whether it is possible to make something that is not a work of art. This question returns over and over in modernist culture, where there are no longer any authoritative criteria for what can be identified (or excluded) as a work of art. As William Carlos Williams says, “A poem can be made of anything,” even newspaper clippings.At this point, art turns into philosophy, all art is now conceptual art, and the manifesto becomes the distinctive genre (...) of modernism. This book takes seriously this transformation of art into philosophy, focusing upon the systematic interest that so many European philosophers take in modernism. Among the philosophers Gerald Bruns discusses are Theodor W. Adorno, Maurice Blanchot, Arthur Danto, Stanley Cavell, Hans-Georg Gadamer, Michel Foucault, Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, Jacques Derrida, Jean-François Lyotard, Jean-Luc Nancy, Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe, and Emmanuel Levinas.As Bruns demonstrates, the difficulty of much modern and contemporary poetry can be summarized in the idea that a poem is made of words, not of any of the things that we use words to produce: meanings, concepts, propositions, narratives, or expressions of feeling. Many modernist poets have argued that in poetry language is no longer a form of mediation but a reality to be explored and experienced in its own right. But what sort of experience, philosophically, might this be? The problem of the materiality or hermetic character of poetic language inevitably leads to questions of how philosophy itself is to be written and what sort of communitydefines the work of art—or, for that matter, the work of philosophy.In this provocative study, Bruns answers that the culture of modernism is a kind of anarchist community, where the work of art is apt to be as much an event or experience—or, indeed, an alternative form of life—as a formal object. In modern writing, philosophy and poetry fold into one another. In this book, Bruns helps us to see how. (shrink)
Summary This article opens with a brief introduction to Giuseppe Mazzini, with particular reference to his commitment to republicanism, an ideal that would be fulfilled in Italy only after considerable time and with great difficulty. It then focuses on Mazzini's critical reception of Byron. Although Giuseppe Mazzini and Percy Bysshe Shelley would have allowed a more obvious comparison, it was Byron who really attracted Mazzini's attention and criticism. Mazzini uses Byron, on the one hand, as a means to demonstrate that (...) Italians could discuss Europeanpoetry without putting at risk their national identity, or, as the classicists maintained, that fragile and fragmented profile of a nation that contemporary Italy offered to the minds and hearts of thousands of young people. On the other hand, however, Mazzini questions Byron's authority by subverting and converting his value, in a very personal way: he gradually substitutes Byron's with a different authority and credits him with new values. Mazzini could not accept Byron as the emblem of elitism and isolation: Byron's solipsism needed to be purified, and his renowned cynical attitude tempered; eventually Byron's myth needed to be connected to the destiny of peoples and nations. (shrink)
They used to believe that mankind began in 4004 B.C. and the Greeks in 776. We now know that these last five thousand years during which man has left written record of himself are but a minute fraction of the time he has spent developing his culture. We now understand that the evolution of human society, its laws and customs, its economics, its religious practices, its games, its languages, is a very slow process, to be measured in millennia. In the (...) case of Greek religious usage it is now appreciated that it has its roots not in Mycenaean but in Palaeolithic times. As for Greek poetry, comparative studies have shown that it goes back by a continuous tradition to Indo-Europeanpoetry. (shrink)
Exploring hermeticism in English, American, and Europeanpoetry, this is the only book to discuss hermetic poetry from the Renaissance to the present day. This highly original study makes a significant theoretical advance in seeing the interpretation of hermetic poetry as a paradigm of understanding as such.
The strong word and stance issue only from a strict will, a will that dares the error of reading all of reality as a text, and all prior texts as openings for its own totalizing and unique interpretations. Strong poets present themselves as looking for truth in the world, searching in reality and in tradition, but such a stance, as Nietzsche said, remains under the mastery of desire, of instinctual drives. So, in effect, the strong poet wants pleasure and not (...) truth; he wants what Nietzsche named as "the belief in truth and the pleasurable effects of this belief." No strong poet can admit that Nietzsche was accurate in this insight, and no critic need fear that any strong poet will accept and so be hurt by demystification. The concern of this book, as of my earlier studies in poetic misprision, is only with strong poets, which in this series of chapters is exemplified by the major sequence of High Romantic British and American poets: Blake, Wordsworth, Shelley, Keats, Tennyson, Browning, Yeats, Emerson, Whitman, and Stevens, but also throughout by two of the strongest poets in the European Romantic tradition: Nietzsche and Freud. By "poet" I therefore do not mean only verse-writer, as the instance of Emerson also should make clear. Harold Bloom is DeVane Professor of the Humanities at Yale University. This article is the first chapter of his new book, Poetry and Repression, to be published by the Yale University Press. The book completes a tetralogy, of which the earlier volumes are The Anxiety of Influence, A Map of Misreading, and Kabbalah and Criticism. See also: "Formalism, Savagery, and Care; or, The Function of Criticism Once Again" by Jerome J. McGann in Vol. 2, No. 3; "The Poet as Elaborator: Analytical Psychology as a Critical Paradigm" by David D. Cooper in Vol. 6, No. 1. (shrink)
continent. 2.1 (2012): 22–28. Jeroen Mettes burst onto the Dutch poetry scene twice. First, in 2005, when he became a strong presence on the nascent Dutch poetry blogosphere overnight as he embarked on his critical project Dichtersalfabet (Poet’s Alphabet). And again in 2011, when to great critical acclaim (and some bafflement) his complete writings were published – almost five years after his far too early death. 2005 was the year in which Dutch poetry blogging exploded. That year (...) saw the foundation of the influential, polemical, and populistically inclined weblog De Contrabas (The Double Bass), which became a strong force for internet poetry in Dutch in the years to follow. In the summer of that year, a lively debate raged in the aftermath of Bas Belleman’s article “ Doet poëzie er nu eindelijk toe ?” (“Does poetry finally matter now?”), on a blog specifically devoted to this question. Up to that point, the poetical debate in the Netherlands had largely been confined to literary reviews (which were often subsidized), having become mostly marginalized in more mainstream media, where poetry could be covered by only a small number of so-called authorities. As a result, literary debate had acquired a rather placid quality. Though a variety of camps with different aesthetics could be discerned, most poetical positions shared a general acceptance of poetry as a form of art somewhat apart from fundamental political concerns. Late modernists would pursue subtlety and density of reference. Others would insist poetry was best understood as a form of entertainment that should ideally be accessible and work well on the stage. Still others would insist that poetry is mostly a play with forms. Linguistically disruptive strategies were valued highly by some, but mostly for their aesthetic effect. Values of disinterested playfulness reigned supreme everywhere. Any idea that poetry could be a field in which one confronts politics and the world was decidedly marginal. This led to a climate in which most attempts at polemics were DOA, often based on far too superficial positioning and analysis. The greatest polemical debates were revolving around the question of whether poetry should be difficult or easy, with both camps defining their ideas of difficulty and accessibility in ways that were so utterly shallow as to make the entire point moot. Debates were performed, rather than engaged with. It was a postmodern hell of underarticulated poetics. Half-consciously, people were yearning for new forms of criticism that could put the oomph back into poetry. Weblogs provided for ways to explore debate directly outside of the clotted older channels of the reviews and the newspapers. Belleman’s essay and the resulting online activity had shown that there was a widespread eagerness to take poetry more seriously as a social art form. It was in this environment that Mettes started his remarkable project Dichtersalfabet . At that moment, Mettes was active mostly in academic circles, having become noted at Leiden University as a particularly gifted student of literary theory. Within the Netherlands, the field of literary theory has a very odd relationship to literature as it is practiced in the country. Academic theory tends to have a mostly international view and engage with international debates of cultural criticism, literary theory, and philosophy, with academics often publishing in English and attending conferences around the world. Literature itself however is much more concerned with domestic traditions. Consequently, in the Netherlands, there exists a language gap between academic theoretical practice (as it is studied in the literary theory departments) and literary practice (which, academically, gets studied in specialized departments of Dutch literature). The Dichtersalfabet can be seen as Mettes’s attempt to close this gap. It is also an attempt to bridge the divide between theory and practice, in which he could apply his theoretical knowledge in a very unorthodox and unacademic critical mode that moreover could reach far beyond the domain of conventional criticism. Mettes’s goal was to trace a diagonal through Dutch poetic culture, to “strangle” what he perceived to be its dominant oppressive traditions of agreeable irrelevance, in order to see whatever might be able to survive his critical assaults. But he could only do so by means of a very serious engagement with poetry itself. To this end, he would go systematically through the poetry bookshelf of the Verwijs bookshop (part of a mainstream chain of booksellers) in The Hague, buying one publication per blog item, starting from A and working his way through the alphabet, reading whatever he might encounter that way in the restaurant of the HEMA store (another big commercial chain in the country). He would subsequently write down his reading experiences, refraining however from trying to write a nuanced book review. Rather, he would write about anything that caught his attention and sparked his critical interest. This way of working would yield vast, at times somewhat rambling, dense, lively, and generally brilliant essays, in which he held no punches. He never hesitated to pull out his entire arsenal of concepts from the international theory traditions, while never degenerating into mere academic exercise and pointless intertextualities. The attempt was rather to live the poetry that he read, and to engage it with the full range of political, academic, cultural, and personal references that he had at his disposal—all that composed the individual named Jeroen Mettes as a reader. Often what he wrote would not be according to the standards of what we usually think of as a critical review of a book of poetry. Sometimes he would even be a little sloppy in his judgments of poets or representations of the books he read, for example by basing an entire essay on the blurb of a book rather than its poetry content. But what he did was always brilliant writing nonetheless—virtuoso riffs on poetic fragments randomly found within capitalist society, exposing an incisive and insistent poetical sensibility. Mettes read poetry for political reasons, to see whether poetry could offer him a way to deal with a political world he detested. The right-wing horrors of the Bush years, the Iraq war, and the turn of Dutch public opinion towards ever more conservative, narrow-minded, and xenophobic views alongside a complete failure of the political left to present any credible alternative, were weighing heavily on the times in which Mettes reported on his reading. Poetry was to measure this world, diagram it, to lay bare its inconsistencies and faults, to indicate where lines of flight might be found. Amid the ruins of a world wrecked by imperialist policies, corporate capitalism, and doctrinal neoliberalism it would have to show the possibility of a new community. And it was, through its rhythmical workings, to release the reading subject from his confinement to ideologically conditioned individuality and lead him into the immanent paradise of reading. The stakes were high. Much higher than anything Dutch poetry had seen for many years. Mettes’s blog was widely read from the start. His posts sparked lively debates. Some of these subsequently led to the publication of extensive essays on a few key poets in some literary journals, particularly Parmentier and the Flemish journal yang , for which Mettes would become a member of the editorial board, a few months after starting the Dichtersalfabet . This could have been the start of a brilliant career, but this was not to be. The initial manic energy that fueled the blog gradually subsided. The Alfabet was updated less and less regularly. Mettes sometimes just disappeared for many weeks, then suddenly returning with a brilliant essay. Until, on September 21, 2006, he posted his final blogpost, consisting of no text whatsoever. That night I learned from his mentor at Leiden University that he had committed suicide. Mettes and I had had some fruitful exchanges on poetry, rhythm, music, and form, mostly on the blogs, but also by email. Three weeks before his death was the last time I heard from him: a very sudden, uncharacteristically curt note saying “My old new sentence epic.” Attached to that message I found a DOC-file of a work so major that I felt intimidated. This was N30 , a text he had been working on for over five years. After his death, it took me a long time before I dared to read it in its entirety. In the meantime, the work of preparing the manuscript for publication was entrusted by his relatives to his colleagues at yang magazine. It took them a few years to brush up the text and to edit the Dichtersalfabet -blog (which, apart from the Alphabet project itself, incorporated many other fragments of political, polemical, and theoretical writing) into book form along with the essays. The result of this labor was finally published in 2011 as a two-book set, and Mettes burst onto the Dutch poetry scene for the second time. The work was widely reviewed, on blogs, in journals, magazines, and newspapers. Many critics who had not followed the blogs in 2005 showed themselves surprised, baffled even, by the intensity of Mettes’s critical writing. But for those who had read the blog, the main surprise was in the poetry. During Mettes’s lifetime, some of his poems had already been published in Parmentier . Although these were strong texts by themselves, in no way did they prepare readers for N30 . Nothing like it had been written in Dutch before. Instead, N30 explicitly follows the American tradition of Language Writing, directly referencing Ron Silliman and his concept of The New Sentence. However, it would seem that much of the poetical thinking around his use of this technique puts him closer to a writer such as Bruce Andrews. For Mettes, using non sequiturs as a unit of poetic construction was not only a way of reinventing formal textual construction, but it was another way of finding the fault lines in the social fabric. From the perspective of the Language tradition, one may put N30 somewhere between Silliman and Andrews. N30 shares an autobiographical element with Silliman’s New Sentence projects, and as in Andrews, there is a concern for mapping out social totality within text—what Mettes refers to as a “textual world civil war.” Again this shows a formal textual strategy for allowing the person “Jeroen Mettes” to be absorbed by the world, which here appears as a whirlwind of demotic and demonic chatter, full of violence, humor, intensity, beauty, disgust, sex, commerce, and strife. Influenced as it may by American precursors, Mettes’s tone and form end up quite different from his American counterparts, consistently referencing a world that is Dutch, all too Dutch, taking on the oppressive orderliness of Dutch society with its endemic penchant for consensus by introducing chaos into its daily life and laying bare its implicit aggressions. The work’s 31 chapters each have a different feel and rhythmical outline, but none of them follow a predetermined pattern. Rather, Mettes would consistently edit and reedit the text, randomly rewriting parts of it, as he explains in his poetical creed Politieke Poëzie (Political Poetry). N30 – referring to the 1999 antiglobalist protest in Seattle – was to be the first text of a trilogy. The work itself was written “in the mode of the present.” A second text was to be written in the mode of the future, and a third one, in the mode of the past, was going to be an epic poem about the Paris Commune, and to form an alternative poetic constitution for the European project. I still deeply regret that Jeroen Mettes never got to complete those projects, just as I would be very keen on knowing what he might have had to say about more recent political developments. Instead, in 2006, he remained stuck in the horrors of the present, that ended up consuming him completely. He left Dutch literature with some of its most piercing criticism and its most profoundly moving, exciting and powerful poetry. Excerpts from N30 Translated by Vincent W.J. van Gerven Oei from Jeroen Mettes. "N30." In N30+ . Amsterdam: De wereldbibliotheek, 2011. Published with permission of Uitgeverij Wereldbibliotheek, Amsterdam. Chapter 1 1999. A day is a space too. And another man, who had chained himself, had his ribs crushed, and a motor has driven over somebody’s legs. Dutch health care system spends ±145 million guilders per year on worriers. A spiderweb vibrates as I pass by. Randstad renovating. She slaps her bag against her ass: “Hurry up!” OPINION IS TRUE FRIENDSHIP Your skin. It doesn’t express anything. “But the use of the sword, that’s what I learned, and you’ll need nothing more for the moment.” Just try to interrogate a guy like that. Gullit in Sierra Leone. Codes silently lying all around. But that’s simply what belongs to “that it’s just allowed”: that sigh of “world” (a word expressing that the trees are now standing along the water like black men with white bags in their hair); that’s nothing else right? And you see how everything has to move, and first of all what cannot do so. Without Elysium and without savings, barbarians lashing out, horny for an enemy, staring across the water, staring into the air—staring to get out of it. “You’ve never showed me more than the mall,” she said. All those “dreams” in the end—and now? It was lying on the stairway, so I picked it up and took it upstairs. Chapter 3 “You know what?” Telecommunication. For love… I don’t really like that cheap cultural pessimism, but… The holy city is on pilgrimage in the earthly bodies of the faithful until the time of the heavenly kingdom has come. The end of an exhausting autumn day behind the computer, my eyes filled with tears of fatigue. KITCHEN / INSTALLATION / SPECIALIST. Network integration. In the sun, stretched out on a sheet. (…) I don’t believe what I’m reading, because I want to believe something else. An illusion? Suits me. There’s a variety of shapes and tastes… “So what?” you may think. 102 dalmatians can’t be wrong. But I want more, dear… A feel good movie. I’m smashing the burned body. So what? We continue to save the European civilization. What’s there to win? Plato with poets = Stalin without gulag? Ball against the crossbar. No wonder. She comes straight to her point. She’s standing in the kitchen eating an apple. (…) The godless Napoleon had used her as a stable and wanted to have her taken down. “Our” Rutger Hauer. Ready or not here I come. Psst… are you also wearing a string? Nobody understands our desire. Cliffs breaking the waves and shattering the sunset. I used to be a real romantic (as a poet). A typical fantasy used to be the one in which I brutally raped mother and daughter Seaver from the sitcom Growing Pains . Nevertheless you only contain bad words. Eyelashes. Automatic or manual? That your skin always in the afternoon. Integration. The air is empty. Too bad! Hand in hand on their lonely way. Alaska! Chapter 12 May 5, 2001 [10:00-10:30] A dust cloud on a hill. Globe. Indian (British) (tie) / pope. Damascus. Rape. We’re carrying the ayatollah’s portrait through the streets. At the moment the girl is mostly suede jacket with white ribbons on her sleeves. A small explosion flares up/impact. Camouflage. Close up. We’re analyzing the situation. He’s dead right? Dead dead. Dead. Everything without, these, and only with the body. Indices signal death. Dollar bills are printed in factories. Holes. Light patch. Globe in a box. Microphone. What’s the situation? Grey impact on a green hill (field?). The water is blue. He has no lips. Interns on the background with skirts that are too long. This is an example of a sonnet. An Islamic woman pushes against the door of an electronics shop. Arrows (percentages (prices)). Is this what awaits the American? Touch screen interface. The word, an island, can only be a sign in that situation. We pull up a chair, join in on the fun. On the shelves only books about computers. One glance in the distance is enough to lighten up a luna park in the distance. She’s really desperate, especially when she laughs. Click. Ah. Next. And now it’s raining, but that’s ok. Yellow stains sliding over the south. Shallow caves light: clothes, boots, electrical equipment. 45. 22:10. Nothing gives you the right to eat more than people starving to death. The Hague. Slam dunk. Traffic light. Two H’s, one L (standing for the L (little prick)). We’re happy to say something. Clouds, small suns, temperatures, cities. The truth is never an excuse. Yellow. Yellow. Green. Yellow. Yellow. Yellow. Yellow. Green. Green. Yellow. Will you email me? Skeleton: “No.” Ex-nerds in brand-new and brightly red sport cars. $$$. I love. Shihab. Hooves in the sand. Skinny senior with over-sized sunglasses; old jockey (cap, trophy) smiling in slow motion. And there I am again, flashback, crying with my head in between my hands. Sometimes I’ve got the feeling that cannibals. Eyes: blue. Cancer. Why would I wait until tomorrow? Golden beams protruding from the lifted/lit earth. May 5, 2001 [11:30-12:45] You’ll remember this for the rest of your life. Graphs, diagrams. Bu$ine$$. Blue shirt, white collar, no neck (porn star). A name lights up. I’m hysteric. Will you join us? Letters falling in their words. Fingers set up a tent and start to dance. Young entrepreneurs from poor neighborhoods (read: black) guided by Microsoft. Kinda makes me happy, that sort of kitsch. A sense of exhaustion/impotence to see anything but the present. (…) Wouldn’t you like to? Orange explosion in an industrial zone. YOU’RE DOING THIS FOR AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL. Would you. A familiar face. Clouds and blossom. Sunflowers. Supermodels. Mountainous area in a rectangle: shades of brown, from dark to beige, more green toward the south. Tents and next to them (it’s all a blur) people. Plane. Stadium. Geometrical block of people. No, I ain’t crying. I don’t speak no more. I just want. Quote + photo. (Positive:) screaming crowd. Three-piece suit, seen from the back, before entering the arena. On the back: “Daddy abused me.” Oh, bummer. State of emergency has been declared and everyone has to cooperate. She’s cut her wrists. What we do know (…) is that there’s never been a unique word, an imperative name, nor will there ever be. [Click here for work that suits you.] Barefooted children are watching it (coherent pieces revelation of what’s lying below). Who knows how she’s changed during those two years. “Everything used to be better” + sigh. And here we are. An empty field of parquet. A city lying behind it. Explosion. Blue. A rain drop falling in my coffee. May 5, 2001 [14:30-15:30] A young Arafat on video speaking with raised finger. “I’m calling from my convertible.” Names on walls, victims, numbers… Tourists. Yellow. Yellow. “Your own child! Really, what kind of human are you?” I don’t want to hear it no more. A woman jumping out of the water in a yellow bikini against a background of fireworks and the Cheops pyramid. Thy sorrow shall become good fortune, thy complaints laudation. All planets will float and wander. Wo die Welt zum Bild wird, kommt das System (…) zur Herrschaft. It is something, but is it? May 5, 2001 [18:30-19:00] Iris. Leaves. NASDAQ. Open / and white and. For the one who’s doing nothing, just waiting. (…) NO DEFEAT is made entirely up of defeat -- since / the world it opens is always a place / formerly / unsuspected. October 2002. “Jeroen, I’m leaving for the cemetery, byeeee.” The rise of the middle class. My entire oeuvre is an ode to the. My entire head is a fight against the. God always demands what you cannot sacrifice. You may take that the easy way, but… “The state hasn’t made us, but we make the state” (Hitler). A stork exits the elevator. Skeletons of. Moscow. Helsinki. Palermo. Paris. Chapter 30 Like your paradises: nothing. United Desire, as only remaining superpower. And even though the sea is now calmer and the wind is blowing pleasantly in my face… Heart! Who determines whether a tradition is “alive”? The yellow leaf or the white branch? Mars. This sentence is a typical example. Most Dutch people are happy. No consolation. When I see a girl sitting at a table with a book, a notepad, a pen, a bottle of mineral water, her hand writing in the light—then I consider that one thing. “Presents,” “poetry,” “classics.” We are what we cannot make from ourselves. “Left”: mendicant orders, missionaries. Saint-Just: “A republic is founded on the destruction of its enemies.” She crosses the street with a banana peel between her fingers. (…) We chose our own wardens, torturers, it was us who called all this insanity upon ourselves, we created this nightmare… But “no”? Girl (just like a beach ball) talking rapid Spanish (Portuguese?) in a mobile phone. Do I have a chance now that her boyfriend is getting bold? CLIO, horny bitch. What else do you want? An old woman, between the doors of the C1000, is suddenly unable to go on; her husband stretches out his hand, speaking a few encouraging words. Selection from. Der Führer schenkt den Jüden ein Stadt. How can it reach us if we haven’t been already reached somehow? It doesn’t “speak.” No problem. Each word she uses is a small miracle, as if she doesn’t belong to it, to language, but wanders around with a pocket light looking for the exit; she’s never desperate (maybe a little nervous), lighting up heavy words from the inside. But indeed, we’re free. But the predicate is not an attribute, but an event, and the subject is not a subject, but a shell. That’s why also samurai, knights, and warriors raised the blossom as emblem: they knew how to die. Locked up in a baby carriage with a McDonald’s balloon. Blue helicopter, the blue sky. Whether you want to refer? The point is. How / Motherfucker can I sing a sad song / When I remember Zion? You’ll feel so miserable and worthless that you think: “If only I were dead!,” or: “Just put an end to it!” “So you’re an economist?” Her card—two little birds building a nest, her handwriting shaking—is still on the mantelpiece. Guevara: “No, a communist.” A straw fire, such was our life: rapidly it flared up, rapidly it passed. I’m fleeing, coming from nowhere. (…) Eazy-E drinking coffee with the American president. If I’d scream, would that be an event? Drown it: the cleaner it will rise up from the depths. No! The night, so fast… As if there’s something opened up in that face. Come on, we may not curse life. He shows me his methadone: “If you drink that all at once, you’ll die instantly.” The last one dictates how we should behave to deserve happiness. One shine / above the earth. “I want to go to Bosnia,” I said bluntly. I don’t even know the name of the current mayor. Let’s despise our success! “There is no future; this is the future. Hope is a weakness that we've overcome. We have found happiness!” Sun. Sushi. Volvo. I feel like a bomb about to explode at any moment. Makes a difference for the reconstruction right? The decor moves forward. Daughter of Nereus, you nymphs of the sea, and you Thetis, you should have kept his tired head above the waves! Alas! This sentence has been written wearing a green cap. I receive my orders from the future. A frog jumps into it. Her husband has turned the Intifada, which he follows daily on CCN, into his hobby, “to forget that he doesn’t have his driver’s license yet." Suddenly the sun slides over the crosswalk. Her (his?) foot is playing with the slipper under the table. Is this how I’m writing this book now? I’m not a fellow man. I hate you and I want to hurt you. These are my people. Their screaming doesn’t rise above the constantly wailing sirens which we've learned to ignore. My whole body became warm and suddenly started to tremble. Unfortunate is he who is standing on the threshold of the most beautiful time, but awaits a better one. Arafat’s “removal” is contrary to American interests. Jeep drives into boy. What you can do alone, you should do alone. A food gift from the people of the United States of America. Two seagulls. [...]. (shrink)
continent. 1.3 (2011): 201-207. “Poetry is experience, linked to a vital approach, to a movement which is accomplished in the serious, purposeful course of life. In order to write a single line, one must have exhausted life.” —Maurice Blanchot (1982, 89) Nikos Karouzos had a communist teacher for a father and an orthodox priest for a grandfather. From his four years up to his high school graduation he was incessantly educated, reading the entire private library of his granddad, comprising (...) mainly the Orthodox Church Fathers and the ancient classics. Later on in his life he sold the library for money, only to buy a little more time before he went broke again: “I carry sorrow like a cage/ I got no birds/ as I come back from her hair/ I see the profit emptied/ cool from terror.” (1993, Ι, 101) Nowadays—and ridiculously recently—we are more than apt to speak of a certain insouciance pertaining to the Greek form of expenditure: expenditure without any type of investment, sometimes not (even) symbolic. In the vaults of the European unconscious, this imprudent stance still conjures a “capital punishment” in the form of de-capitation, reflecting back the fear of excess and the terror of its consequences.1 Thus the Greek way of living is very close to what a stranger could have termed as “the Greek way of dying.” Yet, what is not often understood is that the Greek esprit , the same one that invented the maxim μηδ?ν ?γαν (“nothing in excess”), does not experience death solely as an imminent fear of bankruptcy. For it miraculously combines its unconditional acceptance with the promise of a resurrection that is always there in the scents of Spring, from Dionysus to the orthodox Christ: “Everyone resurrects himself through dying [….] Resurrection is the switching of mortalities.” (2002, 94) Hence, if an entire library was imprudently traded for a plate with seven olives, a sliced tomato and some fresh goat cheese, let us not be fooled: this is not the meal of the pauper, but that of “an aristocrat from God” (1993, II, 491) feeding his eloquent loudmouth, ridiculously cut open in an otherwise rock-solid caput . *** To speak of the Greek experience is to speak about a half-dead language that still utters in life what is seemingly excluded from it and thus forbidden to be talked about: death. Death as anything that is out of this world, as something that will never return . Still, along with an experience of death that recently waned as a worn-out academic fashion, the Greek experience is dead too. Nearly 2300 years of written words separating Homer from the fall of Byzantium equal 500 books on a library traded for money: “I am with the killed. Hence my deepest solitude. I do not feel this tremendous macho society, beyond from the fact that it is a ruthlessly consuming one. It is me who pays all the time .” (2002, 57) Let us do the math and see how much this dealing with the Greek experience is costing the poet and how much dealing with the Greek experience might cost us today. *** “I do not guarantee a single word.” (Karouzos, 1993, II, 454) Through its various dialects and forms, the Greek language speaks through an incessant historical dissemination. Anyone who is aware of this terrifying polymorphy and still calls himself a poet, must stand against a white sheet of paper, pen-in-hand, with a very particular duty: to be as fully inconsistent as possible. In the formally ironic uniqueness of the poem, the poet functions as “a band-aid for lesser and greater antinomies.” (1993, I, 251) Of course these antinomies are not exhausted in language—they are historical, political and, alas, existential. Yet, beyond appearances , it is language that ruthlessly encodes them through history, submitting the poet to the temptation of placing them one next to the other on a single white sheet. The closer their neighboring, the greater the scattering of the writer in the ironic uniqueness of the paper. In a work where poetic license is described as a “freedom-impasse” (2002, 51), this task is undertaken in full conscience of its personal consequences: “what I am interested in is to escape my individuality (envisioning the non-ego) […] Nevertheless, my dissociations never achieve duration.” (2002, 74-75) Hence, though poetry is the “deserted direction of will,” (1998, 62) the stance of the poet is not that of a Nietzschean “great man.”2 Whereas drunkenness provides a thread between the poem and the excess it both presupposes and infuses (“Poetry always enlarges. ‘Drunkenness’ is nothing more than that,” (2002, 85)), whereas language flashes in loudmouth spurts of déraison (“When I am alone I do something else. I utter words. For example, while having my ouzo and listening to music I am most likely capable of randomly shouting ‘Electricity!’” (2002, 138)), the poet never gives in to the double affirmation that would eventually risk the “element of pleasure in discourse.” (2002, 80)” It is exactly because the gap of the antinomies is so vast that poetry is not meant to be written with a hammer. Neither does writing consist in a reevaluation of those elements. In short, poetry is not an affirmation of difference, but the surprising beauty of chiming antinomies. We might never transcend them, but it is up to us to put them together. Yet again, this voisinage is not to be identified with the necessity of chance as an eternal return.4 On the contrary it is a return from that very return : Let us treat Yes as a No to No and No as a Yes […] And let us not forget that this pissed affirmation crumbled down Nietzsche’s intellect in the dark paths of this world. (2002, 88) This return from the “vicious circle” should in no way be taken as a form of artistic prudence. Rather it can be seen as a dribble of demonic inconsistency as Dionysus transforms himself into a Christ that is in turn de-theologized: “Who can forbid that? Every man is capable of his own theology, nothing can stop him.” (2002, 73-74) This is a turn towards an existential vision of the world, historically coinciding with a particular political defeat of the Left, to which the poet devoted all his life: after the defeat of the popular front I raised the question “why do we exist?” while others were asking “why we failed.” (2002, 57)5 But most of all it is a return to poetry that exceeds the existential question itself, going beyond the issue of faith. Poetry comes in as a question of return after a defeat that is confessed in full profanity. Though it accepts the necessity of the defeat, it does not affirm it. Though it negates it, the negation is not in the name of a promise to be delivered in the kingdom of heavens. Following a historical and existential defeat, poetry is born post mortem . It signals a return to Christ as “groundless religiousness in the surprise of the real as such” (2002, 72) which is at once a return to the refuge of childhood. It is not a question of endurance towards an eternal return. Rather it is a question on the possibility of an existential return. Returning in a world as someone who cannot enjoy any returns exactly because he is averse to guarantees. A return without returns. *** PHOTOCOPY OF HAPPINESS When I was young I used to pin down cicadas and step on ant nests. I used to stand there silent for hours. With threads I decapitated bees. Now I am a dead man breathing. (Karouzos, 1993, II, 336.) The return to the “paradise of childhood” (2002, 68) constitutes the devouring refuge of its own memory when defeat becomes the synonym of adulthood. The political struggles of a young communist in a country torn up by a civil war right after World War II fraught with incarcerations and exiles. Historically they resulted in the defeat of the communist movement in Greece and opened up a long turbulent road that would peak in the dictatorship of 1967. Existentially they led to a series of disillusionments: mental breakdown, divorce, abandonment of studies in law school. To the question “why do we exist” the answer was poetry. Still this exposé should not be read as a sweeping chronography of a man. For it actually happens to coincide with the historical fate of a nation that after its modern constitution never stopped dreaming of the glories of its past youth, in a present that was (and is) sweepingly disappointing. But isn’t this return to youth finally a way of compensating for a loss of youth that necessarily results in a losing adulthood? Will Greeks, the eternal children of Plato and Nietzsche, ever learn? How to return without dying, how to remember without wasting time? WE ARE IN THE OPEN MEANING Living the coldest mauve night right across Parthenon I went to take a piss on some foliage and I was enjoying the foliage as it was steaming. (Karouzos, 1993, II, 340) Beyond the historical tragedies of modern Greece and away from any personal disappointments, the relation that this land holds with language and history is mediated through the Greek light—whose omnipresence is the very condition of its transcendence. All historical contradictions from Dionysus to Christ took place under this light; all those disseminated dialects were spoken beneath its warmth. To paraphrase Lévinas,6 light is both the condition of the world and of our withdrawal from it—a withdrawal towards the invisibility of God, of the dead, of meta-physics, resulting from the temptation that all is still here, behind this light the visibility of which they once evaded: “birds, the allurement of God.” (1993, I, 17) Under that luminous sky, if Greeks can do anything at all, it is to envision a return that will never come. All they can do is write poetry—which is doing nothing; other than lending an ear to a disseminated language whispering a unity that cannot be promised, as an adulthood in defeat is ready to recognize. Trying “to trap the invisible in visibility” (1993, II, 483) they forget that they have grown up and one day they die—with the promise of return. Hence an additional meaning must be given to this return to childhood. It does not signal salvation but rather its promise. To the ears of an aged continent it means that the return to/of poetry is a losing game, a return without returns. “Europe, Europe… you are nothing more than the continuation of Barabbas.” (1993, I, 295) *** “Life is not there to verify theories.”7 The records show that Karouzos was finally given a second-class pension from the Greek government, at the time when he was being recognized by the literary press as one of Greece’s major contemporary poets. Being neither a bourgeois nor a nobelist, he proclaimed himself to be an anarcho-communist, unconditionally faithful to the utopia of a classless society. He also drank, heavily. “Capitalism made an animal out of man/ Marxism made an animal out of truth/ Shut up.” (1993, II, 369) Perhaps one of the most scandalous divides of our times has been the one between the living and the dead, the latent prohibition that the living should not be concerned with the dead based on the mere impossibility of the dead to be concerned with the living in the first place. What adds to this scandal is that this divide abuses anything that cannot return to us by subsuming it under the same futility. Hence death is no longer “loss” in the usual sense. It no more refers to the things we lost but to our “loss” (of time, money and well-being) as we insist to dwell on them. Death is a waste —of time. It is this waste that we find in the insouciance of Greek expenditure; the waste in dealing with a language that most of its historical part is no longer spoken (a dead language); the waste in translating a poet who is ex definitio untranslatable; the waste of his vision, his money, his life. The waste of dealing with anything that cannot return and that cannot bring in any returns . But it is also the waste of life that poetry itself presupposes, the waste of dealing with invisibility, with anything that is out of this world and thus invokes the fear of death that is in turn—and surprisingly— nowhere to be found. Instead of death, what is there, beyond the light, is the being without us (to recall the Lévinasian il y a ), the mumble of our own nothingness which constitutes the price to be paid for writing poetry under an evergreek light. To understand this to-and-fro, is to realize that poetry is something out of this world that nevertheless takes place in this world, by virtue of this world. But to ridiculously equate this to-and-fro with death as non-existence, is to exile poetry along with its own possibility from this same old world: I do not believe that poetry will ever disappear from this world. […] But I am also sure that it does not have many chances of playing, as you say, a redemptive role in our vertiginous technological future. Without being endangered as a creative need, it will be placed on the side of history. (2002, 32) It is mainly there that we would like to locate the meaning of Nikos Karouzos’s poetry today. If we are willing to include the Greek original it is because we consider that it will be both a waste of time for us to do so (since most of you cannot read Greek) and because it might induce you to the even larger waste of learning it. We would additionally be glad if this small introduction served as an equally wasteful, academically useless piece of reading, gesturing towards a taboo of investing in anything Greek—that is in anything dead among the living, in anything that will never come back and maybe was never here in the first place. This is the only way to reserve for ourselves the possibility of poetry and preserve the light of its promise. “To return: that is the miracle.” (1993, I, 17) Athens, Greece July 10, 2011 NOTES 1 “ Capitale (a Late Latin word based on caput “head”) emerged in the twelfth to thirteenth centuries in the sense of funds, stock of merchandise, sum of money or money carrying interest.[…] The word and the reality it stood for appear in the sermons of St. Bernardino of Siena (1380-1444) ‘… quamdam seminalem rationem lucrosi quam communiter capitale vocamus ’, ‘that prolific cause of wealth that we commonly call capital’” (Braudel, 1992, 232-233). 2 “A great man – a man whom nature has constructed and invented in the grand style – what is he? First : there is a long logic in all of his activity, hard to survey because of its length, and consequently misleading; he has the ability to extend his will across great stretches of his life and to despise and reject everything petty about him, including even the fairest, ‘divinest’ things in the world.” (Nietzsche, 1968, 505, §962) 3 Cf. Deleuze, 1986, 186-9. 4 “Return is the being of becoming, the unity of multiplicity, the necessity of chance: the being of difference as such or the eternal return.” (Deleuze, 189)5 In this 1982 interview Karouzos refers to the defeat of the communist movement in Greece after the civil war of 1946-1949 between the Governmental Army and the Democratic Army of Greece, the military division of the Greek communist party. Karouzos’s father was a member of the communist National Liberation front (EAM) members of which formed the mainl resistance movement (ELAS) in Greece during WWII. The poet was a member of the United Panhellenic Organization of Youth (EPON), which was a youth division of EAM. After the end of the war, ELAS was called to disarmament in view of the formation of a National Army. The members of EAM resigned from the government of national unity and a series of protests led to a 3 year civil war between ELAS and the Government Army. After the defeat of ELAS the Communist party was outlawed and many communists were exiled in deserted Greek islands. Karouzos, who took action in the Greek resistance and was active during the Greek civil war, was exiled in Icaria on 1947 and in Makronisos on 1953 where he was called two years earlier to do his military service. 6 “Existence in the world qua light, which makes desire possible, is then, in the midst of being, the possibility of detaching oneself from being. To enter into being is to link up with objects; it is in effect a bond that is already tainted with nullity. It is already to escape anonymity. In this world where everything seems to affirm our solidarity with the totality of existence, where we are caught up in the gears of a universal mechanism, our first feeling, our ineradicable illusion, is a feeling or illusion of freedom. To be in the world is this hesitation, this interval in existing, which we have seen in the analyses of fatigue and the present.” (Lévinas, 1988,43-4) 7from a TV interview. THE POETRY OF NIKOS KAROUZOS From Redwriter [ Ερυθρογρ?φος ], in Collected Works, Vol . II, Athens: Ikaros. 1993, 463-4. [Athens: Apopeira, 1990, 9-10.] JESUS ANTI-OEDIPUS* Why were we once saving till the fifth day the Paschal lamb? The scriptures say: with this victim’s meat we ought to cleanse all of our senses. To give life to the whitest wave miraculous odors in the extension of the chest. Ideals to death. For us to witness the illustrious dawns of Absinthe and for the soul to be a deeply carved ornament on the fore we named will. Then many deer running amidst the evergreen growth with watery hymns, then, the unintended angels descending with heights spiraling in their momentum offer themselves to the luminous Adventure. Whence the need for speech and our sufferings covered with flags like the glorified dead. An incorporeal finger pointing at the flamboyant and fragrant holocausts within the tired horizons and the exhausted breadths with joys of the mistletoe on fire and shivering all of the green-leaved love. Something would have chirped again had we not driven it away— maybe the ewe’s grass. Something would have called us to the eternal resurrection— maybe the grace of spring. But now our heart is fiercely blinded, withdrawn to the appearances of Hades. Silence and ice incessantly cover the Infant Spirit in thatched times. While the cherry trees are dreaming faintly glowing in absolute darkness there’s nothing the Babylonians can contemplate in labs with automatic colored lights. How to rejoice now in the fifth day of the lamb? We have forked the stars. We’ve gradually become supposedly sublime with plucked chimeras in our hands. Avenged relentlessly by science. *Though the poem appears in a 1990 collection, it was actually written in 1968. Hence the reader must be aware in not associating Karouzos’ Anti-Oedipus with the famous 1972 work of Deleuze and Guattari, given that the former precedes the latter. ΙΗΣΟΥΣ ΑΝΤΙ-ΟΙΔΙΠΟΥΣ Γιατ? κρατο?σαμε κ?ποτε ?ς την π?μπτη μ?ρα το πασχαλιν? πρ?βατο; Τα κε?μενα λ?νε: μ’ αυτο? του θ?ματος το κρ?ας ?πρεπε να καθαρ?σουμε ?λες τις αισθ?σεις. Για να δ?σουμε κ?μα στη ζω? λευκ?τατο θαυμ?σιες ευωδι?ς στην ?κταση του στ?θους. Ιδανικ? στο χ?ρο. Για να βλ?πουμε τα λαμπρ? χαρ?ματα του ?ψινθου και να ’ναι η ψυχ? στ?λισμα βαθυχ?ρακτο της πλ?ρης που την ε?παμε θ?ληση. Τ?τε πολλ?ς δορκ?δες τρ?χοντας αν?μεσα στην καταπρ?σινη φ?ση με τους υδ?τινους ?μνους, τ?τε, κατεβα?νοντας οι αθ?λητοι ?γγελοι με κυλινδο?μενο το ?ψος στην ορμ? τους χαρ?ζονται της αστραφτερ?ς Περιπ?τειας. ?θεν η μιλι? γι’ αυτ? χρει?ζεται και τα δειν? σκεπ?ζονται ωσ?ν τους τιμημ?νους νεκρο?ς με σημα?ες. Ασ?ματο δ?χτυλο δε?χνει τα φλογ?δη και μοσχοβ?λα ολοκαυτ?ματα στους κουρασμ?νους ορ?ζοντες στα εξουθενωμ?να πλ?τη καθ?ς αν?βουν οι χαρ?ς του νερα?δ?ξυλου και τρ?μει ολ?κληρη η πρασιν?φυλλη αγ?πη. Κ?τι θα κελαηδο?σε π?λι αν δεν το δι?χναμε— μπορε? της προβατ?νας το χορτ?ρι. Κ?τι θα μας καλο?σε στην απ?ραντη αν?σταση— μπορε? του ?αρος η χ?ρη. Μα η καρδι? μας ?γρια τυφλ?θηκε π?ρασε στα φαιν?μενα του ?δη. Σιγ? και π?γος αδι?κοπα σκεπ?ζει στους αχυρ?νιους καιρο?ς το Ν?πιο Πνε?μα. Την ?ρα που ονειρε?ονται οι βυσσινι?ς και λ?μπουν αμυδρ? μεσ’ στο απλ?τατο σκοτ?δι τ?ποτα δε στοχ?ζονται οι βαβυλ?νιοι στα εργαστ?ρια με τ’ αυτ?ματα χρωματιστ? φ?τα. Π?ς να χαρο?με πια την π?μπτη μ?ρα του προβ?του; Φουρκ?σαμε τ’ αστ?ρια. Γ?ναμε σιγ?-σιγ? δ?θεν υπ?ροχοι με μαδημ?νες χ?μαιρες στα χ?ρια. Μας ν?μεται σκληρ? η επιστ?μη. From: Redwriter [Ερυθρογρ?φος], in Collected Works, Vol. II, Athens: Ikaros. 1993, 472. [Athens: Apopeira, 1990, 18.] DIALECTΙCS OF SPRING Christ the straight angle; Christ the Pythagorean theorem. Christ the infinitesimal calculus from above the blessed Sets Christ. Christ the tessellation of massive particles Christ the zero mass. Hence we spray numbers and fields of lust. We are carabineers of diseased logic plus something— Observed means observer and Hekate The darkness luminous and light in the dark Astarte banqueters demons from today. ΔΙΑΛΕΚΤΙΚΗ ΤΟΥ ΕΑΡΟΣ Χριστ?ς η ορθ? γων?α· Χριστ?ς το πυθαγ?ριο θε?ρημα. Χριστ?ς ο απειροστικ?ς λογισμ?ς ?νωθεν ?λβια Χριστ?ς τα Σ?νολα. Χριστ?ς η ψηφιδογραφ?α στα μαζικ? σωμ?τια Χριστ?ς η μ?ζα μηδ?ν. ?ρα ψεκ?ζουμε αριθμο?ς και πεδ?α λαγνε?ας. Ε?μαστε τυφεκιοφ?ροι νοσο?σης λογικ?ς και κ?τι-- παρατηρο?μενο σημα?νει παρατηρητ?ς και Εκ?τη σκ?τος το π?μφωτο και φως εν τ? σκοτ?? η Αστ?ρτη συνδαιτημ?νες δα?μονες απ’ ?ρτι. From: Redwriter [Ερυθρογρ?φος], Athens: Apopeira, 1990, 18. [1993, II, 472]. CREDO (as we are used to say in Latin) Α I believe in one Poet expelled from heavens / fugitive from the god and vagabond, Empedocles / and here on earth / exile on the earth etc. of Baudelaire /. Β I believe in one Computer inside thunder and through matter. Γ Suffering undefiled / substantive / the Poet uplifts himself slow-burning suicidal implying lengthy sleeps. Δ Cutting down on prospective mistakes. Ε Of all things visible and invisible officiating the onion-peelings. Ζ The Poet has nothing / see the departed /. Η I believe in one Poet that says: madness I enjoy; he ridicules existence; let me light up from my mana. Θ Syntax he doesn’t care about when musicality commands him. Along with still more licenses, and Ts are played according to the concept sound anywhere. E.g. the winters here, he winters there; it will not come—I will not rest, etc. etc. Ι The Poet exercises thought until it’s stripped down. Κ And if he’s Greek he must always study the fineness of Attica, in light, mountains, fields and sea. For this fineness teaches language. Λ And if he’s deeply destined the Poet expresses the unexplainable of the explained; he happens to be a rightful heir to the scientist and his predecessor. Μ On the froth he does not last; the Poet blusters at the bottom of the pot. Ν Flamebred and never redeemed. Ξ The Poet must sometimes say: what a consumption of presence — be a bit lonely for a change! Ο The Poet is twilit. Π He is susceptible of deaths and resurrections. Ρ He looks from the corner of his eye and exists in a glance. Σ He follows behind the mother. Τ Eveningless when it comes to age. Υ I believe in one Poet who says: let the purities coincide. Until the Corinth of the Universe or even further. Φ In a higher despair. Χ In a brighter quintessence. Ψ In one sensation that lifts off. Ω Forgiving everyone. CREDO (ως ε?θισται να λ?με λατινιστ?) Α Πιστε?ω εις ?να Ποιητ?ν εκτ?ς ουρανο? / φυγ?ς θε?θεν και αλ?της, Εμπεδοκλ?ς / και επ? της γης / εξ?ριστος π?νω στη γη κ.λπ. του Βωδελα?ρου /. Β Πιστε?ω εις ?να Υπολογιστ?ν εντ?ς κεραυνο? και δια της ?λης. Γ Υποφ?ροντας ?χραντα / ουσιαστικ?ν / ο Ποιητ?ς ανατε?νεται βραδυφλεγ?ς αυτ?χειρας εξυπακο?οντας πολ?ωρους ?πνους. Δ Τα υποψ?φια λ?θη λιγοστε?οντας. Ε Ορατ?ν τε π?ντων και αορ?των ιερουργ?ντας την αποκρομμ?ωση. Ζ Ο Ποιτ?ς ?χει τ?ποτα / βλ?πε τους αναχωρ?σαντες /. Η Πιστε?ω εις ?να Ποιητ?ν που λ?ει: η τρ?λα μ’ αρ?σει· γελοιοποιε? την ?παρξη· ας αν?ψω απ’ τη μ?να μου. Θ Συνταχτικ? δεν το γνοι?ζεται στην προσταγ? της μουσικ?τητας. Μαζ? και μ’ ?λλες ακ?μη λευτερι?ς, και τα νυ πα?ζονται κατ? την ?ννοια ?χος οπουδ?ποτε. Π.χ. τον χειμ?να εδ?, το χειμ?να εκε?· δε θ? ’ρθει – δεν θα καταλαγι?σουμε, κ. λπ. κ.λπ. Ι Ο Ποιητ?ς γυμν?ζει τη σκ?ψη σε απογ?μνωση. Κ Κι αν ε?ναι ?λληνας οφε?λει να σπουδ?ζει π?ντοτε της Αττικ?ς τη λεπτ?τητα, σε φως, βουν?, χωρ?φια και θ?λασσα. Διδ?σκει γλ?σσα η λεπτ?τητα το?τη. Λ Κι αν ε?ναι βαθι? πεπρωμ?νος ο Ποιητ?ς εκφρ?ζει το ανεξ?γητο του εξηγητο?· τυγχ?νει ν?μιμος δι?δοχος του επιστ?μονα και προκ?τοχ?ς του. Μ Στον αφρ? δεν ?χει δι?ρκεια· στο πατοκ?ζανο μα?νεται ο Ποιητ?ς. Ν Φλογοδ?αιτος και ποτ? ξελυτρωμ?νος. Ξ Ο Ποιητ?ς κ?ποτε πρ?πει να λ?ει: μεγ?λη καταν?λωση παρουσ?ας – γενε?τε και λ?γο μοναξι?ρηδες! Ο Ο Ποιητ?ς ε?ναι αμφ?φλοξ. Π Επιδ?χεται θαν?τους και αναστ?σεις. Ρ Ακροθωρ?ζει και υπ?ρχει σε ξαφνοκο?ταγμα. Σ Ε?ναι ουραγ?ς της μητ?ρας. Τ Αν?σπερος απ? ηλικ?α. Υ Πιστε?ω εις ?να Ποιητ?ν που λ?ει: να συμπ?σουν οι αγν?τητες. Μ?χρι την Κ?ρινθο του Σ?μπαντος ? μακρ?τερα. Φ Σε αν?τερη απελπισ?α. Χ Σε φαειν?τερη πεμπτουσ?α. Ψ Σε μια α?σθηση που πτηνο?ται. Ω Συγχωρ?ντας τους π?ντες. From Large Sized Logic [ Λογικ? μεγ?λου σχ?ματος ], Athens: Erato, 1989, n.p. [1993, II, 521-3]. (shrink)
The marginality of poetry in American culture has been taken for granted at least since the dawn of the modernist period, when Walt Whitman printed his first volume of poetry at his own expense. More recently, it has become an article of faith that there is a real popular audience for poetry, but somewhere else-in the East. Literary journals, the popular press, and publishers have made household names of a handful of Eastern European writers: Czeslaw Milosz, (...) Joseph Brodsky, Zbigniew Herbert. One is regaled with chestnuts about ordinary people in the Eastern bloc who care about "the Word," manuscripts passed from hand to hand, even poems preserved orally. Inevitably, the questions are revived: Where are the great American poets? Has American poetry been reduced to private confessions and personal trivia? Why is it that our poetry lacks that public, political relevance? The answer to such questions is often that we do not have the weight of History on our backs, the state oppression under which, as Milosz says, "poetry is no longer alienated," no longer "a foreigner in society," and can become more important than bread.1 But what has not surfaced in the vaunted "poetry and politics" debate is the extent to which our homage to victims of censorship everywhere has become a fetishization of totalitarianism, and a self-serving one at that. The mythology of our freedom, unbounded and unmediated, depends precisely on this other world, on what happens over there. 1. Czeslaw Milosz, The Witness of Poetry , p. 95; hereafter abbreviated WP. Bruce F. Murphy's work has appeared in the Paris Review, Pequod, and An Gael. He has completed a manuscript of poems and with Friedrich Ulfers is writing a study of Friedrich Nietzsche. (shrink)
Osip Mandel'štam belongs among the greatest Russian poets of the twentieth century. During the thirties, when he led a tragic existence and felt a premonition of his inevitable violent death, Mandel'štam saw in Dante not only the greatest poet, but also his own superior teacher, and his poems of that period contain a tormented meditation on the masterpiece of Dante's genius -- the "Divine Comedy". Epic poetry of Dante, Homer, Virgil and others was possible because the inner world of (...) each poet was essentially at one with the ethos of the society in which he lived. Mandel'štam's inner world was Judaeo-Christian, European, and rooted in classical and neo-Platonic philosophy, but his outer world, consisting of a new Marxist or pseudo-Marxist system, was totally at odds with it. Thus Mandel'štam could not embody the epic impulse of the society he opposed. He was left with the tormented lyric impulse. The fundamental conflict between Mandel'štam as a lyric poet and the society in which he had to live and work accounts for the fact that his vision of Stalinist society in a number of respects remarkably corresponds to Dante's vision of a perverted divine order in the Inferno. (shrink)
Poetry doesn't write about what it writes about. Critics may now agree that this tends to be so, but why? Is it, as here argued, inherently so because of poetry's two or more rhythm-levels? Or is it, as many "explicating" critics imply, noninherently and only recently so because of the two or more diction-levels of the symbolist heritage? If the answer to the latter question is no, then the explicators have brought us to a blind alley by being (...) oversubtle about the ambiguities and ambivalences of diction and undersubtle about those of rhythm. The fact that good prose also has two rhythm-levels is not to the point. The tension between two irregular rhythms, as in prose, is simply not the same as that between one irregularity and one formal, traditionally shared regularity in poetry. The half-conscious uncovering of rhythm's hidden language helps explain an ancient truth: unlike a prose essay, a tragic poem or a tragic verse-play may leave the reader feeling exalted while an exalting love poem may leave him mournful. The explanation is not some miraculous "transcending" of tragedy and of the human condition but the uncovering of a palimpsest layer. What will be needed, from now on, are not generalizations but precise trochee-by-iamb-by-spondee analyses of why the relevant passages in King Lear, for example, achieve tragic joy by means of the joy-connoting rhythms beneath the somber words. While translating certain German and Russian poets of our century, I am also making a parallel analysis in parallel languages. My conclusion: the future translator should consult his dictionary less and his ear more . Poets, then, are not our Shelleyan "unacknowledged legislators" but our unacknowledged kinaesthesia. Peter Viereck, professor of European and Russian history at Mount Holyoke College, received the Pulitzer Prize for his book of poems, Terror and Decorum ; this and his Conservatism Revisited and The Unadjusted Man have recently been reprinted by Greenwood Press. In a slightly revised version, "Strict Form in Poetry" appears as the appendix in his book of poems, Applewood, for which he has been awarded a fellowship by the Artists Foundation. See also: "On the Measure of Poetry" by Howard Nemerov in Vol. 6, No. 2. (shrink)
At the center of_ In Dark Again in Wonder_ are readings of René Char and George Oppen. Both of these poets achieved recognition at a young age, Char among the French surrealists in the 1930s, Oppen among the American objectivists in the same decade. Both were independent individuals who, having found their way to communities of inventive writers, stepped back and shaped their own idiosyncratic paths. Both responded decisively to the social upheavals of the 1930s and ‘40s. Oppen committed himself (...) to radical politics in the ‘30s, a decision that, as it turned out, led to his not writing poetry for nearly twenty-five years. Char fought in the Resistance in the '40s. Both, in their mature work, developed a kind of poetry that is at once a love poetry, a meditative poetry, and a poetry of encounter. The concluding chapter of the book places the questions raised by Char’s and Oppen’s work in a larger context, tracing the cultural history that shapes our modern experience of inhabiting a tension between an historical and a metaphysical horizon of experience, or, as this appears in a different but related light, a tension between a sociological and an existential understanding of our lives. Char and Oppen are both poets concerned with the old philosophical questions that are still with us—the nature of spiritual freedom, the gathering of the self in relation to death, the meditation on the whole, the turn to Nature as the open space of the whole under the conditions of modernity, the clarification of the ground of vision in eros and love, and the search for the good life—while at the same time they fully engage the social predicaments and promises of their world. "A brilliant, philosophical, and aesthetic approach to twentieth-century poetry that casts important light on the great poetic works of René Char and George Oppen. Revealing the ongoing role of wonder in the post-Romantic tradition, it points to two remarkable poets whose work embodies imagination in the knowledge of inevitable loss, renewal in the awareness of despair. This is a book worth reading for its insight into two poets and the larger literary and philosophical currents in which they lived and worked." _—Sandra L. Bermann, Princeton University_ "This is a brilliant, erudite, beautifully written, and compelling book, one that makes an important contribution to our understanding not only of the two poets on whom it focuses but of the period they inhabit and that we, as their inheritors, continue to inhabit. Robert Baker wears his considerable learning lightly, but he has deep knowledge both of the history of European and American poetry and of the history of philosophy. He has thought deeply and passionately about poetry, philosophy, history, and the ways in which they intertwine." —_Henry Weinfield, University of Notre Dame_ "Robert Baker has written a fine and unusual book: a study of two remarkable poets, one French and the other American, and a concluding reflection of considerable literary and intellectual reach on the gap between history and metaphysics in which both poets found themselves and in which we still subsist. Bake'rs style is synthetic, magisterial, drawing on a capacious knowledge of literature and the history of ideas." —_Kevin Hart, University of Virginia_. (shrink)
In Reflexivity and the Crisis of Western Reason Barry Sandywell outlined and defended a central place for reflexivity in the human sciences. In this second equally outstanding and challenging volume of Logological Investigations, he reconstructs the origins of "European" reflection. The author's central claim is that the world does not exist independently of us, but that it is constituted through the terms of our discursive categories. Rather than research being a triumphant exploration, it is more fully understood as agonized (...) self-reflection on the grounds of knowledge production. Sandywell argues that this approach has been inherent throughout Western philosophy and in so doing, he shows that the reflexive character of human experience in Western Culture can be traced through the desire for intelligibility that animated Greek drama, poetry, philosophy and science as explorations of the cosmos, body-politics and the soul. (shrink)
James H. Donelan describes how two poets, a philosopher, and a composer - Hölderlin, Wordsworth, Hegel, and Beethoven - developed an idea of self-consciousness based on music at the turn of the nineteenth century. This idea became an enduring cultural belief: the understanding of music as an ideal representation of the autonomous creative mind. Against a background of political and cultural upheaval, these four major figures - all born in 1770 - developed this idea in both metaphorical and actual musical (...) structures, thereby establishing both the theory and the practice of asserting self-identity in music. Beethoven still carries the image of the heroic composer today; this book describes how it originated in both his music and in how others responded to him. Bringing together the fields of philosophy, musicology, and literary criticism, Donelan shows how this development emerged from the complex changes in European cultural life taking place between 1795 and 1831. (shrink)
At the heart of the relationship between philosophy and poetry, and of the philosophical and the literary tout court, is the relationship between poetry and prose. In the increasingly influential work of Giorgio Agamben, whose impact continues to grow across a wide range of disciplines, the relationship between philosophy and poetry, poetry and prose, receives renewed attention and significance. Situating Agamben's philosophical, poetic prose in relation to the legacy of the prose poem from Charles Baudelaire through (...) Walter Benjamin and Rosmarie Waldrop, ?Philosophy, Poetry, Parataxis? explores the implications of what Agamben calls ?whatever being? or ?whatever singularity? for our understanding of the potentialities inherent in the relationship between contemporary writing practices and what Agamben calls The Coming Community. In contributing to the development of innovative, alternative forms of textuality at once ?philosophical? and ?poetic,? contemporary writers such as Agamben and Waldrop share an understanding of the informing role of parataxis in inflecting philosophy and poetry, poetry and prose, toward what we might call an aesthetics and politics of apposition. (shrink)
In this overview of twentieth-century American poetry, Jennifer Ashton examines the relationship between modernist and postmodernist American poetics. Ashton moves between the iconic figures of American modernism - Stein, Williams, Pound - and developments in contemporary American poetry to show how contemporary poetics, specially the school known as language poetry, have attempted to redefine the modernist legacy. She explores the complex currents of poetic and intellectual interest that connect contemporary poets with their modernist forebears. The works..
In Mandel'tam's writing, artistic creativity is described as based on the indispensable yet contradictory modes of compliance and deviation. The artist, by his artistic nature, must be an obedient disciple to the tradition that inspires him, and, at the same time, a violator who renders what inspires him in an individual form. Thus, art implies iterability through novelty. In the totalitarian state, this double nature of art acquires a sinister context and brings the artist to an unavoidable conflict with the (...) state. He has a choice between a servile compliance with the state's command and artistic independence. If the artist complies, he loses his ingenuity; if, on the other hand, he has the courage to break away from the established order, his fate is martyrdom. The criteria of truth and falsehood, the issue of loyalty, of compromise and collaboration or resistance become most relevant. Such words as outcast or non-contemporary acquire the meaning of non-collaborationist or enemy of the people. In the totalitarian state a genuine artist is viewed as a law-breaker, and his art leads him to crime. The notions of compliance and deviation cease being merely aesthetic terms and assume in Mandel'tam's poetry complex, subtle and tragic overtones. (shrink)
Osip Mandel''tam (1891–1938?) belongs among the greatest Russian poets of the twentieth century. During the thirties, when he led a tragic existence and felt a premonition of his inevitable violent death, Mandel''tam saw in Dante not only the greatest poet, but also his own superior teacher, and his poems of that period contain a tormented meditation on the masterpiece of Dante''s genius — theDivine Comedy.Epic poetry of Dante, Homer, Virgil and others was possible because the inner world of each (...) poet was essentially at one with the ethos of the society in which he lived. (shrink)
The author seeks here to link Havel’s well-known dramatic output with his visual poetry, which is far less known. The notion of the double bind, the author argues, is a predominant trope of Havel’s oeuvre. By applying Grelling’s paradox to Havel’s visual texts, the author illustrates the techniques Havel uses to produce logograms whose visual representation contradicts the verbal message conveyed by them.
This paper seeks to indicate some connections between a major philosophi- cal project of the seventeenth century, the conception of a mathesis universalis, and the practice of baroque poetry. I shall argue that these connections consist in a peculiar view of language and systems of notation which was particularly common in European baroque culture and which provided the necessary conceptual background for both poetry and the mathesis universalis.
This essay derives its focus on poetry from the subtitle of Die Fröhliche Wissenschaft: “la gaya scienza.” Nietzsche appropriated this phrase from the phrase “gai saber” used by the Provençal knight-poets (or troubadours) of the eleventh through thirteenth centuries — the first lyric poets of the European languages — to designate their Ars Poetica or “art of poetry.” I will begin with an exploration of Nietzsche’s treatment of poets and poetry as a subject matter, closely analyzing (...) his six aphorisms which deal explicitly with poets and poetry. Having considered The Gay Science as a text about poetry, I will then briefly explore three further ways in which The Gay Science can be thought of as itself a kind of poetry. The result of these analyses is an understanding of Nietzsche’s own understanding of philosophy (and of the best way to live) as also a form of poetry. (shrink)
ABSTRACTShelley’s “Letter to Maria Gisborne” is a playful improvisational verse epistle, widely praised for its urbanity and its display of the poet’s invention. The verses turn on a catalogue of the collection of odd scientific and mechanical objects that Shelley found scattered around him in the place he composed the letter, the Livorno workshop of Gisborne’s son, a young engineer who was building a new-model steamboat at the time. In the context of that space, the poem reads as a response (...) to competing notions of invention. For Shelley, the engineer’s workshop is an attractive alternative to the poet’s tower—which was uncomfortably close to a Grub Street garret. Verbal and visual images of poets’ and scientists’ workshops, from Hogarth and Mary Robinson, to Joseph Wright of Derby and Frankenstein, illustrate the tensions embodied in the physical location and poetic performance of Shelley’s celebrated “Letter.”. (shrink)
The life and career of the Soviet scholar of myth and religion Izrail' Grigor'evic Frank -Kamenetskij is discussed, tracing his development from a scholar working exclusively on semitology to a theorist of myth and literature. The scholar's relationship to German philosophy and Biblical scholarship is outlined, along with his relationship to Soviet scholarship of the 1920s and 1930s. The development of the scholar's work is related to his encounter with N. Ja. Marr in the early 1920s, and the way in (...) which Marr's doctrine underwent considerable revisions when subjected to German philosophy and applied to narrative material is detailed. Finally the way in which attention increasingly turned to the genesis of literary plots and poetic metaphor is discussed, along with both the influence such work exerted and the enduring value of such work today. (shrink)
This paper will explore the notion of ‘poetic enthusiasm’ in early 18th-century verse. The representation of poetic enthusiasm—the claim to false inspiration, and the fanaticism that was perceived to accompany it—was frequently politicized in this period. Through a conflation of religious and literary discourses, poetic enthusiasm was seen to represent the sae kind of anarchy in the realm of literature that the religious enthusiasm associated with Dissent did in the context of the established church. This paper will establish first of (...) all the way in which Tory and Royalist authors such as John Oldham, John Dryden, and Alexander pope used the established satirical caricature of the religious enthusiast to attack their Whig contemporaries. It will go on to suggest, however, that the relationship between politics and enthusiasm is more complex than this equation between Toryism and anti-enthusiasm suggests. While the Tory attack on literary enthusiasm was premised on an elision of political and literary codes, writers such as Dryden and Pope were also trying to separate out an exclusively poetic meaning for the term. Enthusiasm remained and unstable term because although writers recognized that its religious and political applications were different from its literary sense, they could not easily keep the two apart. (shrink)