Reading Paul Fry, A Defense of Poetry (1995). Out of or after the Yale School of literary Theory. Kind of fascinating - like trying to decipher foreign language.

Out of Geoffrey Hartman, Derrida, De Man, etc. - but on his own track. He seems to have invented a new interpretive tool or explanation for poetry called the "ostensive" - I'll have to check the etymology of that. The idea in a nutshell - as far as I can see blurredly for the moment - is that Criticism (Theory + Historicism) has deconstructed any "essential" reality of or function for literature - that is, it's all a kind of epiphenomena, really indistinguishable from other epiphenomena, predetermined by socio-historical forces at large. But Fry complicates this (it is a "defense" of poetry) with a new idea : that poetry - lyric poetry in particular - is actually a release from meaning, reference of any kind. It's a sort of tautological non-human substrate (sentient or non-sentient, I'm not sure yet - just started reading the book) - it is what it is, so to speak, and in so doing lets reality "be" what it is, whatever that is... He leans a lot on Wordsworth, Keats & other Romantics ("a slumber did my spirit steal..."; "music of no tone"; etc).

Much of this intellectual milieu - the arcane & ponderous philosophical assumptions & assertions about writing, history, reality etc. - I find pretty doubtful & unappealing. Have made a lot of fun of "Theory" over the years. But Fry's idea ("ostension") sparks my interest... that is I recognize certain affinities with, or new ways of reading, my own poetry themes & adventures.

I guess I'm behind the times, as usual - the book was published 12 yrs ago...

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