Notes Toward & So Forth (4)

Robert Archambeau (post of 6/20) presents a version of historically-grounded poetic language. The idea of poetry being infiltrated by, or overlapping with, the "speech-acts" of history, which never really disappear - this seems related to what I was trying to describe as a (Joycean-Cranean) sense of the symbol grounded in experience.

Though again I wouldn't want to encourage another dichotomy, this time between sentimental poetry (Archambeau/Matthias' "travelogue") and realistic history. The problem is one of finding an adequate, authentic speech, capable of both representation ("history") and resonance (intelligible, emotive).

Such poetry can throw our functional, ordinary notions of time & history out of whack. What seemed past becomes present : ie., suddenly relevant, personal; illuminated, illuminating, from a new perspective.

We know that this kind of critical talk exists on a level of abstraction, and we are constantly aware of poets all over the place experimenting with styles & themes in distinct ways. But remember, for the last 20 years or so, "critical discourse" about literature & poetry has been propounding that history & experience are always trumped by the inherent paradoxes, contradictions, limitations and lacunae of text, language, subjectivity. There has been an obsessional focus on the supposed solipsism of textuality, the closed circle of hermeneutics, etc. Unfortunately, solipsism sponsored by theory - while it may show superficial stylistic differences - is not that different in substance from other kinds of literary solipsism (the anecdotal, personal, confessional lyric, so derided by language poets et al.).

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