Literary reviews by Tim Love.
Warning: Rather than reviews, these are often notes in preparation for reviews that were never finished, or pleas for help with understanding pieces. See Litref Reviews - a rationale for details.

Monday, 17 February 2003

"Destructive Poetics" by P.A. Bove

Much of this was beyond me. I've always had trouble understanding Heidegger (who often appears in this book) and I can't get very excited anymore about destablizing the notion of self or language (it's a rather old book I suppose). I found it useful to see how New Criticism links in with other schools of theory. Here are some quotes about 'centers' to give you a flavour of the book

  • p.94 - "De man is aware of the refusal of Modern criticism to recognise the essential nothingness at the 'center' of all literature and he certainly reveals the weakness of any criticism which does not attempt to take the basic 'fact' of nothingness into account"
  • p.130 - "The concepts of beginning and end function, as Derrida argues, as 'centers' which are variations of the myth of presence" ... "By orienting and organizing the coherence of the system, the center of the structure permits the play of its elements inside the total form. ... the center also closes off the play which it opens up and makes possible", (from 'Writing and Difference', Derrida, p.278)
  • p.192 - "'The Snow Man' shows that all poems have nothingness at their center and that other poems and poets, unconscious of this, while delusively trying to name the center and thus to obscure the nothing of what is, always disclose the omnipresence of mere metaphor in poetry"
  • p.193 - "Stevens is willing to decenter even the most assuring myths of self, of the ability of poetry to reach some final position which will give it a unique value ... his poems engage the traditional metaphysical language of the dualistic imagination-reality conflict to destroy it ... to regain whatever is positive within the tradition."
  • p.212 - "critics who are disturbed by his seemingly contradictory ideas fail to see that they are victims of their own blindness, which makes non-contradiction and achieved harmonies privileged, centered positions based on what they think is 'presence'"

We're all going to die, but if our writing omits this fact it's not blindness. Similarly, though we know how unreliable language is, poets needn't write endlessly about the theme. We play tennis though we know that winning doesn't really matter because we're all going to die anyway, and besides the ball is "really" just a cluster of atoms (if that), and so are we.

No comments:

Post a Comment