Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Poetry and Contingency

This morning, in need of some bathroom reading, I randomly selected an issue of the Chicago Review (49:2, Summer 2003) off the shelf & read Micheal Palmer's "Poetry and Contingency: Within a Timeless Moment of Barbaric Thought." The essay as a whole interweaves topics of poetry and post-9/11 American fascism. Interesting. Here are some worthwhile quotes about poetry:

"With no theory, no argument to speak of, and only that tentative knowing, that knowing of nothing, that the uncertain yet actual experiencing of poetry offers. Poetry, which includes the unspoken. Within a timeless moment of barbaric thought. Of what is and what returns; of memory and forgetting...As it happens, poetry has something to say about all of these things, the 'strange,' the 'familiar,' and of course 'time.'" (68-9)

"Poetry and catastrophe: we know that it, poetry, makes nothing happen; we also know, or trust, that it is something happening among other things happening. We know that it is something happening in language, and happening to language. For some its strangeness and estrangement represent catastrophe, and they would cast the poets out of the city." (70)

"Poetry is nothing if not a question, and then a book of questions. To which the answer is, perhaps, no more than another question. Poetry in that sense remains open, and without authority. Its authors, is there anything to say of them?" (71)

"All poetry is, of course, translation, a bearing across from one region to another, a crossing of borders, a conjoining of same with other. It is a voyage out of the self-same or self-identical or the self-satisfied into a fluid semantic and ontological field. That is, to translate is also to be translated, to commit to an act of becoming." (72)

"And yet we must acknowledge the poem's not so secret dream of an idea of order, a glimpse of a palm at the end of the mind, where contingency would be annihilated, perhaps by a throw of the dice." (76)

No comments: