Monday, May 12, 2003

Wandering around in the tall grasses of theory. Trying to fit the most interesting pieces of Kristeva, Levinas, and Lacan (or maybe it would be more accurate to say: the pieces I think I understand) under the category of "pastoral" because I have an intuition about what the resulting framework might tell me about the strategies of some poets: Oppen, Zukofsky, Williams, Stein, Duncan, Creeley, Johnson. Who knows? I can't explain it to myself yet. This is what happens when I read a great synthesizing book like Jameson's Marxism and Form, it makes me feel like I understand everything in general even though I understand very little in particular. So I try to get particular. Slogging through Revolution in Poetic Language; I think I get the gist, but my God there's a lot of Husserlian and Chomskyan and psychonalytic jargon to hack through first. In a nutshell: Kristeva seems to think that poetic language is the root and ordinary forms of discourse are branches: communication is made possible not by what you posit but by what you lop off and suppress. When you trouble the procedures of ordinary discourse you have poetry, or at least the poetic impulse. Simple enough, right? Why does she have to go on about all those Greek words? At least transliterations are provided. Chora. Hyle.

Bought a new notebook for myself, a total indulgence at $9. It has a nifty black cover with a lizard-like texture and it's ruled with green lines. The green lines sold me. It's also a bit smaller than the usual 9 x 11 notebook size, which I like. And it's slim. Sometimes you have to let your inner aesthete have his head.

Like everyone else I'm being wowed by Barbara Guest's Forces of Imagination. I will definitely use some of this material in my creative writing class this fall. She makes me want to go read Mallarmé's essays but hey, what doesn't?

Also secretly regretting not purchasing a used copy of Wittgenstein's notes for the Tractacus—another book more read about than read, at least in my case.

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