Monday, August 25, 2003

A quote from an article/review of Bruce Andrews' Lip Service by Bob Perelman (read the whole thing here:
But making polysemy the definitive horizon of reading makes for a peculiar link between poetry and the world. It grants the writing project as a whole a locatable politics, while any single moment of writing is beyond specific statement. Any potential friction between the whole and a local phrase or passage is eliminated. It’s a convenient idealism.
This is part of the trouble I've sometimes had with Finnegans Wake and the ways in which we read it: any discussion of the "meaning" of a particular part of the text quickly collapses into the horizon of polysemy. Between the narrow skeleton of the "plot" that critics have more or less been able to agree upon (i.e., the chapter we've been reading deals with a children's game between Shem, Shaun, and a number of little girls with colored panties) and the larger world or horizon of the book's situation as an anarchic condensation of language and Irishness, the actual flesh is difficult to distinguish or at any rate to say anything meaningful about.

Can you tell I'm revving up for the semester? I'm getting excited about the assault I intend to my students' literary expectations, and hoping that I really can do something to help them become writers who are both more conscious of the social/political/economic context that they're inside of and more unconscious as well. That is, to open them to the unlimited possibilities that are revealed when you suspend the itch toward meaning long enough to let language find its own meanings. It's a dual education and I can at least make them aware of the importance, and the mutual dependence, of the two paths.

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