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Wednesday, May 10, 2006

a question of poetics

what if (for the sake of argument) we make loss the condition of poetry? all work as elegy, the pain of the sign not being its signified, the erotics of this longing to be made manifest and one. (is this what we are seeing in Jenny Boully's "The Body" -- on its fundamental level?)


Blogger jason christie said...

Hi Jon,

Glad you'll be returning to us soon!

I think loss has been a fundamental condition of poetic concern since the Romantics. I once, long ago, at a university far, far away, wrote a paper about Wordsworth's Lucy poems focussing on how metaphor functioned as a device of loss. More recently, I've been thinking that metaphor is a perfect literary device to understand how advertising works. Loss has a complex relationship to the twentieth-century. I think that cinema, and this is something to which you can speak much more eloquenty than I, is an art preoccupied with loss. Representation, in any media, primarily functions at the point where an axis of delusion crosses with an axis of loss. We call this suspending disbelief (which is somewhat different than belief, yes...) Adorno however extends this to the people who write fan letters or send things like pants to the lone ranger (see his essay Schema of Mass Culture. I'm just starting to read Adorno and am fascinated by his ideas.) Representation depends upon something being referred to that is absent. Signs, as you rightly point out, work precisely because the signified is no longer present, or is not immediately present in the sign. The loss that this could be use to represent would be a loss of connection to a reality. Baudrillard takes Lacan and turns us on to the idea that reality is our system of referentiality as opposed to something to which we always refer. And I feel that the belief we are somehow distant, in language, from a reality is a bit fraught. I'm more inclined to read Lacan similarly to Baudrillard, that language is as much a part of reality as a tree. Kristeva really turns this into a politics tho with locating the moment of our culpability in maintaining an oppressive social system through our language system when she posits the thetic break as the point at which we cease to be of the world and instead learn to approximate it. The fact we do this isn't really the problem tho. I think it is the fact that we don't know we do this that is the problem. The second thetic break, the onset of grammar has been posited as a liberating event but I see it as further inculcating the subject because now the belief is that he or she is further removed from the world due to a facility with language that enables the world's representation in language. Deleuze and Guattari's thining goes a long way to put us back into the world, and to make language just one of many events occuring through which we access reality.

Sorry for the rambly post. It is an area I'm very curious about, loss and literature, and I wish I could do your post more justice. I'm ill however and have a fever... please excuse the babbling. I have a note from my doctor. ;)

At any rate, we'll see you soon! Safe trip back and all.

12:08 PM

Blogger Jonathan Ball said...

lots of interesting points, jason, i'd tend to agree with much of it, especially since i tend to agree with baudrillard on more than perhaps
i would like to. loss is definitely, i think, important to the cinematic image. saw an interesting documentary about these ideas
recently, i would recommend it, the film is called Berlin-Cinema (1999) and directed by Samira Gloor-Fadel. a very poetic look at the city and cinema and Wim Wenders' ideas concerning both, centring around silence and spaces. i just finished an essay on George Psalmanazar (look him up, he's fascinating) centering on his autobiographical writings and Baudrillard's notions of the simulacrum. which led me to consider that prosopopoeia is an interesting way in which the absented figure of the author begins to function as a sign, so that identity itself mirrors language in its functional relation to the world.

3:05 PM


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