By Oren Izenberg

"Because it's not that i am silent," George Oppen wrote, "the poems are bad." What does it suggest for the goodness of an artwork to depend on its disappearance? In Being quite a few, Oren Izenberg deals a brand new solution to comprehend the divisions that set up twentieth-century poetry. He argues that an important clash isn't really among kinds or aesthetic politics, yet among poets who search to maintain or produce the incommensurable particularity of expertise by way of making robust items, and poets whose radical dedication to summary personhood turns out altogether incompatible with experience--and with poems.

Reading around the obvious gulf that separates conventional and avant-garde poets, Izenberg finds the typical philosophical urgency that lies in the back of various kinds of poetic difficulty--from Yeats's esoteric symbolism and Oppen's minimalism and silence to O'Hara's cheerful slightness and the Language poets' rejection of conventional aesthetic satisfactions. For those poets, what starts as a pragmatic query in regards to the behavior of literary life--what distinguishes a poet or team of poets?--ends up as an ontological inquiry approximately social existence: what's an individual and the way is a neighborhood attainable? within the face of the violence and dislocation of the 20th century, those poets withstand their will to mastery, shrink back from the sensual richness in their most powerful paintings, and undermine the particularity in their imaginitive and ethical visions--all that allows you to enable personhood itself to turn out to be an incontrovertible fact making an unrefusable declare.

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Extra resources for Being Numerous: Poetry and the Ground of Social Life (20/21)

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Under Ben Bulben”) 43 Y E AT S I A N P E R S O N H O O D But this reading does not quite do justice to the syntax.

Pierce’s indexical signs—smoke is the index of fire—the real force of an indication sign for Husserl, as for Celan, is that it motivates our confidence in the existence of an intending mind. The sign is not a communication, but it tells. 72 It is here that the connection between “poetry” and what I have been calling “personhood” becomes more legible. If a poem is understood as an expression— which is to say, among other things, as an object that one must interpret, then the social relation that we are imagining taking place by means of poems is that of communication and, one hopes, understanding.

Though it appears at the end of the poem, the idea of an Atemkristall does not seem to be intended by the poem as a kind of insight, nor does it arise as an epiphanic leap— unforeseeable but justified—out of the progress of the poem’s composition. ” Considered temporally, this is to say that it pre-exists the human measures that a poem counts; considered spatially, we might say it is located outside or beneath the conceptual frame that the poem occupies or charts. Rather than standing as the endpoint of a “way” (wayward, penitent, imperfect, prone to misdirection or loss), or appearing as the emblem of a communicative channel opened between individuated subjects, the Atemkristall—though it never quite appears—is a kind of argument that there exist forces of attraction that draw all things together and that are (under ideal circumstances) irresistible and perfecting.

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