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Archive for April 5th, 2006

biocentrism

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Serendipitously, while looking at something unconnected, I may have located the start of an answer to my issue from yesterday:

It is significant, I think, that “anthropomorphic” has no inverse, no opposite. There is no word, that is, for the attribution of inhuman characteristics to humans or humanity.

From Derek Attridge’s “Age of Bronze, State of Grace: Music and Dogs in Coetzee’s ‘Disgrace,” located here if you have access.

Coetzee’s novel has some affinities with what Margot Norris, in Beast of the Modern Imagination, terms the “biocentric” tradition in modern art: not that Coetzee creates animals in the manner of writers she discusses, “with their animality speaking” (1), but that his work like theirs (and like hers) tries to imagine a relation to animal life outside of the worthy but limited concept of what Norris calls “responsible stewardship” (24).

Attridge’s essay also appears here, if you’re interested. Have to get the Norris, now…

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April 5, 2006 at 4:23 pm

Posted in animal, coetzee

all that is solid melts into air

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A photo I took a few weeks ago, our first trip back to the old neighborhood.

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April 5, 2006 at 2:14 am

ache of modernism

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Two passages. The first from Hardy’s Tess of the D’Urbervilles:

“The trees have inquisitive eyes, haven’t they?–that is, seem as if they had. And the river says,–‘Why do ye trouble me with your looks?’ And you seem to see numbers of to-morrows just all in a line, the first of them the biggest and clearest, the others getting smaller and smaller as they stand farther away; but they all seem very fierce and cruel and as if they said, ‘I’m coming! Beware of me! Beware of me!’ … But YOU, sir, can raise up dreams with your music, and drive all such horrid fancies away!”

And the second from Woolf’s To the Lighthouse:

In spring the garden urns, casually filled with wind-blown plants, were gay as ever. Violets came and daffodils. But the stillness and the brightness of the day were as strange as the chaos and tumult of night, with the trees standing there, and the flowers standing there, looking before them, looking up, yet beholding nothing, eyeless, and so terrible.

Twin horrors of the modern period: the “horrid fancy” of human immanence within nature, and, on the other hand, the “terrible” realization of its cyclical continuance without human eyes to see it. In both cases, the horror is predicated on a strange conjunction of consciousness, unconsciousness, and time

It is significant, I think, that “anthropomorphic” has no inverse, no opposite. There is no word, that is, for the attribution of inhuman characteristics to humans or humanity.

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Written by adswithoutproducts

April 5, 2006 at 2:12 am

Posted in animal, consciousness, woolf

convolutes

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OK, so I’ve just spent an awfully long time messing with the categories on this site. No more generic typepad categories. And I’m going to take them seriously from now on.

This site, among other things, is a place where I drop thoughts about some projects I’m working on / going to work on / would love one day to work on. You can follow along with these projects, as they unfold, through the categories from here on out.

For instance, try out consciousness….

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April 5, 2006 at 1:33 am

Posted in meta

no hook

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From a Charles Bernstein appreciation of Barbara Guest, who died in February, in this month’s Bookforum. (The article’s not on-line, unfortunately):

In a period of American poetry in which the most visible, and indeed much of the very best, poetry has been written with hooks galore – whether outrageous or flamboyant or hip or morally uplifting, arrogant or agonized or transcendent – Guest used no hooks. This allowed her to create a textually saturated poetry that embodied the transient, the ephemeral, the flickering in translucent surfaces that we call painterly for lack of a better term to chart the refusal of pseudo-depth of field. It would be easy to dwell on the exquisite surface reflection in Guest’s work while eliding the significance of this insistently modulated diffusion and liminal warping and woofing.

Interesting passage. Two things stand out:

1) the list of “hooks,” which seems to come close to a full list (or at least a well stocked partial list, and one that could be expanded) of literary postures. To imagine a literature without outrage or flamboyance, without uplift, transcendence, arrogance or agony is provocatively difficult. (I guess will have to read some Guest…)

2) the sense that, here at least, our recourse to the visual arts, to painting, when we attempt to describe the literary aesthetic (we do it all the time – the literary aesthetic might be said only to borrow its vocabulary from other media) also carries with it a sense of flatness, a pleasurable lack of depth. The pleasure of the painting isn’t simply the pleasure of the surface, here; it’s the pleasure of the surface without depth, volume, content.

A Guest poem to get you (and me) started. Here are some more.

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April 5, 2006 at 1:19 am

Posted in aesthetics