9 ago. 2007

There was a time in the 70s when every book of poetry had to have a gerund (or so it seemed):

Searching for the Ox (Simpson)

Diving into the Wreck (Rich)

Dismantling the Silence (Simic)

Braving the Elements (Merrill)

Gathering the Bones Together (Orr)

Kicking the Leaves (Hall)

I'm sure there were plenty of books that didn't have that that title format, but there were sure a lot of them that did. It's kind of a mini-cliché that continues to this day, but I think I was most aware of it in the 1970s which is when I first started reading poetry.

UPDATE: SOME MORE, NOT NECESSARILY FROM THE 70S

Burning the Empty Nests (Orr) [It seems the the object of the gerund is, preferentially, an object from nature]

Connecting the Dots (Kumin)

Looking for Poetry (Strand)

Eating Naked (Dobyns) [not a book of poems, though]

Loving a Woman in Two Worlds (Bly)

Taking All Morning (Bly) [poets on poetry]

Writing the Australian Crawl (Stafford) [poets on poetry]

Listening Deep (Stafford)

Learning to Live in the World (Stafford)

There are plenty of academic studies with this gerunding the noun pattern too. Hey, that would be good title for a book of poetry: "Gerunding the Noun."

12 comentarios:

Evan dijo...

This tendency migrated to independent filmmaking at some point. Consider:

"Swimming to Cambodia"
"Spanking the Monkey"
"Kicking and Screaming"
"Being John Malkovich"
"Walking and Talking"

There are about 3,000,000,000 more.

Elisa Gabbert dijo...

Aren't those mostly present participles? How can a noun form take a direct object?

Just asking.

Jonathan dijo...

Braving is the elements is a good thing to do. (gerund, the noun phrase "braving the elements" is the subject, so a gerund, (verbal noun), can in fact take a direct object.

I am kicking the leaves. (present participle).

In the titles the -ing form may be ambiguous, but I take it as a verbal noun rather than as a present participle.

Next question?

Elisa Gabbert dijo...

I guess. If someone asks, "What are you doing?" and I say, "Searching for the ox," intuitively, I think I'm just eliding the "I'm" from the sentence "I'm searching for the ox," rather than eliding the second half of the sentence "Searching for the ox is what I am doing."

Why do you take them as verbal nouns?

Elisa Gabbert dijo...

But maybe intuition is irrelevant here.

Jonathan dijo...

Sure, but then you're already thinking present participle, if the question is "what you are doing?" If the question were one that evoked a gerund more intuitively then you would have the opposite intuition.

"--What's the most dangerous sport?

--diving."

Elisa Gabbert dijo...

Or "What's the name or your book?" ;)

Fair enough. With the titles in question, I felt the authors were trying to evoke themselves via a time-slice of action, a la, Look at me, I'm eating naked. This is me, all connecting the dots. I'm SO learning to live in the world! etc.

But ultimately the -ing form on its own is ambiguous, just as any word that can be multiple parts of speech is. E.g., a book called Bob -- could be a proper noun or a verb (a command?).

-e

Jonathan dijo...

Points well taken. I'm just impressed to find someone actually knows that there is a difference between a gerund and a participle.

John dijo...

"Catchy-Title-Colon-Informative-Subtitle: Patterning in academic paper titling."

Faux-Thelonious-Monk '70s poetry book title:

"Titling the Book."


p.s. Enjoyed the "Gerunding the Participle" discussion. Thanks!

Nada dijo...

Considering How Exaggerated Music Is

Tony R dijo...

Ha. I'm with Elisa here. Or was. I was going to comment and say "Tsk. Tsk. Jonathan! Don't you know the difference between a gerund and a present participle?" Well, of course you do. But my first impression was that these words are being used as verbs.

Jonathan dijo...

They are verbs in some sense, but I think they are being used nounily. For example, in Spanish where the present participle form, is not used as gerund you don't find this pattern in titles. You would use the infinitive, since that is the way to make a verbal noun in Spanish. "Eating Roast Beef While Talking" in Spanish would be "Comer ... al hablar..." If that were in a title.