15 jul. 2009

Voice and visuality are not in opposition to each other in modernist poetics, though they may appear to be at times. Emphasis on both or either entails an emphasis on the materiality of the sign. The relevant opposition is between voice and visuality, on one side, and Billy Collins-style transparency on the other. In other words, anti-modern emphasis on the communicative function of language. Poetry cannot be transparent by definition.

I've figured out why I've always hated concrete poetry: it moves quickly to a certain transparency of effect. Once you see that the words form an image of the Eiffel tower, and once you see what the words say, and put the two together, you are done. I prefer Ullán's opaque signs, where visuality takes us in the direction of abstraction.

A new dimension of the project is emerging: performativity, visuality, etc... in tension with the emphasis on intellectual history / philosophy.

Perloff usefully distinguishes between 4 approaches to literature / poetry. Poetry as a branch rhetoric; as philosophy; as an art form alongside of other forms of art; as document of cultural history. The tension in my project is between philosophy, intellectual history, and cultural history, on the one hand, and art. Ullán is bringing me closer to performative and interartistic, performative aspects of Lorca.

2 comentarios:

Jordan dijo...

Yes, the "getting-it factor," and its Charybdis, obtuseness.

Saintsbury opposes baldness and obscurity, but I've found they often go together.

The problem for me with most visual poetry is that it destroys precisely what I love about the pictorial -- its manifest presence and its sublime unknowables can coexist, have to in fact. This may be another way of saying that outside of Apollinaire and Mallarme I don't think much of the writing in most concrete writing. My loss, probably.

Tom King dijo...

I don't think I've even "read" enough concrete poetry to form an opinion about it, but what you and Jordan are describing is the way I feel about music that "describes" something, a thunderstorm for example. It demeans the music, makes it subservient to the narrative or description. On the other hand I don't necessarily hate things that are a one time experiencing pleasure. Kenneth Koch used to say that about some of the poems in our class. Auden said the same about crime novels. He loved them, but once he was finished with one, he knew he would never read it again.