15 jun. 2011

Duncan, Bloom, HD, and Psychoanalysis

Ok, I know that I said psychoanalysis was a bullshit field. Here I am going to take a slightly different perspective. From the historical vantage-point, Freud's ideas were very influential, and you cannot look at the modernist and late modernist periods without knowing something about him. It would be embarrassing not to know something of the intellectual history of these literary movements.

H.D. was the only major modernist poet who was also analyzed by Freud, and she even wrote a book about him. Duncan deals with H.D's Freudianism, also, in the H.D. Book. Bloom's theory of poetic anxiety is also rooted in Freudian concepts like repression. The Freudian concept of the "narcissism of small differences" might explain the way in which people like Duncan and Bloom, or Bloom and Rothenberg, could not talk to one another. H.D could be analyzed by Freud, but Pound, the subject of another H.D. book, dismissed Freud completely, as he did Marx. Two Jewish thinkers uncongenial to Pound's antisemitic sensibility.

Duncan connects HD's Freudianism to the idea of the occult, the hidden, and hence to gnosticism. It is not an orthodox reading of Freud, by any means, but how interesting would that have been? Duncan's view of the differences among major modernist poets and thinkers, Pound, Williams, Yeats, H.D., Freud, is very nuanced.

If I could connect Freud to Lorca, I would be doing very well. I don't mean doing a Freudian reading of Lorca, but connecting the two from the perspective of intellectual history.

6 comentarios:

Vance Maverick dijo...

Tangentially, could you say something about your take on Duncan's poetry? You've written here and there that he's a "great poet in all respects", that you "can't 'take' him", and that you don't like him that much. Me, I find him attractive as a figure, a lurking spirit in the poetry world, but I can't point to many of the poems I like. The well-known less-scholarly pieces like the "falconress" poem or "Often I am permitted" (see here) hit lovely and distinctive notes (really distinctive), but they seem to me to ramble on shapelessly.

Jonathan dijo...

He has beautiful lines and I like the ambition behind sequences like The Structure of Rhyme. Where I have trouble with his poetry is that he seems to want to congratulate himself too much on his gnosis, his superior knowledge. H.D. at least pokes fun at herself a bit in Hermetic Definition. "true, it was 'fascinating ... / if you can stand its preciousness," / you wrote of what I wrote." Duncan put himself in a position where he can't have any self-awareness about such preciosity.

Andrew Shields dijo...

Freud's influence cannot be denied, which only makes it all the more surprising that his theories are such balderdash. No other pseudo-science has had such a huge cultural influence.

Jonathan dijo...

It makes sense that the same people who would take astrology and theosophy seriously would also be Freudians or Jungians. Did you ever take a class from Al Gelpi?

John dijo...

I think Duncan *is* self-aware about his preciosity; I would say that he lacks an ironic sense about it. And I admire him for that!

Andrew Shields dijo...

I took an undergraduate course on Emerson, Whitman, and Dickinson with Al Gelpi, and I later helped him proofread a book that was just coming out (though I don't remember which book it was).

At the time, I would not have been put off by his Freudian/Jungian schtick, as that was the avenue I first followed in lit crit (not that I ever "applied" it much myself, as I was always more interested in literature than theory, which occasionally got me in trouble when my papers weren't "theoretical" enough).