New Solutions to New Problems Might be New Problems
The Individual as Social Process:
Of all the poets associated with language writing, Nick Piombino focuses most directly on the problem of the individual, both as writer and as source of experience. While the theoretical focus of most language writers can be said to be socialist and materialist, Piombino’s use of psychoanalytic theory and his experience as a practicing psychoanalyst marks him as different in focus while at the same time his work is closely related to language writing.
Is No One Going To Show Up?
The ADDRESSER sends a MESSAGE to the ADDRESSEE. To be operative the message requires a CONTEXT referred to, graspable by that addressee, and either verbal or capable of being verbalized; a CODE fully, or at least partially, common to the addresser and the addressee; and, finally, a CONTACT, a physical channel and psychological connection between the addresser and addressee, enabling both of them to enter and stay in communication. (Jakobson 66)
For Watten, the shortcoming of this notion of communication is its assumption that the participants remain in charge of the circumstances of communication. He argues that in a context framed by coercive social power, communication is always alienating, and he then puts forward a notion that the medium of communication (i.e. language) has become ‘the resistance between writer and reader, hearer and speaker’ (Watten 9).
Any ‘statement’ is blanked, negated, made into the form of an encompassing void — from the perspective of the reader, it indicates only the limits of the writer’s form, as incoherent and various as that might be. It is not by any means what he is ‘saying.’ Nothing can be compelled from the medium of the speaker except the outline of his form. (Conduit 9-10)
The speaker, then, far from indulging in personal expression that’s understood by a listener, expresses mainly the form of utterance that coercive social circumstances make possible.
You Deny Me And Bring Me Back
Cars pass. I sit
Far from rejecting the use of the ‘I,’ this passage enmeshes the narrator in a number of specific material contexts — in a neighborhood of small decaying homes, in relation to art and its history and much else.What frequently devotes itself to the experiences of a central ‘I,’ but always places that ‘I’ within specific and multiple social contexts.
What follows a strict chronology has no memory. For me, they must exist, the contents of that absent reality, the objects and occasions which I now reconsidered. The smells of the house were thus a peculiar mix of heavy interior air and the air from outdoors lingering over the rose bushes, the camellias, the hydrangeas, the rhododendron and azalea bushes. (13)
For Hejinian, the experience of the self includes not only immediate moments but also reflections on those moments. Thus an individual’s history takes on a multi-dimensionality in which past and present, reflection and action become thickly intermixed.
Do I Have To Agree With Him To Like Him?
While I agree that disposing of this form of nullifying narcissism is laudable, and that it is supported by a concept of self which is hypocritical, by defining the whole concept of self reflexively, and thereby narrowing it philosophically, Bernstein has apparently underestimated the complexity of the self-construct. The mirroring function of the self is indeed limited and limiting. But an important theme, a complication not completely worked through in Bernstein’s work, may be illustrated by a distinction that can be made between self and identity. (Boundary 43-44)
Piombino doesn’t use the term ‘identity’ to discard the concept of the self. Instead, he points out the need to develop Bernstein’s notion of the self to include an idea of people as responsive to all sorts of social and material interactions, and able to change as a result of such interactions:
I am not suggesting that the struggle to develop identity replaces self as an ‘organizing principle’ for writing. I am proposing that the concept of the self must be understood as a dynamic, not a static, one. I am defining a contrast between the two: identity represents all that is potential to the self in phenomenological awareness, in part, realizable, in part not, in part being realized, in part, not. Self represents that which is finite and observable in awareness. The self is the sheddable bark of the tree, facing outward to the world and relating with it, exposed directly to it, and also protecting the identity, the xylem of the tree, vulnerable and within. More vulnerable, more changing, the identity defies the imprint the world and the self make upon it. (45)
For Piombino, people essentially become a variety of interactions (including resistance as well as acceptance) both with the world and with the changing features of themselves in relation to the world. No longer self-contained, the individual becomes a process of interrelations. While he acknowledges that at moments Bernstein ‘is actually describing the self’s tenuous approach towards identity,’ Piombino also highlights a theoretical difference in his own approach from the idea that the self is purely a (inevitably deluded) result of social ideology, an idea that much criticism claims all language poets share (Boundary 45) [Note 3].
I’m Thinking About Changing My Perspective
Who Are You? Who Am I?
Here, a certain intimacy is created by the many silences in the conversation; the silences contain statements that the people don’t need to speak because they understand the context. Yet the passage also shows how the structures of English shape this conversation. We as readers don’t share in the intimacy because we don’t know the specifics being discussed. But the phrasing makes those specifics irrelevant because it creates a series of hesitations and implications that seem to be understood by the speakers but may not be understood. Further, the phone helps shape the conversation by magnifying silences; because the visual gestures of face to face conversation have been eliminated, the people involved can both more easily believe that they understand the other’s implications while at the same time the chance of potential misunderstanding has increased. The phone allows the comfort of pretending to understand, even as it magnifies the ability to misunderstand.
Teacher Hit Me With A Ruler
Positive penetration is the absolute watermark
At this point in the sequence, the specific context isn’t clear. There is an unspecified ‘order’ which intends ‘penetration’ so it can keep what it penetrates as part of the order. Indeed the goal is to have those who are penetrated state their desire for ‘Return’ just as the penetration itself makes such a statement; the grammatical slippage of the passage makes the issue of who or what states ‘Return’ purposefully ambivalent, although grammatically it remains most likely that it is the ‘sizes’ subject to penetration who infinitely make the statement. Yet the potential for resistance is implied as well. The only active subject in the poem, marked by the pronoun ‘you,’ involves itself in ‘evading’ such ‘uniform permits,’ although the evasion is incomplete and takes place only ‘in sections.’
Slight irritation over minor adjustments
Yet the second stanza applies the above point of view to a ‘he’ who says ‘Choose three reference points./ Measure the inner source/ and stride there with a partly bowed head.’ At this point, ‘the back students are speechless’ and the context seems clearly one of the classroom (27).
Who Have You Been Talking About?
I Didn’t Expect So Many People Would Be Here
I am not quite yet the harmony of the spheres, I have been hunting prey and building bridges for several years now on and off, I am the foam of obstruction in the foam of obstruction I am, I am the open bridge, I am the falling away from a baseball game across the earth on the edge of the islands and jail. (Jarnot)
Jarnot’s insistence on ‘I’ makes blatantly clear the concept of the self as a social process; the ‘I’ doesn’t exist outside its various scenes. Oddly enough perhaps, her embedding of ‘I’ in a series of images and moments becomes remarkably similar to Ron Silliman’s use of ‘I’ in What, although Jarnot emphasizes ‘I” while Silliman downplays it.
Andrews, Bruce, The Language Book. Carbondale and Edwardsville: Southern Illinois University Press, 1984.
———, ‘Making Social Sense: Poetics & the Political Imaginary.’The World In Time and Space. Edited by Edward Foster and Joseph Donahue. Jersey City, New Jersey: Talisman, 2002: 1–17.
Eliot, T.S., The Sacred Wood. London: Methuen and Co. Ltd., 1920.
Hejinian, Lyn,My Life. Los Angeles, CA: Sun and Moon, 1987.
———, The Language of Inquiry. Berkeley and Los Angeles, CA: University of California Press, 2000.
Inman, P., ‘One to One.’ The Politics of Poetic Form. Edited by Charles Bernstein. New York: Roof, 1990: 221–225.
Jacobson, Roman, Language in Literature. Cambridge, MA: Harvard, 1987.
Jarnot, Lisa, Sea Lyrics. New York: Situations, 1996.
Martin, Stephen-Paul, Untitled Reviews. New York: Central Park #23, 1994.
Paz, Octavio, The Other Voice: Essays on Modern American Poetry. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1990.
Piombino, Nick, The Boundary of Blur. New York: Roof, 1993.
———, Light Street. Gran Canaria: Zasterle, 1996.
———, Poems. Los Angeles, CA: Sun and Moon, 1988.
———, Theoretical Objects. Los Angeles, CA: Green Integer, 1999.
———, Personal letter to the author. Jan. 31, 2001.
Qureshi, Raymond, ‘Musical Objects.’ http://www.bath.ac.uk/ ~exxdgdc/ lynx/ lynx152.html
Silliman, Ron, What. Great Barrington, MA: The Figures, 1988.
Spahr, Juliana, ‘What’s Worth Remembering.’ Witz (Summer 1998): 19–21.
Watten, Barrett, Conduit. San Francisco, CA: Gaz, 1988.
———, ‘The Conduit of Communication in Everyday Life.’ Aerial 8: Barrett Watten. Ed. Rod Smith. Washington, DC: Edge Books, 1995: 32–38.
Woznicki, John, ‘Poetry of Play, Poetry of Purpose: The Continuity of American Language Poetry.’ http://www.moriapoetry.com/ woznicki.htm
. In his recent article ‘Making Social Sense: Poetics and the Political Imaginary,’ Andrews suggests a different idea of the individual in poetry, calling for writing that ‘needs a politics of personal transformability—to nudge us toward a reception which is socially creative, looser than anything deductive’ (11).
. Even Hejinian’s fascinating essay ‘Who is Speaking?,’ which from its title might appear a discussion of the concept of the author, turns out to be a discussion of the politics of community interaction (30-39).
. As an example of this kind of generalization, John Woznicki writes that ‘Language poets dismiss ego organization of their poetry because it is a social construct, the subject is not (and should not be) individual,’ as if all language poets agree and the problem could be resolved that simply (12).
. Octavio Paz, for instance, to some extent looks at literature this way in his essay ‘The Few and the Many’ when he distinguishes between literature and the notion of the best seller: ‘What distinguishes a literary work from a book that is merely entertaining or informative is the fact that the latter is literally meant to be consumed by its readers, whereas the former has the ability to come back to life. Poetry seeks not immortality but resurrection’ (95).
August 2003 | Jacket 23