In any event, the poem is the process by which all of this comes to pass. And once it passes, the poem must be read again. The process con- tinues. The poem always changes in relation to the time and space in which it is produced, reproduced, and received. Text is always a func- tion of context. You cannot say what the poem means in the end. But you can work through its process, and within its process. However, because the poem is process, the poem is not the thing to which most contemporary scholars will turn in order to fix the meaning of culture, identity, or history. The poem can rapidly become an exercise in its own for- mality, whereby certain structural properties of language, certain sound-effects, certain sense-effects are all elicited without having much relation to the world around the poem.
The Structuralists likewise viewed the poem as the ulti- mate expression of the abstract language system, as a self-operating machine of language. In short, for these schools of the twentieth cen- tury, the poem held a privileged place in literary and cultural schol- arship. The refusal of sense inherent to the poetic process came to maximize the impression of poetry as the highest, purest form of linguistic expression. Post-structuralism and deconstruction accom- plished necessary work with respect to the institutions of cultural scholarship and cultural power, and their relations to class antago- nisms.
After deconstruction, language could not be accepted de facto as natural, but rather always socially constructed. Any use of language, particularly written language, published in historical, cultural, or oth- erwise social discourses could likewise never be taken out-of-hand as fully naturalized. It was finally recognized, for instance, that poetry had no natural place of privilege over prose, journalism, film scripts, or even comic books and advertisements.
Rather, its privilege was by and large the product of the power invested in it historically by educa- tional, academic, and cultural institutions. There can be no mistake, therefore, of the shift over the past half-century to narrative—prose narrative—as the predominant focus of cultural studies.
If one under- stands how certain socially constructed narratives of history and nation come to accumulate power, then it stands to reason that you can understand how these narratives might be altered, and how narra- tives of other histories and nations might be validated. The formalism and formality of poetry appeared to be ill-suited to such tasks. Yet we should notice here that the problem is not with poetry or the poetic itself, but with how poems and poetics have been read. The process of poetry always stands in relation to time and space.
Thus, the process of poetry always relates to its historical, material, and spa- tial contexts. Indeed as I would like to show in this book, the poem can even devour its time and space. This book poses difficult questions: How does the process of poetry relate to larger historical processes of culture, politics, and economics in the American Hemisphere? Why is poetry necessary to understand- ing the Americas as temporal, spatial, and historico-cultural contexts? The growth of Hemispheric, Inter-American cultural studies has been nothing short of impressive over the past decade.
When I began the present project almost a decade ago, such a thing as Inter-American studies scarcely existed in literary-cultural studies. Even within Latin American cul- tural studies, Spanish America and Brazil were usually studied in isola- tion—with minimal crossover.
With American literary-cultural studies split into several distinct spheres North America, Spanish America, Brazil, also Francophone Caribbean and Quebec , truly inter-Amer- ican comparative work in the last half of the twentieth century was spearheaded by social scientists and diplomats who tended to have a specific geopolitical agenda.
Until only recently, that is, Hemispheric studies have largely served the Organization of American States, the Inter-American Development Bank, International Monetary Fund, World Bank—organizations promoting either the hegemony of the United States or that of global capitalism. Since the turn of the twenty-first century, however, something remarkable has occurred. Concurrent to these developments in Anglo-American studies, Latin American cultural studies have undergone their own remark- able transformations.
A generation ago, Latin Americanists appeared committed to a certain form of regional insularity, perhaps justifi- ably so. Nowadays, cultural scholars routinely move between different linguistic traditions within Latin America, especially by incorporating both Brazilian and Spanish-American cultures. The significance of this emergence cannot be underestimated. As I just mentioned, Hemispheric American studies have existed for some time now, just not in the realm of cultural studies in the humanities.
Southwest, Louisiana, South Florida, and so on. Even in the face of stiff opposition to neoliberalism both in the form of popular movements and populist demagoguery , American nations have become mutually dependent. Cultural scholars generally remain opposed to globalization and integration, largely out of a sincere eth- ical obligation to oppose increasingly advanced forms of economic exploitation and political oppression.
Nevertheless, we would be amiss to think that inter-American cultural studies have nothing to do with inter-American free trade: This is a dangerous position in which to find oneself.
Power dynamics and spheres-of-influence in the Americas are in a state of flux these days, yet there can be no doubt that Anglo-Latin American relations have been marked by disequilibrium, with greater polit- ical and economic power exerted from the North than from the South. At the same time, Latin American scholars have, to repeat, viewed Anglo America and Anglo-Americans with suspicion as to their true intentions. The fear among Latin Americanists is that hemispheric Americanism would dilute the significance, the specificity, and ultimately the viability of Latin American cultures, even though cultural insularity is no longer acceptable.
Their fear would be a real one, however, if Anglo- Americanists were to persist—tacitly or explicitly—in reading Latin America merely as an addendum to Anglo America, and in so doing disregard the impressive body of Latin American cultural scholar- ship not to mention cultural production that has developed over the past years.
This is perhaps the primary question posed by this book: The Negative Space of Hemispheric American Studies By raising this question I mean that Hemispheric American studies cannot be practiced without recognizing the institutional effects of that practice. At some point the insti- tutional differences between the two fields will have to be negotiated, and I hope this present work will move Hemispheric studies in this direction.
However, any inter-Americanist will immediately have to confront the questions of how and where to begin the work of trans- lation and negotiation. My methodology in this undertaking has been to identify several key issues that seem endemic to literature in the New World, to select cer- tain representative texts from each of the five largest New World cul- tures. One of the daunting problems encountered in an undertaking such as this was precisely the issue of text selection, for not all the works that relate to any given topic could possibly be discussed.
Given the multitude of issues and texts that are available for consideration, on what rationale does one pick certain ones over others? Yet he also stands down from moving beyond the meth- odology of thematic cohesion, and thus also stands down from an overarching theory of Americanism valid across the hemisphere.
The unmistakable goal of my own work, here and elsewhere, is to provide such an overarching theorization. Over the past century, Anglo and Latin American studies have been united only to the extent that they have afforded relatively little intrinsic value to American cultures. In one of the earliest U. For the first two centuries, indeed, our literature is chiefly valuable, not as art, but as history, as an expression of the spirit of the people and the times. Nor can its full significance be seen until we widen our view still more and recognize that American literature is one branch of the greater English literature, a part of the life of a great race as well as of a great nation.
In , Robert E. At that time there were no departments and few courses in American literature as such in our colleges and universities; there were no scholarly societies or jour- nals devoted to its study; the specialists in American literary research could be counted on one hand, and to so announce oneself was virtu- ally to commit professional suicide; and histories of the subject were generally deprecatory and apologetic. Spillers writes in Although she attacks the lack of agency afforded to Americans to define themselves in the harshest of terms, she nonetheless perpetuates this very lack of agency in her own argument.
This notion of lack as a constitutive aspect of American literatures and cultures is by no means limited to U. The aesthetic—if one may so call that grotesque simian nightmare of American writers—lacks therefore, today perhaps more than ever, its own proper physiognomy. Compared to the greats, our literature is poor and weak.
Latin American lit- erature is more an intention than a fact simply because Latin America itself has never achieved cultural integration. Rather, Latin American literature lacks an extant, integrative cultural space in the first place. It may not be inferior to Europe, but it nevertheless has a long way to go before it can move from belief and intention to reality.
American culture is something that may be glimpsed, but nothing that has defi- nition or form. Or rather, its form and definition always emanate from somewhere else external to it: Such views have dissipated substantially over the past 20 years, and yet they continue to linger still. In terms of literary-cultural studies as an institution, the American has been, shall we say, spectral.
My own view is that the material condition of the American histories is just that: Yet matter and history are always in migration, movement that has made American cultures rather hard to nail down.
Poet in Andalucia
The question of American cultural studies in the global or hemispheric sense, therefore, is not if something can be known, but how and why it should be known. The question is not if the American exists, but the process by which the American has been announced, how it has been materialized. Or perhaps we should begin to frame the problem of inter-American studies around how the Americas continue to materialize, rather than merely accepting the region as already concretized.
Yet American cultures may only be defined as a process of integration, as an ongoing process of cultural migration and cultural translation. The problem of Hemispheric American cul- tural studies in such a context is not whether one can compare a text from one America to a text from another America. Such assumed self-realization may then distinguish Latin America from an already differentiated, realized, and stabilized Anglo America that likewise lacks intrinsic value. In order to make comparisons, it seems, one must assume that one America has already been reconciled unto itself, and that another America already reconciled unto itself, in order to overcome the irreconcilable differences between them.
The Plan of the Present Work Modern Poetics and Hemispheric American Cultural Studies therefore addresses several problems that will prove fundamental to the forma- tion of the discipline: Indigenous peoples, rather, have been forced to become American, usually by means of violence and coercion, just as have many other subsequent cultural groups Africans especially prior to the s, many Asian groups until the s as key examples. However, the mere naming of America after Amerigo Vespucci is not the sole deter- mining factor of what America is, or what an American is.
The American is in fact the American. What Is American Culture? As a process of migration and encounter, American culture is always a matter of cultural translation. This is how Latin American mestizaje has come to be understood since , and I see no reason why the transcultural model would not apply to Anglo America as well. However, we should not be mistaken that transculturation results in telos, with the emergence of a fully formed mestizo national subject. The problem, of course, is that translation is not a language in its own right, only a relation between two or more other languages.
As I state a bit later on in this Preface, and prove in the rest of this book, the problem of translation is particularly poetic. What Is an American Subject? This final question is by far the most difficult one, and the most incendiary insofar as it will lead directly to ideological conflict both within academic disciplines and between academia and the rest of the world.
Perhaps the greatest historical question facing any and all American societies is the determination of who is American and who is not American, un-American. American political systems rest on the foundational question of who may receive full citizenship, and hence receive representation in the official realm of state power. The goal of working through subaltern subjectivity is political in nature: The problems as I see it with such lines of inquiry stem from how any American subject would be incorporated into any form of state, whether into the modern nation-state or some entirely new form.
The matter of state incorporation requires the sub- ject to be translated into an objective fact—for subjectivity to be objec- tified in some way, shape, or form. Furthermore, the dominant forces of political and economic power only care about objective facts: Any focus on subjectivity alone will therefore tend to be disregarded by such forces. This is not to say that we must disregard subjectivity or subalterity altogether—not at all. Rather, we must find ways to under- stand the relation in-between subjects and objects.
Consequently, the American subject subject- position will never be reconciled or fixed to any objective location object-position within a state system. Outlines of the Modern I have thus far outlined two different sorts of process: The poem as a contextual process, and the American as a modern, historical process.
But how do these two processes intersect or overlap? The concept of the modern is the key link between the two. Civilization and culture are always coeval. This conceptual distinction is important in that aesthetic and cul- tural modernisms ca. Rather, mod- ern poets in particular concretized the modern political-economic order as a matter of culture.
Modern poets sought to materialize this distinction, to inscribe the American voice and American iden- tity, through a poetics based in migration, translation, and transcul- turation. However, the poetic process is not just about specifying the meaning of language. The poem is a process that generates critical insight for its participants as to how meaning is created in a particu- lar context—so that one can derive ways to mutate contexts.
This is therefore not a matter of the superstructure culture, literature, poetry giving symbolic meaning to the base capitalism. Modern poetry is more likely a matter of the superstructure trying to devour the base, grind it down, make it into something different. I outline how this is the case in the four chapters to follow, each focused primarily on a single poetic work, but with each work placed into far-ranging contexts. The chapters are organized more or less in chronological order, although I must caution that I am not try- ing to construct a chronology of Hemispheric Americanism.
Instead, I focus on hemispheric possibilities that emerge from the text itself in an objective sense, in its migrations between prose and poetry. Chapters 2 and 3 concentrate squarely on Latin American texts and cultures. And this new ori- gin locates the work in a particularly American problematic of trans- cultural translation. This provides me a means to assess the highly problematic Americanism of The Cantos of Ezra Pound in chapter 4. The author of the Cantos, of course, was virulently anti-Semitic, racist, and likely insane.
He was also found to be officially un-American by the U. The Americanism of the Cantos occurs in its refutation of authorship, authority, and authoritarianism, even as the work asserts all these things in its focalization of U. This only becomes available in the context of textual transmission and translation, which are the ultimate bases for any determination of authorship and subjectivity in the work.
The ends of this book are therefore a beginning: The foundation of American culture is migration. The original language of the Americas is only ever translation. The poem is the process by which the lan- guage of migration—translation—materializes in its own right. Limitations If the aim of this book is to make Hemispheric American studies comprehensible, it makes no claims whatsoever to being comprehen- sive.
I do not in any way, shape, or form include all literary and cul- tural histories of the Americas, for that would be as foolish as it is impossible. Rather, this book sketches the general theoretical and methodological track I take in subsequent books and articles—a track I hope others will follow, expand, and revise after reading this book. I do first want to recognize, however, several gaps in my presen- tation of the argument.
Within the realm of poetry of the Americas, even the casual reader will notice the absence of Argentinean, Andean, Canadian, and Caribbean authors. Beyond the fact that this style does not permit a vast number of works to be analyzed, however, I am not particularly interested in cataloguing the wide variety of possible texts and areas that could be covered.
Yet, given my interests and my style of literary criticism, the addition of another mass of microscopic details would make the book as a whole untenable, or rather, impractical to read. Second, my readers might be surprised to encounter a theoretical work of cultural studies that does not include a theory of race, gen- der, sexuality—at least not explicitly so. My goal—to reiterate—is not to create a common sphere of Americanism. This means that I reject any attempt to create a common sphere of indigenous culture, of blackness, of queerness, of woman.
Yet I do not at all reject theories of the same per se, espe- cially because they are in fact of central importance to this book. One should notice how questions of race, sexuality, and gender are in fact folded into each argument made in the pages to follow. Above and beyond this fact, though, I seek to provide a productive platform for hemispheric American studies into which all questions of race, gender, and sexuality may be addressed without erasing the patent cultural, political, and economic differences between various Americas.
With this book I am not attempting to pinpoint specific kinds of social dif- ference; instead I am trying to show how multiple forms of difference function or malfunction differentially in general. I myself do not view this book as self-contained or complete, how- ever.
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I should note that I will likely follow the present work with a more general Theory of Hemispheric American Cultural Studies that will address theories of race, gender, and sexuality directly. And I have already begun another book project, Alternative Functions, which examines the nexus between urbanization, modernization, modern- ist architecture, and modernist poetry in the Americas. Even still, I can only ask my reader for compassion.
Reading America hemispherically is necessary, but the scale of the hemisphere is, in its way, incomprehensive. Yet by the same token, incomprehen- sive does not mean incomprehensible. Perrone for providing feedback on the manuscript and, perhaps more importantly, for helping find a way to bring my work to the public. David Castillo and David William Foster were also instrumen- tal in seeing the project along in its final stages. I would also like to thank, from the bottom of my heart, my dear madrina Celina de Carilla.
My parents Elsbe and Patrick Read—and my brother, sister, in- laws, uncles, aunts, nieces, and nephews across the United States, Canada, Mexico, and Poland—have shown me undying love even when they were not quite so sure what I was up to. My eternal grat- itude to them. And finally, to my wife Ania: These words are your words, as well. Copyright by New Directions Publishing Corporation. Sections of chapter 3 appeared previously in Translation Review, No. Sections of chapter 4 appeared previously in CR: New Centennial Review, 3.
Walton Litz and Christopher MacGowan. Wesleyan University Press, ]. The Cantos of Ezra Pound.
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New Directions, [Paperbound printing]. The original lan- guage of the Americas is only ever translation. Who is the migrant who crosses the border? What does she say? What does her voice sound like to us? What does she think of us? Can we really look at her? In the preface, I began to theorize Hemispheric Americanism with and in migration and translation. I suggested that the migration and translation of cultures has direct historical bearing on political and economic configurations of the Americas.
But this cultural problem- atic may itself be fragmented: On one hand, the cultural scholar may hold some ethical obligation to migrating subjects, particularly those whose migration has been spurred by economic exploitation, poverty, or political violence. On the other hand, this ethical obligation to the migrant but not the migrant herself may be central to the formation of theories of inter-Americanism.
In this sense it is the image or fig- ure of the migrating subject that assumes critical importance, an image made available for inquiry. The migrant has been transformed into an object an image-object, figure-object suitable for use in crit- ical theory. I would theorize that all forms of Americanism stem from histori- cal processes of migration and border-crossing. The border may be international or intercontinental, the intercultural encounter of dif- ferent societies. It may be linguistic, the translation or mis commu- nication across two more languages. Or, the border may very well be intra-subjective, in terms of the internalization of subject-object boundaries as a prerequisite for subjective formation.
In any event, several critical axioms emerge before any type of American cultural studies can proceed: In political-economic terms, the purpose of the state is to territorialize or ground migration and the cultural translation that ensues from it. Yet the political- economic incorporation of the migrant can only be achieved at the cost of some violence given that the American subject can never be reconciled in such a finalized, grounded way. This does not mean that tran- sculturation does not occur as a historical process; rather, transcul- turation and translation do not necessarily reach felicitous ends, if they ever reach an end in the first place.
So who is this migrant of whom we speak? When I began this chapter I had a specific image in mind: Elsie is an organic body who emerges spontaneously from the land, an individual being who remains tied to the landscape. Yet this landscape is not just natural, but also national, political, and eco- nomic. The first stanzas of the poem inform us that Elsie is a specifi- cally American individual: But this process is far from heroic, or even organic. Biographical evidence is well established that the real Elsie in question was sent by a New Jersey state agency to work in the house of a physician in suburban Rutherford, a certain Dr.
The pure prod- uct of America is, in the end, a negation. Rather, the process of nationhood is one of dynamic social interaction. But viewed in this way, the poem works to subvert every commonly held belief of national character. If Elsie is a national body, then she is a diseased national body, and her disease spreads to Williams like a communicable virus.
There is no indication that Elsie actually sees herself as American, or that she has any ability for self- reflection. Indeed, there is no indication of her voice whatsoever— just the words of the suburban physician who employs her labor. America produces Elsie, but it also chews her up and spits her out. The poem therefore asks how the migrant actually par- ticipates in the American nation, above and beyond any one ideology of national inclusion. And it is yet another thing to recognize that even though all of these measures have been enacted at least in part in the political and economic arena in order to ease social tensions, they have not eliminated exploitation, or even mitigated it necessarily, and have thus not broken the cycle of social exclusion.
The problem, however, is that the poem does not give voice to Elsie herself. Elsie never speaks for herself, and the poem operates by marking an absolute difference between the subject who speaks and the subject of the poem who does not speak but who is treated objec- tively. This problem necessarily carries over into literary-historical judgments we make about the poem. The Place of the Modernism: Whatever we may think of multiculturalism in its various revolutionary or reac- tionary forms, we cannot deny its palpable impact on literary and cultural studies.
The theoret- ical boundaries within which American literary history and interpreta- tion have unfolded have been redefined in the theoretical works of Fredric Jameson, Frank Lentricchia, Hayden White, and Edward Said. Each has questioned the premises on which the concepts of American hermeneutics, alterity, history and historiography rest. He is merely attempting to open American studies to what it should be—a study of the many cultures that exist in the hemisphere, and not just a single culture that has been held to be the only valid one.
He moves to read Anglo America from the vantage of Latin America and therefore from the vantage of U. Disciplinary representation is not in itself empowerment, as Gayatri Spivak has done well to demonstrate. Yet we should not confuse such anti-canonical gestures as being against the idea of reading any particular canon or canonical author. Nevertheless, this seems to create the impression that nothing radi- cally American emerges from any canonical author, even the most radically Americanist one. In the case of the present chapter, for instance, we will begin to mine the radicalism of Williams Carlos Williams—in part by reading Williams through another canonical American author, Oswald de Andrade.
The alternative is no better, though: Moreover, the migration of ideas from Europe and Asia and Africa and everywhere else to the Americas is constitutive of American thought. But this is not to say that American thought is necessarily Eurocentric as such. That is, it is not merely the case that European culture has migrated to the Americas, but that in doing so American culture has been subordi- nated to the former colonial powers—something that has been as true in Anglo America as it has been in Latin America.
Consequently, perceptions of American inferiority, and efforts to overcome that infe- riority, have become central to what it means to be American. As an American one cannot therefore merely reject Europe and ignore it, since contentious dialogue with Europe is in part what makes one American in the first place.
Only in cases of dementia could an educated Argentine writer boast of hav- ing read nothing more than Argentine authors—or Spanish-language writers. And Borges is not demented. These four texts, furthermore, are exemplary of modern poetry—a period that has been branded, for better or worse, as elitist, antipopular, and Eurocentric.
In this sense, the poem was to exemplify the creation of a distinctly American literature that was only understandable by means of a distinctly American mode of reading. I suspect that such an experience of Williams and his poem is entirely com- mon for many who were educated in the United States. Given his family heritage, then, William Carlos Williams would seem to make a perfect candidate for historical revision, since his fig- ure provides us a canonical U.
For the performance of imaginary translation that produced the image was also an applica- tion of conceptismo, specifically of the lessons that came to him through a major tributary, from whom he discovered early on how wild com- parisons in the imagination can bring tremendous inventiveness to the poem on the page.
Such overinterpretations tend to sidestep one of the most basic matters of literary critique: Yet he leaves no trace of exoticism in these descriptions, but merely describes them as object-images of his memory. In this context comes the following event, written in free and indirect discourse: We never went bathing in the sea. Then we came back before anybody could see us. When the Americans went there and went bathing in their suits with the men, the people were scandalized but now that there has been time for the children to grow up and get used to it—they are Americans, too.
And this ambivalence between objectivity and subjectivity carries over into the broader cultural politics at play here. Or does Williams merely relate something he accepts as objective fact? If I am not mistaken Williams has just colonized Puerto Rico, not valorized it. Moreover, the views expressed by Williams regarding these matters are too complex to be reduced to a mono- lithic sense of modernist poetry as being antithetical to the multicul- tural perspectives that necessitated historical revision in the first place.
Indeed, historical evidence clearly demonstrates that U. In a article, for instance, Robert Lowell comments on the fissures of modernism just as the modernist era was drawing to its close, writing of William Carlos Williams with a mixture of awe and exasperation: Williams enters me, but I cannot enter him.
Or rather, he sees and hears what we all see and hear and what is the most obvious, but no one else has found this a help or an inspiration. I am not satis- fied to let it be. Like others, I have picked up things here and there from Williams, but this only makes me marvel all the more at his unique and searing journey. It is a Dantesque journey, for he loves America excessively, as if it were the truth and the subject; his exasper- ation is also excessive, as if there were no other hell.
His flowers rustle by the superhighways and pick up all our voices. Nevertheless, even today we cannot avoid thinking of Lowell as a tra- ditionalist.
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Perhaps we have forgotten such things, but in the context Lowell is in fact commenting on a somewhat violent division that had developed in U. Eliot on the one hand and disciples of Williams Carlos Williams on the other. Lowell draws the fault-lines thus: A seemingly unending war has been going on for as long as I can remember between Williams and his disciples and the principals and disciples of another school of modern poetry.
The Beats are on one side, the university poets are on the other. Lately the gunfire has been hot. With such unlikely Williams recruits as Karl Shapiro blasting away, it has become unpleasant to stand in the middle in a position of impartiality. Aligned against Eliot and his stri- dent Britannic traditionalism stood Shapiro and the Beats, firing away at their supposed enemies like psychopaths.
But the damage has been done. By doing so Williams intended to create an American literature—one designed with the immediate intention of countering the influence of T. Eliot on other U. What, by this approach I am trying to sketch, what we are trying to do is not only to disengage the elements of a measure but to seek what we believe is there a new measure or a new way of measuring that will be commensurate with the social, economic world in which we are living as contrasted with the past.
It is in many ways a different world from the past calling for a different measure. Now we come to the question of the origin of our discoveries. Where else can what we are seeking arise from but speech? From speech, from American speech as distinct from English speech, or presumably so, if what I say above is correct. In any case since we have no body of poems comparable to the English from what we hear in America. No one has or can hear them as they were written any more than we can hear Greek today. SE — He then caps his comments off with a direct jab at both the British and, that most treacherous of Anglo-American traitors, T.
To us this is not so, not so if we prove it by writing a poem built to refute it—otherwise he wins!! But that leads to mere contro- versy. And this is the opportunity of America! An appearance of synchrony between American and English litera- ture has made it seem, especially at certain times, as if English criticism could overlay the American strain as it does the English. This cannot be so. The differences are epochal. We Americans ourselves must still rely on English models.
But we must not be misled. We have to realize that an English dictum on any work is, for us, only an approximation. It exists only as an analo- gous appraisal, as far as we are concerned, to fill a lack on our part of actual value. One need not discount biography in literary production, but one does need to be careful in its application to interpretation. That is to say, Williams does not seem particularly keen on representing his life-story, narrativizing himself, through his poetic or critical output.
Nor does Williams seek to eliminate subjec- tivity from consideration in poetry and literature—a claim often made against modernism, and objectivist poetry in particular, as if it were bent on some fascistic dehumanization of the subject. The Economics of Modernism: Indeed, Richard Morse appears to have realized this twenty years ago in rationalizing his comparison of two pairs of U. This has forced me to be even- handed in dealing with each of my pairs. I have dismissed the question of influence, which tilts the scale, and examined four persons who sim- ply had different placements in the Western world.
This strategy takes us beyond Europe-America or north-south dichotomies and invites shifting triangulations among Europe and the two Americas. Rather, he correctly realizes that the place of writing and reading in Americas has a necessary rela- tion to the time of either activity. Both Oswald and Williams incorporate avant-garde techniques from the other continent: Yet neither had any interest in the mere replication of Eurocentric discourse as a sign of civility and culture: It was not enough to discard hand-me-down rhetoric and fixed form.
That left one still in Europe. One must discover American languages if one is to convey experience directly. Linguistically, modernism began at home. In doing so, Oswald attempted to reverse the circuit of intellectual communication and power across the Atlantic: Of course, as has long been noted, with Cannibalism Oswald in fact calls for a repetition of the Eurocentric concept of nation and national identity, albeit from an alternate position—a crucial differ- ence.
As Haroldo de Campos would famously write of the manifesto: How exactly are we to link U. Returning to the comparative reading in his New World Soundings, Morse ends his comparison of Oswald and Williams by differentiat- ing them economically. I will reproduce the poems side-by-side for sake of convenience: Visually the stanzas present four identical little barrows composed of words in three-plus-one blocks. They suggest that with the trick of leverage solved, nature becomes infinitely organizable, and the farm infinitely replicable: The extra short syllables in line one of the first and last stanzas invite us to duck and pick up the bar- row to see how light it is, then to set it down.
A child could do it; yet we see no human in the picture. Hugh Kenner reminds us of the ambiguity of the word depend. Such is the spare and functional vision of the physician, or the Puritan. Oswald places a hundred humans at the center of his picture. Slaves, or human energies, are the motor power for production and society. Unlike the wheelbarrow, which needs neither food nor fossil fuel—and precious little human exertion—the blacks require constant stoking, although not with meat or white chickens. Luxuriant nature invades the fazenda from all sides to offer a host of European, African, and local crops, some wild and some cultivated, some pulled from the vine and some described as already cooked.
Enterprise and wild vegetation interpen- etrate. Yet the poet never mentions the commercial crop, presumably sugar, but only the foods needed to sustain human labor. Therefore the wheel cannot take precedence as a secret of power but comes last as an encumbrance. Sheer human muscle must rescue it. It is as if the U. By contrast, given that the sugar plantations of Northeast Brazil founded in the sixteenth century were among the first indus- trialized zones in the world, the Brazilian poet is never allowed to forget the human context: Nevertheless, Morse is fundamen- tally correct to relate the subordination of discourse and knowledge to the social division of labor.
Morse begins his book by outlining the dilemma of American lan- guages in general as contextual and historical in nature: Morse effectively frames the problem in terms of historical origin: Since koine were formed by the migration and miscegenation of peoples from different areas of the empire soldiers, administrators, slaves, workers, etc. Eventually these would lead to the distinct Vulgar Latin languages that have evolved into the Romance languages. But what happens if we think of a national society not as a participa- tory system or as a finely tooled mechanism of domination and con- trol?
Suppose we suspend systemic terminology and adopt the qualitative though not normative notion of a spectrum ranged from order to disorder? But the Brazilian nation becomes a creature of higher and lower degrees not of reality but of realization. It ceases being the systemic unit of the international chess game. Given their historical locations as koine, American nations perpetually seek definition with respect to the ideological formations of nationhood that have emanated to them from Europe; this never- ending search for national order necessarily implies the persistence of national disorder that the nation perpetually strives to overcome.
And as such, he leads us into yet another order of contradictions: Morse a traditional U. Nonetheless, Morse operates within a global context that is not unique to him or other Latin Americanists. Mignolo quite convincingly demonstrates how Latin America was mapped both geographically and economically after in accordance with transoceanic trade circuits centered in Europe.
Moreover, such subordination of entire populations has also resulted in the subordination of non-Occidental forms of knowledge and dis- course. Now, one could explain this fact by saying that, it is unfor- tunate, but they are theoretically behind, underdeveloped, as they do not know yet that the last discovery in the humanities in the metropol- itan research centers is that truly there is no such thing as inside and outside.
It would be nice to have such an explanation, except that it counters the facts. Yet I do not mention this to demean either Morse or Mignolo, for either one presents challenging arguments that push the envelope of Americanist thought. Given the persistence of this historical fact, disagreements between Latin Americanists essentially boil down to theorizing to what degree world order has determined Latin American history or to what degree Latin America has charted its own history.
Although neither Morse nor Mignolo agree with depen- dency theory—which by now has been generally discredited in the social sciences and beyond—it is significant that their readings are nonetheless inflected by it. Indeed Mignolo is careful to give depen- dency theory all due credit: The impact of dependency theory in Latin American philosophy was remarkable too.
It was a crucial moment of self- discovery, of understanding philosophy in Latin America and the Third World as part of a global system of domination. Here we must empha- size that any reading of Latin American modernists or vanguardistas of the early twentieth century—artists who corresponded to the rise of modernization and developmentalism—still depends on depen- dency: Was Oswald de Andrade, for instance, pointing to the mod- ernization of Brazil as an historical end? Or was he already demonstrating the fissures in the logic of Occidental modernity sev- eral decades before the rest of the world caught up with him?
These questions are significant insofar as the distinction Morse makes between Latin America and Anglo America is one that essen- tially replays the distinction between modernization and depen- dency theories. At the time Latin America began to industrialize the world market for industrialized goods had already been established, so that the region was forced to compete with industrial powers who already dominated production. If we admit that those factors of differentiation and complexity are intermixed with the above mentioned multiple links with external soci- eties and economic interests, it is not difficult to see the reasons why analyses of dependency need theoretical efforts to stress specificity.
The social and economic transformations that alter the internal and external aspects of the underdeveloped and dependent societies are actually political processes that, in present historical conditions, do not always favor national development. Our analysis of social develop- ment always assumes the possibility of stagnation and heteron- omy. Such historicization, finally, allows us to correct several critical and theoretical problems, especially as concerns reading modernist poetry.
First, dependency theory has largely been dismissed in economics, political science, and sociology, because it proved to be far too mech- anistic. All problems could then be blamed on the rest of the world, not on his- torical conditions specific to each context. It seems to me, however— and Cardoso himself would still agree with me on this point35 —that dependency theory proves far more valuable as a means to understand specific historical processes of social movement within Latin American nations, rather than to comprehend the entire world-system.
Second, dismissing functionalism does not at all dismiss structural or formal interpretation, but rather alters the parameters of such interpretation. Translated into literary and cultural studies, formalism and structur- alism have by and large fallen into disrepute as ahistorical, and there- fore as blinded to social conflicts of race, gender, and sexuality. This has been particularly detrimental to the image of modernist poetry—of poetic movements defined by their emphasis on poetic form and structure. One must pay attention to the historical contexts in which poetic forms appear as well as the forms themselves.
Yet this belies the fact that Oswald may have been far superior in terms of the quality of his intellectual production than many of his European contemporaries; this is impossible to prove, of course, but we must hold it open as a possibility. There is a palpable difference between First and Third Worlds, but these are not necessarily conti- nental categories.
Indeed they may be local: As it proceeds, the poem begins to populate its world with material objects: The poem thus plays with abstraction and figuration, as it is a kind of painterly still-life portrait of a real scene, but one that emerges by way of an abstract formal composition. But, of course, the poem itself is an abstraction, insofar as it is not a portrait, but rather a poem made of words—words that, following Saussure, we tacitly hold to be arbitrary signs referring to object-images. Yet this is only the case if we take words to be objects in themselves—that words do not merely refer to other things, but are things themselves.
The objectivity of words would thus create tension with what these words reference: If we take words in the poem to be word-objects, however, we cannot fail to notice the modulations of their formal arrangement. Each stanza consists of four words, three in the first verse, one in the second; and each stanza consists of three accented beats, two stressed beats in the first verse and one in the second.
However, the circulation of value is not marked by wealth, but scarcity: It is thus a rather cheap poem from the standpoint of economy. Such poverty is only redou- bled by the image the poem presents: Because there are so precious few words in the poem, each word seems to hang upon the bare bones of the others.
Enjambment creates a sense of linguistic suspension, so that the semantic and phraseological incompleteness of the first stanza increases our expectations for what is to follow. Yet what follows is nothing more than a mundane object, the wheelbarrow. If you doubt that this poem is economical, then you should consider the fact that despite its scarcity of substance—or rather, because of its scarcity of substance— the poem has proven time and time again to generate excessive com- mentary. My own exegesis is a case in point, itself being quite a bit longer than 22 syllables.
The first stanza begins in a mode that is strikingly negative: No that is not it nothing that I have done nothing I have done CP These verses create ambiguity as to the nature of dependent or inde- pendent clauses: This is perhaps best seen in a rough translation into Portuguese. In this semantic sense, the first stanza would seem to read as a cor- rective to the title. Furthermore, the action of doing something even if it remains unspoken seems to be in the past, as something that was done. The poem thus establishes rather confusing antagonistic relationships between its language and history: That is not to say that history or etymology has been eliminated.
The very terms of empirical classification are in fact Latin derivations: For exam- ple, moving from the passage just cited we read: The more the poem moves to operate outside such codes through the categorical repression of historicity, the more history reemerges as a negative force: Confusion can therefore only be tran- scended by the empirical imposition of signs stripped of timeliness or historicity.
Yet clearly, this itself is a hopelessly confused statement: To the contrary, the var- ious dispositions—placements—of nothing open vast possibilities for sociohistorical critique, which are perhaps best viewed elsewhere in the volume. The eponymous first poem of Spring and All begins within a geographic margin: By the road to the contagious hospital under the surge of the blue mottled clouds driven from the northeast—a cold wind.
Taken in this way, moreover, we will also see that the contrast of sky and earth is immediately relayed into one of abundance and scarcity: As such we receive an initial image of death: Now the grass, tomorrow the stiff curl of wildcarrot leaf One by one objects are defined— It quickens: Yet to what extent are such movements and dichotomies relegated only to the natural world?
By contrast, Williams leaves his leaves of grass rooted in the soil, evidently out of contact from the human world. The proof is in the grammatical struc- ture of the description: The central formal dichotomy of the poem is not merely life vs. The two architectural structures in the poem, more- over, are hallmarks of civilization: In the practice of the poem, however, such civilizing missions are in fact evacuated from either construction.
Meanwhile, the hospital is merely a repository for viral or bacterial infection, rather than a defense against it; the contagious hospital is a zone of death and the spread of more death. While not explicitly delineated by the poem, the rebirth of vegetation therefore acquires historical and political- economic resonance by its proximity to artificial structures. Nakedness is an attribute exclusively of those who wear clothes, 38 since those who have no concept of clothing have no clothes to lack.
Where do these flowers reside? Such questions are irrelevant because the immediate concern of the poem is merely the contrast of orange next to purple against a backdrop of white. Nevertheless, and rather unexpectedly, the gestalt among plant species is immediately transferred over in the social realm of race and gender relations: For he disregards them in order to engage in conversation with the metaphor he constructs. This is doubly problem- atic given that the male-gaze also works to objectify racial categories in terms of civilizational stature.
Significantly, such syntagmatic alignments occur within an econ- omy of scarcity and wealth. However, the transformation of natural objects into social and economic objects only occurs by means of profound confusion. But of course he does none of these things, because he is operating within a poetic conceit. There is no economic exchange in the poem, unless we confuse the color of flowers with the color of people.
The poetic structures he utilizes only reinforce this confusion.
The sole exceptions are two antibac- chial lines: Williams has just done nothing to us. And this is everything. This can then allow the instructor to raise interpretative questions of a higher order than whether or not students have understood the poem: Why would someone write about wheelbarrows and chickens?
What is so impor- tant about them? Is it even a poem at all? One cannot expect a high school teacher or a graduate student instructor of introductory literary studies to relay everything about the texts read in class. Writing in , Williams relates the genesis of the poem: It was pour- ing rain and there were white chickens walking about it.
The sight impressed me somehow as about the most important, the most inte- gral that it had ever been my pleasure to gaze upon. And the meter though no more than a fragment succeeds in portraying this pleasure flawlessly. Afaa Michael Weaver This cosmopolitan voice belongs to the human family, and it luxuriates in crossing necessary borders.
Handal says she recreates Lorca s journey in reverse, by narrating her journey through Spain. Accompanied by comprehensive clarifying notes and a travelogue, Handal s collection resonates with a scholarly understanding of Spain s religious and linguistic influences. Publishers Weekly Love and Strange Horses. New York Times If writing draws us closer to the Other, a voice so lucid as that of Nathalie Handal becomes a necessity.
Yolanda Castano Nathalie Handal s brilliant new volume of poetry, Poet in Andalucia about Spain, about the Middle East, about shared destinies and hopes touches me deeply: Rattapallax Magazine Poems of depth and weight, and the sorrowing song of longing and resolve. Alice Walker Poems of depth and weight, and the sorrowing song of longing and resolve. Toon meer Toon minder. Overige kenmerken Extra groot lettertype Nee. Reviews Schrijf een review. In winkelwagen Op verlanglijstje.
Gratis verzending 30 dagen bedenktijd en gratis retourneren Ophalen bij een bol. Nathalie Handal Love and Strange Horses 24, Scott E Donaldson Poet in America 28, Bremson Ed Bremson Poet in the Mall 10, Ned Swan Manhattan 8, Stephen Wolf I Speak of the City 56,
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