Monday, October 22, 2007

Silliman, Stein's Dog, the "New Sentence," Emotion

I am thinking of [reading Silliman in preparation for his visit]...rhythm of sentences, attention. economy, emotion, materiality. integration. particulars, form. There's something organic or phenomenological about Ron' approach to poetic production, to form, and the economy of production and reception. A way of thinking totality without idealizing in an immaterial or transcendental way. Immanent form, which keeps the part/whole relationship together through a material mode of attention, attention to the materiality of attention and thing attended.

A dog drinking water. Well, I have paid attention to my cat drinking water, listened to the rhythm. Which reminds me now of Zukofsky's use of Reznikoff's "the ceaseless weaving of the uneven water" to describe what he means by "Sincerity." (the sincerity of the line? of the poet? of both together for the reader?) In Reznikoff there's an image (an experiential image, I think) evoked by his single sentence, whereas in Stein it's the sentences themeselves, as they weave together, that are sincere or, for her, emotional. (Tho, certainly, rhythm plays a huge part in Rez's overall structure.) They--the sentences-- are what creates the totality of the form, and they, the sentences/waves, are preserved in their particularity as they work to make up that form. Stein says this can be seen by "anybody listening to any dog's drinking," that we realize/experience that "sentences are not emotional but paragraphs are" by way of what is available in the everyday, at the smallest level of temporal/material units. It took me 'til today to really think this was right. I thought back to the attention I have paid to my cat's rhythmic drinking and how, in my attention to that rhythm, to its variations---slurp, slurp. slurp. slurpslurp, slurp. slurp, slurp, slurp, slurp, slurp. slurpurpurpurp, slrup, slurp.--I *felt* pleasure, love, sympathy, delight, amusement, connection, fascination.

Now what is the "new sentence" in relation to this emotional context? The following explanation seems important and conclusive in light of Ron's overall argument, yet I find it elusive, still: "This continual torquing of sentences [in Bob Perelman's a.k.a.] is a traditional quality of poetry, which in poetry is most often accomplished by linebreaks, and earlier on by rhyme as well. Thus poetic form has moved into the interiors of prose." If verse "moves" into the "interior" of prose, then we have the issue of non-narrative (an inadequate term) as an alternate temporal mode, which establishes meaning in a material way, without closure, through movement and a new way of thinking incorporation. The function of poetry has shifted, the possibilities and requirements of prose have been challenged. The historical, material particulars are not 'redeemed" as they might be in Zuk or Rez, nor are they held together as a phenomenological experience of cubist like perceptions a la Stein. They are "new" because they provide a context for units of language and meaning to interact and to form a multi-referential, ever-expanding whole. That is, "referential focus"--between sentences and paragraphs--and "writing which focus[s] the reader onto the level of the sentence and below, as well as the uits above," "incorporate[s] all the elements of language." What then is the emotional force of this mode of writing and form? What does an open totality feel like?

No comments: