By Oren Izenberg
"Because it's not that i am silent," George Oppen wrote, "the poems are bad." What does it suggest for the goodness of an artwork to rely on its disappearance? In Being quite a few, Oren Izenberg bargains a brand new option to comprehend the divisions that manage twentieth-century poetry. He argues that crucial clash isn't really among types or aesthetic politics, yet among poets who search to maintain or produce the incommensurable particularity of expertise by way of making robust gadgets, and poets whose radical dedication to summary personhood turns out altogether incompatible with experience--and with poems.
Reading around the obvious gulf that separates conventional and avant-garde poets, Izenberg finds the typical philosophical urgency that lies at the back of varied varieties of poetic difficulty--from Yeats's esoteric symbolism and Oppen's minimalism and silence to O'Hara's pleased slightness and the Language poets' rejection of conventional aesthetic satisfactions. For those poets, what starts off as a realistic query in regards to the behavior of literary life--what distinguishes a poet or team of poets?--ends up as an ontological inquiry approximately social existence: what's an individual and the way is a group attainable? within the face of the violence and dislocation of the 20 th century, those poets withstand their will to mastery, turn away from the sensual richness in their most powerful paintings, and undermine the particularity in their inventive and ethical visions--all with a purpose to permit personhood itself to turn out to be an incontrovertible fact making an unrefusable declare.
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Extra resources for Being Numerous: Poetry and the Ground of Social Life (20/21)
A History Containing Poetry Being Numerous is a historical book. It seeks to retell a portion of the history of twentieth-century poetry on changed conceptual grounds, and to describe the consequences for poetry of a philosophical concern with personhood that emerges with a new intensity and a heightened self-consciousness in an era of unprecedented historical violence. As I have already begun to show, deemphasizing one taxonomic opposition—between the traditionalist poet and the avant-garde poet—in favor of another—the poet whose primary constructive investments are in the making of poems and the poet whose primary conceptual investments lie in the direction of persons—will require me to make some counterintuitive claims about the ontology of poems and of persons, to forward arguments about the oblique relation of poetic intentionality to the realized work of verbal art, and to offer some revisionary accounts of how we ought to go about linking thoughts about poetry to thoughts about social life and to political desires.
A kernel of such doubt haunts even our most intimate relations beyond correction or philosophical purgation. ” To put this another way, Cavell denies that his ineradicable core of skepticism is the same as a failure to perceive or to know the personhood of persons: INTRODUCTION 20 Cavell considers and rejects a number of possible options for such a competing way—a person might be regarded a king, he proposes, or, more appallingly, as a thing. But in neither of these cases, he argues, have we failed to see persons.
Rather, by totalizing the scene of judgment—by treating the whole world as a magnification of the art world—O’Hara dramatizes the consequence for social life of using a single scale—not taste, but love—to determine the value of a thing, regardless of what sort of thing it is. O’Hara understands “poetry” less as a collection of objects that appear than as a medium in which persons, things, or actions can appear. In his effort to respect both the particularity and the abstraction of his loves, he reimagines a world in which any kind of person has the potential to be valued, whether or not any particular person happens to value him.