Skip to main content

You do the Math (3)

Hejinian's Writing is an Aid to Memory

Section 34 of Lyn Hejinian’s Writing is an Aid to Memory contains a self-conscious and self-referential catalogue of combinations which I have listed here in full in respect of the structure of taxonomy which does not respond well to paraphrasing or selection (Figure 1: Paratactic Combination of Combinatory Schemas--Note: can't find this figure at present will add when I do).

Within this taxonomy of combinations, internal cohesion in the section is based on the potentiality of the interaction of any number of these so that each moment of framing the phrase-strings into form is simply the onset of other binding hermeneutic potentialities which again open up the frame so as to then close it based along other lines. And what is true for the section is also true for the poem as a whole This movement is conveyed by the first and last phrases of my list: the anaphora implied by “making the body binding,” which suggests a closure of the anaphoric theme of combination running throughout the section, in interaction with the cataphora of the fall back into the text of “restating the reverse,” which makes the reader go back over the text reinscribing new themes. Alone these two phrases undermine the text unit, the anaphoric tendency coming paradoxically at the end, the cataphoric at the beginning, but coupled with the last phrase of the section the very idea of a closed unit becomes insupportable. “Rim bay loops the times right,” gives the exterior edge of the section an open space beyond the closed unit, a “bay,” but the bay loops the rim back to the beginning of the section which is why I have placed it afterthe first phrase in brackets on my list.

This section, due to its proliferation of possible combinatory schemas and all their possible inter-combinations, has no “rims” to speak of. It is not a bound body thus it is not really a unit at all due to the effect of combinatory motilities within it. This is complex enough but one must also come to terms with the means by which this law of combinatory motility is presented, which is in a specular paratactic format which thus privileges parataxis above all other schemas, yet by seeming to relegate it to a supplementary status. Parataxis is useful here because it allows the various tropes of combination to interact without imposing a controlling ideology of structure or form upon them. It has the same regulatory status then that I argued for the phrase as it is a median position in a structure between individual units and their combination into the closed semantic formats of section or poem.

If Bob Perelman is correct in saying in his essay “Parataxis and Narrative,” that “Parataxis of a more thorough and disorientating kind than anything the old handbooks could cite is the dominant if seemingly random mode of our time,”[i] it is because of this double dynamic of dominance falling back at each stage into the “seemingly random.” In section 34, because parataxis is the chosen combinatory schema for the presentation of combinatory schemas, this effects its dominance as the meta-combination of the poem unit. However because as a schema it is really at the base level of organisation, it is impossible for it to retain such a super-position. As a mode of combination it is double-handed, somewhat disingenuous and sly. In seeming to be random it combines the two basic forces of poetic language as Kristeva and numerous others have noted, the rupturing power of the semiotic (the random) coupled with the negating power of the thetic (the motivated).[ii] Parataxis is not significant in its motivations of signs or phrases, except in a very minimal motivation of phrase into lists of phrases working backwards from parataxis to taxonomy in a curious reversal. Yet nor is it insignificant for any combination of more than one will in accord with the basic laws of hermeneutics, produce an inter-phraseology from which significance will be produced. Silliman’s law of syllogism.

Endnotes:
[i]Bob Perelman, The Marginalization of Poetry: Language, Writing and History (New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1996) 60.
[ii]Julia Kristeva, Revolution in Poetic Language trans. Leon Roudiez (New York: Columbia University Press, 1984)
Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

John Ashbery, Some Trees

John Ashbery, Some Trees
(New York: Corinth Books, 1970)
Originally published (New York: 1956)


Close Readings and annotations of every poem in the collection March-April 1997 in preparation for In the Process of Poetry: The New York School and the Avant-Garde (Bucknell UP, 2001) currently in the process of complete update (2013)


"Two Scenes," 9

This is a poem about duality so in this sense the title actually refers to what the poem is ‘about’. John Shoptaw notes, for example, the phonic mirroring of the poem which he sees as an element later phased out as is the “linear introversion” to be found here. Thus we have the following phonic recurrences: “we see us as we”; “Destiny...destiny”; “News...noise”; “...hair/Air”; “-y” and rhymes of section 2; and “...old man/...paint cans”.


This simple but subtle semiotic device is then developed structurally as well, as the title hints. So ‘scene’ 2 reflects back internally onto ‘scene’ 1. “Machinery” recalls the train as does the canal; g…

John Ashbery, Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror

John Ashbery, Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror
(Manchester: Carcanet, 1977)
First Published (New York: Viking, 1975)

Close Readings and annotations of every poem in the collection March-April 1997 in preparation for In the Process of Poetry: The New York School and the Avant-Garde (Bucknell UP, 2001)


Introduction:

· Shoptaw notes that this return to poetry is dominated by images of waiting, that narrative (especially fairy-tale) returns, as do the musically based titles, there are no prose poems and no fixed forms such as sonnets of pantoums, most are free verse paragraphs, also bring forward a new American speech, more direct and inclusive.



“As One Put Drunk into a Packet-Boat”, 1-2

· Shoptaw notes this was the original title for the collection, marking a self-consciously Romantic return to poetry, recording the thoughts of “I” from afternoon to night, just outside a childhood country home. Has a pastoral crisis narrative in that a summer storm gathers but passes leaving the poet relieved i…

The Grenfell Tower Murders

The 72 victims of Grenfell Tower Fire were murdered, victims of the violence of neglect.  Here is the proof.
A year ago, a fire started on the fourth floor of Grenfell Tower, due to a faulty appliance.  The fire spread quickly up the side of the building because the tower had been refurbished in 2016.  Flammable cladding had been added to the exterior building as part of an £8 million refit which appears to have primarily made the tower more cosmetically pleasing.  The money was not spent on improving fire safety within the building, it would appear, a cause for concern for residents’ groups for years. The initial cladding that was to be used is not illegal in the UK but its use is restricted in other countries.  To save costs a cheaper version was eventually attached to the building, a more flammable version. 
Once the fire caught, residents were advised to stay in their flats.  In 99% of all cases this is the best advice, because flats are designed to be “fire resistant boxes” surr…