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 paintings to depend on its disappearance? In Being a variety of, Oren Izenberg bargains a brand new solution to comprehend the divisions that arrange twentieth-century poetry. He argues that an important clash isn't really among kinds or aesthetic politics, yet among poets who search to maintain or produce the incommensurable particularity of expertise by way of making strong items, 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 various different types 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 concerning the behavior of literary life--what distinguishes a poet or team of poets?--ends up as an ontological inquiry approximately social existence: what's anyone 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 ingenious and ethical visions--all with a view to let personhood itself to come to be an proven fact making an unrefusable declare.

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Additional info for Being Numerous: Poetry and the Ground of Social Life (20/21)

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For certitude is what is implied by the parenthetical and unelucidated injunction to “compare” Yeats’s poem “A Deep-sworn Vow” to the Wittgensteinian idea of person-seeing as aspect seeing. Here are the relevant passages to which Cavell directs us. First Wittgenstein: INTRODUCTION 22 beloved that Yeats wishes to recover in sleep or in death is not an aspect, not a way of taking the person. It is an origin—a template of meaningful personhood given countenance in Yeats’s lyric. To encounter this face is precisely to encounter the substance of what allows a person to count as a person.

1 R. P. ”5 But what distinguishes the “essentially” Yeatsian critic from the accidental Yeatsian who takes up the poet as a representative case in point, even early on in the development of a critical method or the formalization of an interpretive system? On O’Hara’s account, the distinction is not just a matter of priority but of causality. That is, it is precisely the attempt to grapple with the “sublime” of Yeats’s imaginative power in all its totalizing idiosyncrasy—“excited, passionate, fantastical”6—that provokes the critic into a rival systematization of imaginative power, and into offering passionate rationalization as a way for all readers.

76 What is most striking about this impulse toward specificity (and what makes Dickinson paradigmatic for historical poetics) is that it results not so much in a hermeneutic “approach” specific to Dickinson’s century (or to any more finely parsed moment), nor in an account of poetic genre that belongs to her cultural context, but rather in an account of poetic making so fully particularized that only description will do it justice. “[T]he difficulty of reading Dickinson’ manuscripts,” Jackson argues, “is that even in their fragmentary extant forms, they provide so much context that individual lyrics become practically illegible” (38).

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