Nature is not natural and can never be naturalized — Graham Harman

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Bryant's Politics of Parataxis

It's one of my favorite syntactical tropes: without subordination, you just list, Ginsberg style. This is why you must, if you haven't already, read Levi's post on what he admires.

Compare this marvelous essay by Leigh Hunt, “A Now, Descriptive of a Hot Day” (just a short extract):

Now the rosy- (and lazy-) fingered Aurora, issuing from her saffron house, calls up the moist vapours to surround her, and goes veiled with them as long as she can; till Phoebus, coming forth in his power, looks everything out of the sky, and holds sharp, uninterrupted empire from his throne of beams. Now the mower begins to make his sweeping cuts more slowly, and resorts oftener to the beer. Now the carter sleeps a-top of his load of hay, or plods with double slouch of shoulder, looking out with eyes winking under his shading hat, and with a hitch upward of one side of his mouth.  Now he little girl at her grandmother's cottage-door watches the coaches that go by, with her hand held up over her sunny forehead. Now labourers look well resting in their white shirts at the doors of rural ale-houses. Now an elm is fine there, with a seat under it; and horses drink out of the trough, stretching their yearning necks with loosened collars; and the traveller calls for his glass of ale, having been without one for more than ten minutes; and his horse stands wincing at the flies, giving sharp shivers of his skin, and moving to and fro his ineffectual docked tail; and now Miss Betty Wilson, the host's daughter, comes streaming forth in a flowered gown, and ear-rings,  carrying with four of her beautiful fingers  the foaming glass, for which, after the traveller has drank it, she receives with an indifferent eye, looking another way, the lawful twopence.

There is an emergent property of paratactic syntax: it builds a sense of environmentality. You are surrounded not only by the heat but by the caring mind of Leigh Hunt, or Levi.

Paratactic syntax is like parallel electrical circuits: the energy state of each phrase is preserved. Each phrase shines with equal brightness. It's an intense style, one might be tempted to say object-oriented.

There is an ontology of parataxis: flat. And there's a politics: inclusive, not-all sets of unique beings. Love it. 

No comments: