“Was not their mistake once more bred of the life of slavery that they had been living?—a life which was always looking upon everything, except mankind, animate and inanimate—‘nature,’ as people used to call it—as one thing, and mankind as another, it was natural to people thinking in this way, that they should try to make ‘nature’ their slave, since they thought ‘nature’ was something outside them” — William Morris

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Take the Dark Ecology Challenge 2: Who Am Us, Anyway?

Like consciousness, Julian Spahr's poem Gently Now, Don't Add to the Heartache has no reverse gear.

The poem's ontogeny maps onto a putative human phylogeny.

Thus the experience of reading the poem is the double experience of living through human history and living through the elegiac poem's relentless onward flow.

This dislocation yet similarity between the experience of reading and the experience of putative human history maps onto the dislocation/similarity between the “We” of the subject of the enunciation (the narrator) and the “We” of the subject of the enunciated (the “we” of human history).

The We of history in itself is fractured since this we decomposes into unique groups and individuals spread out across time, from a vast variety of disparate cultures and biomes.

(I am reminded of a question posed by Firesign Theater: “Who am us, anyway?”)

My working hypothesis then is that we are dealing with a constructivist not an object-oriented poem. A poem that constructs a paradoxical machine for subjectivity, so disorienting its desire for stability that it begins to work on it. A device for upgrading your consciousness. A consciousness-raising poem.

This would square with the Whitmanesque long lineation, the structure that defeats the fixated gaze and the aura.

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