Writing Against Time by Michael W. Clune

By Michael W. Clune

For hundreds of years, a relevant target of paintings has been to make us see the realm with new eyes. Thinkers from Edmund Burke to Elaine Scarry have understood this attempt because the try and create new varieties. yet as someone who has ever tired a track by means of repeated listening understands, creative shape is hardly ever resistant to sensation-killing behavior. a few of our such a lot bold writers—Keats, Proust, Nabokov, Ashbery—have been obsessed by way of this challenge. trying to create a picture that by no means will get previous, they scan with digital, perfect kinds. Poems and novels develop into workshops, as fragments of the genuine global are scrutinized for insights and the form of an awesome art is pieced jointly. those writers, voracious of their urge for food for any wisdom that would extra their target, locate assist in not likely areas. The common sense of totalitarian regimes, the phenomenology of song, the pathology of habit, and international commodity trade provide them with instruments and types for arresting neurobiological time. examining imperative works of the previous centuries in gentle in their shared ambition, Clune produces a revisionary realizing of a few of our most vital literature.

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Literary scholars take models from the sciences, but have little to give back. Zunshine, for instance, describes this new work as “applying insights from cognitive science to cultural representations” (Introduction to Cultural Studies, 1). One problem with some of this criticism, as both the critic Jonathan Kramnick and the scientist Paul Bloom have recently pointed out, is that the science applied by these critics is often dated and inaccurate, and the critics represent models as authoritative without acknowledging the scientific debates.

In his early essay “On Music and Words,” Nietzsche, while still under Wagner’s spell, nevertheless resists the master’s belief that the finale of Beethoven’s ninth symphony had exposed the limits of absolute music and revealed the necessity of joining words and music in a new “total” artwork. For Nietzsche, this gets things exactly wrong. Music represents a pure transmission that is only polluted by words; music communicates a state that resists translation into our familiar semantic categories.

Writers on time in the vitalistic tradition of Bergson,” Krieger writes, “have commonly claimed that . . language tends to give death to the dynamism of experience by spatializing it and thus freezing its undemarcated ceaseless flow of unrepeatable and indefinable, un-entitied units” (127). For such critics, and he counts Poulet chief among them, the reader of ­poetry attempts to look through the form for traces of its author’s experience. Such a reader must constantly work against form’s spatializing tendencies to glimpse the reality of lived duration, to recover the life of frozen bodies.

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