Tuesday, September 01, 2009


Philosophy of Right: "The external embodiment of an act is composed of many parts, and may be regarded as capable of being divided into an infinite number of particulars. An act may be looked on as in the first instance coming into contact with only one of these particulars. But the truth of the particular is the universal." Or the Volosinov passage David Harvey quotes:

Consequently, a word is not an expression of inner personality; rather, inner personality is an expressed or inwardly impelled word. And the word is an expression of social intercourse, of the social interaction of material personalities, of producers.

And where the wiggle room for agency? It is there. Somewhere. Althusser insists ideology almost never misses its target. And sometimes it does. Horseshoes and hand grenades.

I suspect the problem of agency has something to do with rest. One is at rest when one is arrested. The fourth section of Andrew Crozier's Veil Poem published by Burning Deck in 1974:

Bend back the edges and pull what you see
into a circle. The ground you stand on
becomes an arc, the horizon another
each straight line swells out
leaving no single point at rest except
where the pitch of your very uprightness
bisects the projection of your focal plane.

Leaving no single point at rest — a ceaseless wave of antagonisms, sonic or otherwise. No rest. No rest except. It is not enough to respond to contradictions or aspire to reconcile identifiable antagonisms; one must insist on the generative power of further unanticipated and contingent antagonisms. The Veil Poem for my own purposes the Crozier poem that counts most — one that makes a gesture toward his relationship with Prynne.

In Prynne there is no rest. In Prynne antagonism and internal contradiction are greeted with comparable force, generating a further set of contradictions. And in a contradictory sort of double movement the poems pile wreckage on wreckage, ascending away from the material base as they perform philological excavations that descend into the engine room of living. I see this as a general movement in the work that characterizes all except perhaps the earliest poems. And if such a broad-stroked reading ain't completely off center one must wonder how much rest was had within city limits during the siege of Stalingrad.

Intercourse is always social, always an erotic species of commerce informed more or less by the interminable exchange of goods and services. Where this is the case there is no room for rest. Rest = caesura. Some poems epic in scope and breath are nothing more than an ongoing caesura extended across far too many miles. Caesuras are the park benches of poetry and like undeveloped commercial properties, ideological caesuras are material vacuums that will be filled one way or another sooner or later. Force at rest is never force as such.