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Poetics and Poetry Discussion

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Mary Morstan Female, 54, New Zealand (6/21/2013 7:45:00 AM)

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I get it about entering language, but I think I'm bigger than a word. I'm addicted to language but, for me, it's wordlessness that is sacred. It's all been said before, but words are lies, each word easily replaced by another word ad infinituum or what the word signifies signifying something entirely different in another language. I read this on language recently:


Throughout his work, Lacan varies Heidegger’s motif of language as the house of being: language is not man’s creation and instrument, it is man who “dwells” in language: “Psychoanalysis should be the science of language inhabited by the subject.” Lacan’s “paranoiac” twist, his additional Freudian turn of the screw, comes from his characterization of this house as a torture-house: “In the light of the Freudian experience, man is a subject caught in and tortured by language.” Not only does man dwell in the “prison-house of language” (the title of Fredric Jameson’s early book on structuralism) , he dwells in a torture-house of language: the entire psychopathology deployed by Freud [...] are scars of this permanent torture, so many signs of an original and irremediable gap between subject and language, so many signs that man cannot ever be at home in his own home. This is what Heidegger ignores [...] This is also why, in order to get the truth to speak, it is not enough to suspend the subject’s active intervention and let language itself speak – as Elfriede Jelinek put it with extraordinary clarity: “Language should be tortured to tell the truth.” It should be twisted, denaturalized, extended, condensed, cut and reunited, made to work against itself. Language as the “big Other” is not an agent of wisdom to whose message we should attune ourselves, but a place of cruel indifference and stupidity. The most elementary form of torturing one’s language is called poetry – imagine what a complex form like sonnet does to
language: it forces the free flow of speech into a Procrustean bed of a fixed shape of rhythm and rhymes...

Slavoj Žižek

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  • Lamont Palmer (6/21/2013 1:28:00 PM) Post reply | Read 2 replies

    “Language should be tortured to tell the truth.” It should be twisted, denaturalized, extended, condensed, cut and reunited, made to work against itself. Language as the “big Other” is not an agent of wisdom to whose message we should attune ourselves, but a place of cruel indifference and stupidity. The most elementary form of torturing one’s language is called poetry – imagine what a complex form like sonnet does to
    language: it forces the free flow of speech into a Procrustean bed of a fixed shape of rhythm and rhymes...'

    I concur completely. Thats what strong poetry does. -LP

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    • Lamont Palmer (6/21/2013 4:41:00 PM) Post reply

      Semantics, Sue. I also call it wordplay. Whatever one labels it, this quote describes accurately what happens to words in the hands of imaginative poets. -LP

    • S. A. S. (6/21/2013 3:25:00 PM) Post reply

      Apples and oranges. I call it wordplay, you call it torture.

  • Mary Morstan (6/21/2013 7:47:00 AM) Post reply

    " ad infinitum"

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