Sunday, August 5, 2018

Lyotard says

The wisdom of nations is not only their skepticism, but also the “free life” of phrases and genres.
(Lyotard) 


Lyotard says that maybe prose is impossible. He points out that it is “tempted on one side by despotism, and on the other by anarchy”. The despotism is achieved by trying to become the genre of all genres (“the prose of popular Empire”), the anarchy by becoming an attempt to produce a disparate blob, an “unregulated assemblage of all phrases”, like a vagabond or, maybe, like Gertrude Stein.

Now I wholeheartedly agree. I hope that this applies to prose poetry, and in fact the only canonical influences I now have are Lyotard himself and Ms. Stein herself. I regard her pieces as basically poetry, revealing the glorious repetitive variability of phrases. Coffee and everything.

Every time I am polysemic I want to say every possible want-to-say. Language should be tested to destruction, on a semantic level. Syntax can go fuck itself.

Prose, Lyotard says, cannot become the unity of all genres, like despotism wants. Nor can it become their zero degree. Prose needs to try to be, he says, the multitude of genres and the multiplicity of their differends. I say that this applies to prose poetry, not just the trashy prose poetry of Baudelaire, but real prose poetry too.

Still, the zero degree is cool too. (He goes on to mention narratives, of course.) Ultimately, prose proper itself should tend to the “deritualized short story” where differends are not dissipated but neutralized. They persist in their contradiction. For (this) “prose is the people of anecdotes”, & thus the oppressor – everything from the cockwombles who produce television shows to the cockwombles who produce psychiatry, nationalism, and religion - will always come up against the free life of phrases and genres in the prose that is the people. The oppressor will come up against revolutionary and innovative prose like that of Jennifer S. Chesler.

Language is not a unity, nor should it be.



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