Monday, May 21, 2007

Response to Kasey's comment on previous blog entry + Hejinian post

My knee jerk reaction was to talk about the New Sentence in terms of its syntax like mathematics, but as Davie says, "any amount of older poetry can be seen to employ syntax-like-mathematics."

It is hard to dismiss the superficial structure of the New Sentence (i.e. paragraph shaped text, usually with a title) as simply artifice.

Kasey said, "The emphasis [of the New Sentence poem] is thus on abstract design over emotive consistency." But why would Lyn Hejinian title her book My Life if there was no emphasis on emotive consistency? Any reader who picks up a book with the title "My Life" automatically invests something in the title, and will, no matter how the syllogistic movement is controlled throughout the book, make emotional connections based on the title. It seems to me that the title of a book or poem is not a superficial structure at all, but rather an intrinsic part of a poem that the New Sentence fails to recognize as "structure."

I think if Davie saw two different versions of My Life, (and I mean two of the same edition--the 1980's version, for example) he might come to two different conclusions. If he read the book cover to cover, he might talk about its syntax like mathematics, but if he read the online version (which, to my understanding, is not supported by the author) then he would likely talk about each sentence in terms of its syntax like music, since each sentence in the poem provides a complete thought and experience.

I'm still trying to figure out if the poem loses its torque in the blog version because of the visual separations. If this is the case, then the paragraph form is not a superficial structure at all. Hejinian says the paragraph is a "unit representing a single moment of time," and that a poem is a "mind." But what, exactly, does she mean by a "single moment of time?" It takes the reader--no matter how slow a reader they are--a finite amount of time to read a paragraph. I wonder if Hejinian would consider a month's worth of her sentences on the blog as the equivalent of a paragraph.

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