Tuesday, November 22, 2005

The names of minerals and the minerals themselves do not differ from each other, because at the bottom of both the material and the print is the beginning of an abysmal number of fissures. Words and rocks contain a language that follows a syntax of splits and ruptures. Look at any word long enough and you will see it open up into a series of faults, into a terrain of particles each containing its own void. The discomforting language of fragmentation offers no easy gestalt solution; the certainties of didactic discourse are hurled into the erosion of the poetic principle. Poetry being forever lost must submit to its own vacuity; it is somehow a product of exhaustion rather than creation. Poetry is always a dying language but never a dead language.

8 Comments:

Blogger Tracy Hamon said...

"Look at any word long enough and you will see it open up into a series of faults, into a terrain of particles each containing its own void."

This phrase, like Hegel's dialectic, requires an oppostional force to enable any vision of something like a synthesis. But once the synthesis is reached, you begin again the progressive notion which sparked the initial thought in the first place. There can never really be a solution, for with a solution comes an end.

What is dying? Is this similar to the eternal moment? If we live in the eternal moment are we not always dying? Would language always be something about to die, or something always past?

12:06 AM  
Blogger Mark said...

Hmm. I have to admit that most of the Hegel I know is second or third hand (Eisenstein's montage theory, Bloom's taxonomy; somewhere in the back of my head I have a vague memory of Nietzsche's critique of Hegel). Actually, I've been thinking of going to Hegel at the Bagel (a free lecture series) here in Toronto, but I haven't made it.

Do you mean that one needs to oppose the fragmentation this phrase talks about with something in order to get a full picture (i.e., read synthetically)? It kind of seems as though you're saying that there's a synthesis implicit in Smithson's conception too though.

I like the idea of process you're adding.

1:05 PM  
Blogger Tracy Hamon said...

I'm far from an expert at Hegel, but, yes, it seems what I saw in the quote struck me as similar to the triad. The movement as the "series of faults, into a terrain of particles each containing its own void" and I know Hegel never calls it a synthesis--he speaks of the whole of the Spirit-- but it seems to me this quote is saying a similar thing.

The use of the stone/word, as stability, then the movement of the splits and fissures, then perhaps the poem as a kind of solution drawn from the previous movement, but a poem, or language, that in its creation, dies in one respect then begins the process anew? Does that make sense?

It's rather a circular theory, and one that is interpreted in many different ways, but this is what I understood when I read the quote. Maybe I just didn't understand it? (I don't think I'll ever fully understand Hegel but I find his work strangely fascinating).

11:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One thing is for sure - Smithson is dead, so ultimately he was careless.

6:56 AM  
Blogger Mark said...

Tracy: That's interesting. It makes sense I think. I read it a little differently, and I was probably influenced to some degree by what I understand of Smithson's interest in entropy. I think I see the "open[ing] up" as less of a process in the word as a change in the viewer's perspective or understanding, as a realization on the part of the viewer rather than a change on the part of the word (I guess it’s possible to argue that that is in some sense a change in the word). I read it so that the dynamic is, if all else is equal, more or less unidirectional toward fragmentation and disorganization. Let me think a bit.

4:36 PM  
Blogger Mark said...

On second thought, with respect to entropy, "unidirectional toward fragmentation" is probably beside the point as well.

8:54 AM  
Blogger Tracy Hamon said...

Maybe it's the same either way we look at it. The poem as a closed system, but interpretation of the word(s) within the poem as unidirectional/circular? I think there may be Hegelian thinking in entropy, I might need to think on that more.

7:41 PM  
Blogger Tracy Hamon said...

I take that back. I don't think Smithson believes the poem is a closed system, even though it looks stable. I think he believes poetry fights against stasis in language through the use of the individual perspective in language.

11:39 AM  

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