Friday, August 31, 2007


I comprehend that the idea is that rhetoric is a structure which can be seen to hold a threat... as Simon Goldhill puts it, again in an article from the Ekphrasis issue of CP, "to emasculate, defeat, humble its audience." A good listener, viewer, or reader "knows to resist, to be critical." I'm just saying that this is rhetorical, too: the idea is to make everyone a critic (not the same as wanting everyone to use critical skills, which is not only common sense, but the actual object of rhetoric, here turned on its head). Resistance is not all. Sure, we resist, but then we also partly yield. The idea of ideology makes communication and compromise into an intermediate stage in something dialectical. It's a matter of balance, though, and rebalancing. That's negative capability, that's life. As readers of poetry we keep going and keep things going and learn from the people with whom we are placed into contact... As in Empson's idea that the purpose of imaginative literature is to be involved with people who have different values than we do, and so on. Focused attention in not coercive, and rhetorical structures... forms in poetry included... facilitate focus. The rest is up to us, and what more can we ask. Our activism arises from and is nourished by the structures we encounter. If that's political, fine, but it's not merely political.

And there I sought to be lucid!
Currently reading :
Selected Poems Summer Knowledge: Summer Knowledge (New Directions Paperbook, 241)
By Delmore Schwartz

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