Sept. 13 Class Notes

  • Brave Spaces vs. Safe Spaces
  • CRT Concepts and Terms
    • racism is ordinary and serves intentional purposes
    • interest convergence / material determinism
    • race is constructed, and racialization varies in response to economic needs
    • unique voice of color (what whites will never know)
    • idealism vs materialism
    • revisionist history takes into account experiences of POC
    • liberalism: color blindness and rights
    • structural determinism
    • If “Narratives provide a language to bridge the gaps in imagination and conception that give rise to the differend.” then what can non-narrative literary forms like experimental poetry do?
  • Expressive Language – Amiri Baraka
    • Specificity gives culture it’s use; a result of context
    • Context is social, of which economic is currently largest part
      • *the current language of culture derives from economics: production, value, worth, capital, etc.
    • “Then words, like their users, have a hegemony.”
    • “Words’ meanings, but also the rhythm and syntax that frame and propel their concatenation, seek their culture as the final reference for what they are describing of the world.”
    • “And all cultures communicate exactly what they have, a powerful motley of experience.”
  • Delusions of Whiteness in the Avant-Garde, Cathy Park Hong
    • there is always a subject, always a specter, and they are never raceless
    • both mainstream and experimental poetry treat race and identity politics the same: preferring it to be indirect, incidental, and invisible
    • avant-garde interrogates the role of art as institution and collapses art and life
    • some modes of avant-garde writing: polyvocality, hybridity, collage, stream-of-consciousness, improvisation, cross-genre, heteroglossia, code-switching, linguistic disruption, open-ended possibility
    • poetry as a site of agitation
  • Rejection of Closure
    • open vs closed texts
    • failure of language to encompass or represent
    • qualities of an open text: ambiguity, unfixed, incomplete, (distinct) infinitude [vs. universality], form to differentiate but not contain;
    • “The essential question here concerns the writer’s subject position.”
    • modes of an open text: repetition, generative, non-authoritarian, foregrounds process, resists fixity, reduction, and commodification, non-linear, repetition, atemporality, aporias, constraints, disruptive of established symbolic order
    • language as a pattern-system
  • Baraka & Hejinian
    • talk about music and form (active, constructed, multiple, responsive, generative)
    • hegemony of language (Baraka: “final dictation of words over their users”; Hejinian: “Language discovers what one might know, which in turn is always less than what language might say.”)
    • Baraka: “Words’ meanings, but also the rhythm and syntax that frame and propel their concatenation, seek their culture as the final reference for what they are describing of the world … But for every item in the world, there are a multiplicity of definitions that fit. And every word we use could mean something else.” with Hejinian: “…words are not equal to the world, that a blur of displacement, a type of parallax, exists in the relation between things (events, ideas, objects) and the words for them–a displacement producing a gap.” CRT’s: differend
      • *experimental poetry inhabits that gap rather than trying to close it, tries to open it
    • Language as desire. Desire for knowledge, for culture. Male and female, white and non-white. Male / white desire is dominating, dangerous, distorted, possessive, violent. Rankine’s “right of access.”
      • *inaccessibility as a mode of poets of color resisting white supremacy?
      • universality vs. specificity / context



About Erica Mena

Erica Mena is a Puerto Rican poet, translator, and book artist. Pronouns: they/them.
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