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Past Valve Book Events

cover of the book Theory's Empire

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cover of the book The Literary Wittgenstein

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cover of the book Graphs, Maps, Trees

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cover of the book How Novels Think

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cover of the book The Trouble With Diversity

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cover of the book What's Liberal About the Liberal Arts?

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cover of the book The Novel of Purpose

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The Valve - Closed For Renovation

Happy Trails to You

What’s an Encyclopedia These Days?

Encyclopedia Britannica to Shut Down Print Operations

Intimate Enemies: What’s Opera, Doc?

Alphonso Lingis talks of various things, cameras and photos among them

Feynmann, John von Neumann, and Mental Models

Support Michael Sporn’s Film about Edgar Allen Poe

Philosophy, Ontics or Toothpaste for the Mind

Nazi Rules for Regulating Funk ‘n Freedom

The Early History of Modern Computing: A Brief Chronology

Computing Encounters Being, an Addendum

On the Origin of Objects (towards a philosophy of computation)

Symposium on Graeber’s Debt

The Nightmare of Digital Film Preservation

Richard Petti on Occupy Wall Street: America HAS a Ruling Class

Bill Benzon on Whatwhatwhatwhatwhatwhatwhat?

Nick J. on The Valve - Closed For Renovation

Bill Benzon on Encyclopedia Britannica to Shut Down Print Operations

Norma on Encyclopedia Britannica to Shut Down Print Operations

Bill Benzon on What’s an Object, Metaphysically Speaking?

john balwit on What’s an Object, Metaphysically Speaking?

William Ray on That Shakespeare Thing

Bill Benzon on That Shakespeare Thing

William Ray on That Shakespeare Thing

JoseAngel on That Shakespeare Thing

Bill Benzon on Objects and Graeber's Debt

Bill Benzon on A Dirty Dozen Sneaking up on the Apocalypse

JoseAngel on A Dirty Dozen Sneaking up on the Apocalypse

JoseAngel on Objects and Graeber's Debt

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Friday, August 31, 2007

Five Easy Pieces - or so one might have thought (Nice Derangement of Epitaphs edition)

Posted by John Holbo on 08/31/07 at 12:17 AM

I owe Luther B. a chick-lit post. I’ll try to get to that over the weekend. Meanwhile, I’m teaching “Philosophy and Literature” this semester - great fun, of course. Lots of meaning and intention stuff, so inevitably ‘Wordsworth on the beach’ stuff is getting an airing: “A slumber did my spirit seal". Here’s something tangential to that, but convenient for certain polemical purposes I won’t bore you with just right now. From Geoffrey Hartman, Easy Pieces [amazon]:

Epitaphs, of course, are conventionally associated with consoling and pleasant words. Here, however, not all the words are consoling. They approach a negative that could foreclose the poem: “No ... No ... Neither ... Nor ...” Others even show Wordsworth’s language penetrated by an inappropriate subliminal punning. So “diurnal” (line 7) divides into “die” and “urn,” and “course” may recall the older pronunciation of “corpse.” Yet these condensations are troublesome rather than expressive; the power of the second stanza resides predminantly in the euphemistic displacement of the word grave by an image of gravitation ("Rolled round in earth’s diurnal course"). And though there is no agreement on the tone of this stanza, it is clear that a subvocal word is uttered without being written out. It is a word that rhymes with “fears” and “years” and “hears,” but which is closed off by the very last syllable of the poem: “trees.” Read “tears,” and the animating, cosmic metaphor comes alive, the poet’s lament echoes through nature as in pastoral elegy. “Tears,” however, must give way to what is written, to a dull yet definitive sound, the anagram “trees.” (pp. 149-50)

T-R-E aw crap.

Nice derangement of anagrams, indeed. Still, all heterography aside, not a bad little reading. (Umberto Eco noticed this little problem first, in “Overinterpreting Texts”.)


I believe it works with the Danish form, and it’s close enough anyway.

By Jonathan Goodwin on 08/31/07 at 02:00 AM | Permanent link to this comment

An Approximanagram?

By John Holbo on 08/31/07 at 02:44 AM | Permanent link to this comment

I’ve always found the penultimate line problematic. My, and I think the popular, assumption is that the ‘Roll’d’ is in the passive, with the subject (’She’ as in ‘She is Roll’d round in earth’s diurnal course) ellided for obviously metric reasons.

Yet reading the poem(s) lately, I’m less sure, and wonder if we are not in the past tense, the same time whereby England’s ‘morning’s showed...night’s concealed the bowers where Lucy played.’ Why not? Wordsworth manages to render the ‘She’ straightforwardly enough beforehand (okay, perhaps why he need not in the second from last line).
A small point, perhaps, but it lends the whole series of ‘Lucy’poems less of the elegiac tone for which they are equally lauded and ridiculed, and suggests a more feral nature, one closer to Edmund Burke’s Sublime, a nature in which Lucy, in life, not just as a cadaver, is no more or less than rocks, stones, trees, tossed about similarly.
Sorry; this is more tangential than the original post.

By on 08/31/07 at 06:14 PM | Permanent link to this comment

YM “As lumber did my spirit seal”. HTH.

By nnyhav on 09/02/07 at 09:59 PM | Permanent link to this comment

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