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Anxious gatekeeping

Analogous to nervous cluelessness is something we might call “anxious gatekeeping.”   This is desire to police the borders of poetry, or of...

Thursday, May 19, 2011

How I Wrote 11 Years Ago

THE majority of critical studies devoted to Francisco Brines insist upon the universality of his concerns. For Carlos Bousoño, the author of an important early study, Brines's poetry, while rooted in the particularity of his experience, ultimately transcends the merely personal, suppressing details that do not pertain to his more general themes: death, the passage of time, and the transitory nature of human existence. José Olivio Jiménez, likewise, speaks of "la indiscutible universalidad de su canto hondamente elegiaco, en el que, a un tiempo, el hombre se empeña en afirmar su débil realidad y la hermosura del mundo y de la vida " (Brines, Antología poética 8). Man and his existential problems are also crucial for North-American Hispanists like Andrew Debicki and Judith Nantell: "Francisco Brines ' Insistencias en Luzbel (1977) presents the reader with highly complex and often cryptic portraits of the modes of being displayed by man as he lives and works out his existence" (Nantell, "Modos de ser" 33). Whatever their differences, these critics share an underlying commitment to one of the fundamental tenets of humanist ideology: the universality of human experience. Thus Brines's poetry, in the eyes of its most influential interpreters, comes to epitomize the values of humanist existentialism.

From "Francisco Brines and the Humanist Closet," 2000.

I'd like to say I've improved substantially, but I don't find much to criticize here. I use the word "study" (studies) in the first two sentences. I would try to avoid that now. I don't like the word "important" very much. The phrase "whatever their differences" sounds a little vague to me as well. Did I mean that they were different because some were Spaniards and some Americans?

The rhetorical effect I was after was to cite particularly banal or over-general statements by other critics in order make my point, that critics should have approached him in more particularist, less general ways. At the same time, I was not overly disrespectful of these critics. Since I am arguing, in the rest of the article, for a homoerotic reading, I wanted to find a lot of quotes with the word "man" / "hombre." I'll give myself a B or B- here. It is clear and achieves the effect of hanging the other critics by their own rope, but it is not particularly elegant.

2 comments:

Clarissa said...

I don't look at my writing from years ago because I know I will cringe with shame. I tried reading an old essay a while ago and encountered the following sentence: "The fact that the author addresses this topic is explained by the fact that the author. . ."

My face was red with shame for days after that.

Jonathan said...

By the same token, that means you've made progress. You wouldn't write like that today! There is no shame in having improved your writing so dramatically.