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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...

Sunday, February 10, 2013

2011

In 2011 I defined my research agenda like this:
My research agenda, for example, is explaining the development of late modernism in contemporary Spanish poetry and fusing together strands from intellectual and literary history through the work of authors who belong to both. It has several components and dimensions, some related to intellectual history, some to poetics, some to the work of specific poets or essayists. Some of the individual ideas I get in relation to this project might fizzle out and go nowhere. If I had to rely on one idea at a time, I would get very frustrated. If an idea didn't work, I would have to go back to work from scratch on another atomistically conceived idea. It would be easy to waste time, because an idea that went nowhere would have no interesting consequences if it weren't conceived as part of a research agenda.

Even poets work like that. Each of the poems in Lorca's Romancero gitano is not a lightbulb flash. Rather, he had the idea of fusing an elaborate neo-gongorine style with the anonymous ballad tradition and creating a series of gypsy characters. Working on that project, he came up with several secondary ideas based on previous snatches of folkloric and mythic material. He developed techniques that he used in several of the poems in the book. A dialogue (or interpellation) between the poetic narrator and the protagonist of the poem, for example, occurs in at least three poems. The flash of inspiration for Lorca might have been seeing that a technique he has already used once might work again in a different context.
I'm happy that I still agree with this description. There hasn't been too much "drift."

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