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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...

Friday, February 8, 2013

Anachronism

Anachronism is a rupture in time or chronology. Two events which are simultaneous in time, but belong to separate periods. Or an event that happens sooner or later than it should. Modernism studies invites examination of anachronisms, because the idea of a modernism contained neatly within 1910-1939 doesn't really work.

Belatedness is essential to modernity. Yeats felt that modern poetry was already a third wave:

Shakespearean fish swam the sea, far away from land;
Romantic fish swam in nets coming to the hand;
What are all those fish that lie gasping on the strand?

Qtd. in Mayhew

Silver thought that, since Spain didn't have the proper kind of romanticism, the poetry of Cernuda was a restitution (Ruin and Restitution). What happens, then, is that Cernuda is out of synch with contemporary European poetry (Breton, Trakl, Eliot?). His poetry is doing the cultural work that some other poet should have done 100 years before. That may be the case, but then literary history is shot to hell, because things don't line up they way you would want them to.

You have to have chronology before you have achronology.

My first scholarly citation was when I was 11 years old. My father was talking about modernization or something at the dinner table, and I said something to the effect that it was different to modernize in a world already modern. I'll have to find the actual quote, because it is a bit better than this, but that was the basic idea.

"We are born young into a world already old." I forgot who said that. "What do make of a diminished thing" (Frost).

This is more interesting than a world in which synchronicity is not a problem. It creates more opportunities for me to say interesting things, at least.

It is anachronistic to think that Spain's cultural destiny is still determined by the "morada vital" that ceased to exist in 1492 (and actually much before that).

I should read Nietzsche on history, next.



1 comment:

Leslie said...

I had not seen those Yeats lines before, they are marvelous.