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Friday, February 15, 2013

Poetics of Self Consciousness

A guy wrote a book recently called Lorca, the poetics of self consciousness. It is a very good book, but I don't recognize it as being about the poetics of self consciousness. I wrote a book in 1994 called the poetics of self consciousness, twentieth century spanish poetry, where I didn't talk at all about Lorca. I just couldn't deal with Lorca at this point in my development as a scholar, and with the theoretical framework I was using. I should have, but I didn't. The newish book on Lorca by this other good scholar doesn't cite my book with a quite similar title. He shouldn't, maybe, because I don't deal with Lorca.

So we have a series of interesting méconnaissances. I am fascinated by such moments.

*For some reason I can't see what the other scholar as doing as being about poetic self-consciousness, as I understand it. I recognize that the book is well-researched and has interesting things to say about Lorca's poetry, but it doesn't seem to get at what I would say about Lorca and his poetics. That's good, because he hasn't written my new book about Lorca. I feel ungenerous in not wanting to admit that his understanding of the words of his own title might be perfectly valid. I cannot be the one to decide this question one way or another, because I am an interested party.

*He could have at least nodded in my direction, since he used my title for a book in my field, I feel. I felt kind of a frisson of non-recognition when I first saw the title. Yet I also feel that I shouldn't have written a book on several Spanish poets without putting Lorca in, so I have to forgive him for borrowing my title without realizing it. I have a hard time forgiving myself.

*And if he had nodded in my direction, he could have noted how I didn't include Lorca and should have, and explained why his particular understanding of the words the, poetics, of, and self consciousness differ from Mayhew's. Clearly they do, because Mayhew doesn't quite recognize how this other guy understands this language.

*So is my real issue with my 34-year old self who published this book? Is it with my own ego who would have liked to be mentioned? I always feel I got away with something by not including Lorca in a book that should have, and nobody ever called me out on that. I had a chapter on fucking Jorge Guillén, a poet I don't even like. I should have written an article on Lorca for PMLA, not him.

*On the hand, I had to work up to doing Lorca. I was simply not ready when I was 30-33 and working on this other book. I wasn't a mature enough scholar yet. Much better to publish it when I was 48. Which I did. I couldn't have written what Lorca knew until I had written apocryphal Lorca, so I certainly couldn't have done what Lorca knew before I wrote the poetics of self consciousness. Lorca would have taken over the book.

*So I can add a nice little palinode to my book, explaining why I failed to recognize Lorca's self-conscious poetics when I wasn't a mature scholar.

*I published two books before I was 35. So my scholarship was always ahead of my maturity. My mind, my critical acuity and such, was way in advance of my erudition. It still is, maybe. When I look at what I did with Claudio, in my first book, I have to say that I was smarter then than now, in some ways. Working out that theory for myself. But now I am really smarter, in fact, because I still know what I knew then, only more so.

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