Saturday, October 8, 2011

On Juxtaposition

“What’s to be done or said in the meanwhile I don’t know,
and what is the use of poets in a mean-spirited time?”
—Friedrich Hölderlin, from “Bread and Wine”

Straddler across lines
Between the forces
Of good and evil

In these mean times
What we need from you
Now is more than just—

A position. 


  1. As Dylan put it in "Ring Them Bells":

    The lines are long
    And the fighting is strong
    And they’re breaking down the distance
    Between right and wrong

    That was 1989. Twenty-two years and there are finally masses of ordinary people reestablishing the distance and taking a position....

  2. It's about time and this time--one hopes--it seems nothing's going to stop them.

  3. Vassilis,

    Isn't that the prayer of every aspiring young academic these days... juxta position, Lord (and please make it permanent)!

    Out in the streets with you, then!

    Thank dog for the nuttiness of Hölderlin, antithesis of every academico-poetical rationale ever invented.

    Maybe one must be juxtabout nutty to piece together the scraps of Hölderlin's amazing centuries-ahead-of-everybody pre-post-classical paratax.

    As with the canyons of Wall Street, it's still a long stride across those chasms, in the meantime.

    Hölderlin: Griechenland (Correspondences of Poetry and Madness)

    "The Hölderlinian correspondences, those sudden connections between ancient and modern scenes and figures, stand in the most profound relationship to the paratactic method. Beissner too noted Hölderlin's tendency to mix eras together, to connect things that are remote and unconnected; the principle of such associations, which is the opposite of the discursive principle, is reminiscent of the serial ordering of grammatical parts. Poetry wrested both from the zone of madness, where the flight of ideas thrives, as does the readiness of many schizophrenics to see anything real as a sign of something hidden, to encumber it with meaning."

    -- Theodor Adorno: Parataxis: On Hölderlin's Late Poetry

  4. I suspect Hölderlin's poetry also held a fascination for Seferis, since he used the above quote from "Bread and Wine" as a prologue to one of his poems written in 1940, as you so "juxtaposedly" pointed out


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