SWP Week 1 – Friday Lecture

The last Friday of the first week, Donald Preziosi gave a lecture titled Art, Politics, and Amnesia ?. This was the first of two lectures; the second will be given on Tuesday, July 3rd. I’ll be sure to post my notes on that talk as well.

Preziosi began the lecture by stating a dual purpose: to talk about poetry as artifice and to talk about poetry’s debt to being. He clarified that his talk would be concerned with what poetry’s enchantments fabricate ethically and politically. ?

Having studied with Preziosi for a semester and having read his book Brain of the Earth’s Body, I was somewhat familiar with his ideas on poetry as artifice. His argument that the world of art is not fictional reflection of the world overlapping the real ? world in which we actually live, but that art creates is the world in which we live, is one that helped to shape my graduate thesis about story form. This idea resonates with me as a writer because it provides that my stories may actually be benefit to others.

In this lecture, Preziosi continued to explore this aspect of art and poetry by examining its ethical and political functions. He stated that these aspects of poetry are redemptive, in that they make it possible to act in the world with respect to others, and to the otherness of such. ? The artist has an ethical debt toward difference, Preziosi said, because art is what makes difference real in the world. He concluded the lecture with this statement: Seriously and ethically caring about art or poetry entails above all its desanctification. ?

I am inclined to agree with his conclusion, but also to recognize the difficulties in making it so. Certainly I have no sympathy for privileged classifications such as high art ? or literary ?, and believe those labels are death knells for meaningful artistic practice. But true desanctification has deeper implications. A story printed and published in a book ? is automatically held in higher esteem compared to a story on a web site. And the oral story telling that we each engage in throughout our daily lives is rarely even recognized as such.

This recognition has always important in my own writing practice, and is why I believe my best stories feel lived ?. My vocabulary closely matches the vocabulary of daily life. The organization of the narrative responds to the sequencing of life experience. The stories I write are stories I would (and often do) tell to the people closest to me. And the language I use to tell these stories is the language of lived life.

And this idea of desanctification ? recalls the lecture by Steven Taylor on the Naropa Archives. Lately, I’ve been listening to the archives and audio recordings from several other universities. I’ll post up a list and some of my comments soon. The democratization of information is happeningand it is cool.

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