Thursday, March 29, 2012

Between official and unofficial views of being

In the space between literature and politics, or between poetry and history, the possibilities for meaning and action are much less determinate and much richer than either construction allows. For unlike politics or philosophy, art offers what Stevens described as “an unofficial view of being.” One might also call this an individual view or a personal view, but with the emphasis on a shared reality in which the official and the unofficial views communicate. These “unofficial” worlds made from local, intimate objects have a rhetorical power. One function of poetry might be to bring that reality out of the official (normative, collective, general, abstract) and into the unofficial (eccentric, individual, particular, sensate) view, then send it back again. - Bonnie Costello

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