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The Ultimate Poem is Abstract - Texts
“Speech closes off thought”
- Susan Sontag, Silence
“…strain [your] ears to catch…the language of resemblance.”
- Michel Foucault, The Order of Things
“Citation is the ultimate weapon.”
- Michel de Certeau, The Practice of Everyday Life
“Est cogitatum ergo est.”
- Renato Poggioli, Avant-Garde
“Everything in a narrative signifies.”
- Roland Barthes, Structural Analysis of Narratives
Inexpressive unintelligibility expressive unintelligibility
“[Her] eye was caught by the iridescent back of a beetle, the…progress of its glittering body a lesson that in a [world of] flux, the only thing of importance [is] to radiate beauty.”
- Yukio Mishima, Spring Snow
“The things one declines to say…”
- Michel Foucault, The History of Sexuality
“Art [is] the enemy of the artist…”
- Susan Sontag, The Aesthetics of Silence
“Why do you try to enlarge your mind? Subtlize it.”
- Herman Melville, Moby-Dick
“Confounded by the treachery of words the artist’s activity is cursed with mediacy.”
- Sontag, ibid.
“To think clearly is a necessary first step towards political regeneration.”
- George Orwell, Politics and the English Language
“[But] even before being expressed, sense is through and through temporal.”
- Jacques Derrida, The Voice that Keeps Silence
“One has to believe in what one is doing, one has to commit oneself inwardly. [Otherwise] there is nothing left to do. For basically [this is] total idiocy.”
- Gerhard Richter, interview
The Ultimate Poem is Abstract
The day writhes with what? The lecturer
On This Beautiful World Of Ours composes himself
And hems the planet rose and haws it ripe,
And red, and right. The particular question – here
The particular answer to the particular question
Is not in point – the question is in point.
If the day writhes, it is not with revelations.
One goes on asking questions. That, then, is one
Of the categories. So said, this placid space
Is changed. It is not so blue as we thought. To be blue,
There must be no questions. It is an intellect
Of windings round and dodges to and fro,
Writhing in wrong obliques and distances,
Not an intellect in which we are fleet: present
Everywhere in space at once, cloud-pole
Of communication. It would be enough
If we were ever, just once, at the middle, fixed
In This Beautiful World Of Ours and not as now,
Helplessly at the edge, enough to be
Complete, because at the middle, if only in sense,
And in that enormous sense, merely enjoy.
- Wallace Stevens
"The Ultimate Poem is Abstract" from THE COLLECTED POEMS OF WALLACE STEVENS by
Wallace Stevens, copyright © 1954 by Wallace Stevens and copyright renewed 1982 by Holly
Stevens. Used by permission of Alfred A. Knopf, an imprint of the Knopf Doubleday Publishing
Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. All rights reserved.
all rights reserved