Tuesday, September 25, 2007


“No ideas but in things”: that damn thing to which the poem is reduced. Its block and tackle, its phonograph needle: the means to it and through it. Things! We’ve said before that Williams is not as materialist as it would seem when he says this. But maybe, he is consummately materialist, albeit espousing the materialism of a Deleuzean, who understands the “‘wisdom of the rocks,’ a way of listening to a creative, expressive flow of matter” (DeLanda, "Nonorganic Life"). It seems more and more, as we’ve pointed out with the geological cross section, that the poem is a kind of stratigraphy that pays attention to possible flows and movements in a seemingly rigid and static layering. The song made out of the block. The fire that finds its fuel. The wind, the rocks and water.
This mind creates things rather than finds them: thus, instead of getting out of materiality, it uses materiality against itself. “Things are our way of dealing with a world in which we are enmeshed rather than over which we have dominion. The thing is the compromise between the world as it is . . . and the world as we need it to be or would like it to be. . . It is a compromise between mind and matter, the point of their crossing one into the other” (Grosz, "The Thing"). The thing represents reciprocal poeisis with the world, a “seeking/ down the wind/ until we are unaware which is the wind and /which the wind’s power over us ./ to lead the mind away.”

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