Literarisches Events (in and around Lawrence KS)

  • PATRICIA LOCKWOOD. Lawrence. Thursday, September 11, 7:00 p.m., Spooner Hall, KU Campus.
  • PATRICIA LOCKWOOD. Lawrence. Friday, September 19, 7:00 p.m. Lawrence Public Library. Sponsored by Raven Bookstore.
  • DENNIS ETZEL, JR. & RACHEL CROSS. Lawrence. Thursday, September 25, 7:00 p.m., Raven Bookstore, 6 E. 7th St.
  • TONY TRIGILIO. Lawrence. Thursday, Oct. 2, 4:00 p.m., English Room, Kansas Union, KU Campus. FREE.
  • CALEB PUCKETT & JUSTIN RUNGE. Lawrence. Thursday, October 16, 7:00 p.m., Raven Bookstore, 6 E. 7th St.
  • BEN LERNER. Kansas City, MO. Thursday, October 23, 7:00 p.m., Epperson Auditorium, Vanderslice Hall on the KCAI campus, 4415 Warwick Blvd.
  • KRISTIN LOCKRIDGE & ROBERT DAY. Lawrence. Thursday, December 4, 7:00 p.m., Raven Bookstore, 6 E. 7th St.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Historical vs. History

Sure, anything is historical, if it has a carbon-14 reading. But does that mean it engages in an activity called "history"? I'm almost ready to go back and read Hayden White - tho my recollection is that he doesn't really go into what "narrative" means - which begs the question; but I think he was just trying to get those who write history to realize they were writing.

Then there's "historicism" and "historicity." Historicity : history = "governance" : government. Hence, the neoliberal desire for history to "end."

Is there any good history??

Then there's the topic of gender - and why history is his - esp. when you consider who writes it, in prose or verse. Is it that men are pompous weenies, so the Historical Sweep comes naturally? Well, you tell me.

I promise my posts on this topic will become more coherent (and continue) after El Dia de los Pavos Muertos. But I shall continue to post daily. Excelsior!

In the meantime, there is this, from Gabe Gudding's R.I. Notebook:

"The Literary Narcissist begins purposefully to conflate criticism of his social behavior into an indication of his/her literary worth. That is to say, the Narcissist will try to show that the reason others despise or are disgusted by him is in fact because he or she is a 'Rebel,' a true Literary Revolutionist - and that the statements of disgust others publicly make at his behavior is merely an indication of (a) their necessary denial of the work because they are threatened by it, or (b) their jealousy of the work."

Add butt-kissing, and you can see how this might be a problem. However, this passage also describes me and most of my friends (& former friends) at our worst. Let he who is without narcissism cast the first -


Henry Gould said...

If you think of history as on a kind of scale, maybe it begins to make sense.

At the bottom of the scale are the facts - the record, the chronicle of what happened, one damn thing after another. As you move up the scale, you move into the historian's storytelling - the selection, the emphasis, the explanation of the logic (or illogic) of events, their causality.

This upper level seems to be where history & storytelling & poetry & philosophy & religion tend to overlap or phase into each other.

& if you're an idealist like Vico, it turns into a kind of a circle - because history is the tale of what humanity DOES - and what humanity does is driven by what it THINKS it is doing (beliefs, ideologies, values, knowledge - the stories it tells itself))... see what I'm getting at?

Aristotle thought poetry was superior to history-telling, because of its power to represent "universals". Facts are absorbed into a plot, and the plot is about interpreting the meaning of those facts : the outcome, the consequences of actions, the grand finale - in a sense these things ARE the meaning of human actions.

Whereas history is more like the bare record, the chronicle - interpretation is still necessary. History is always "unfinished".

This doesn't mean poets are automatically going to go off into vague generalities. In fact the power of poetry tends to rest in that fusion of immediacy, particularity, intensity - with the plot or outcome as a "whole". It has a holistic emotional effect. Which is grounded in & reinforced by the DETAILS, the facts.

Judy Roitman said...

"The facts - the record, the chronicle of what happened" --- already it's made up, right there.

Anything more than "skulls in a forest" --- made up.

But we owe it to those skulls to try to find out, even though we never will, yes?