Print Story E. Jandl: "Die Rache / der Sprache / ist das Gedicht"
By BlueOregon (Sun Dec 10, 2006 at 11:45:27 AM EST) (all tags)

The revenge (or vengeance) / of language / is the poem.

Parse as you will.

Etymologically rage and Rache seem related (see similar sound shifts in night / Nacht, neighbor / Nachbar, knight / Knecht, etc.), but this is misleading due to orthography—gh has nothing to do with g (at least nothing meaningful here). The sound shift is voiced to unvoiced to even-less-voiced (d>t for example: daughter, Tochter, etc.); it's German (not English) that changed in this regard. In any case, the English cognate of Rache (via sound changes, at least) is wreak, whereas rage derives (more directly) from a Middle French source (see also: rabies).

I suppose I am glad to see Pinochet dead, though the man deserved to suffer. And suffer some more. But I do not believe in either torture or the death penalty, even for such well-dressed slime. Where are the Furies when you need them?

They could have placed him under Orest.

Inside: food, GPotD, and links, not necessarily in that order.


“Ein Gedicht”

Ein Gedicht, aus Worten gemacht.
Wo kommen die Worte her?
Aus den Fugen wie Asseln,
Aus dem Maistrauch wie Blüten,
Aus dem Feuer wie Pfiffe,
Was mir zufällt, nehm ich,

Es zu kämmen gegen den Strich,
Es zu paaren widernatürlich,
Es nackt zu scheren,
In Lauge zu waschen
Mein Wort

Meine Taube, mein Fremdling,
Von den Lippen zerissen,
Vom Atem gestoßen,
In den Flugsand geschrieben

Mit seinesgleichen
Mit seinesungleichen

Zeile für Zeile,
Meine eigene Wüste
Zeile für Zeile
Mein Paradies.

Marie Luise Kaschnitz (1901–1974)

If I did personal connections by associations, I would say 1974 (death, birth), Königsberg (Kant, leads to dissertation), Marburg (semester of study), Frankfurt (many trips in and out of the airport and train station), Berlin (place of residence).

My connection with the recently deceased D. Cockrum was the shared place of birth.


Sex, in a broad sense, for the whole family.

“Our women have been circumcised for thousands of years, and they have never complained,” said an agitated elderly man in the audience. The conference, he said, was a Western conspiracy, and showing pictures of circumcisions was a crime.


As a special food bonus, I present “The Great Tuna Taste-Off.”


End of the week in review.

After an emotionally draining previous end-of-the-week and weekend (supplemented, at least, by two cinema visits for Bo&Bo films), this week was marked by non-teaching teaching (presentations) and multiple visits with colleagues, including Tuesday burritos (at which D&F asked whether LS would be joining us, but I only said, “no.”).

Thursday D&F and I planned for one of those “Wisconsin Young Alumni” happy hours (though we're no longer particularly young); they send us crap because we got our MAs here, so they treat us as alumni. Fuckers. We're still poor, PhD students, and in no mood to donate, etc., at this point, if ever. We skipped the alumni bash and got our own table at the same establishment. I bussed out to Hilldale, which has undergone extensive renovation and new construction since my last shopping trip out there half a decade ago.

This city changes.

I found the bargain book section in the basement of the University Bookstore branch ... oh-so-tempting, but I held back, left, and met up with D&F at the recently opened Great Dane extension, which cannot serve Great Dane beer due to an obscure and antiquated state law forbidding a beer brewer from selling its own product at more than two outlets. One pretzel, reuben, salad, beer, coffee, and serving of apple crisp later I departed with my colleagues.

It was time for the department's Holiday Party Friday afternoon. EG built a large gingerbread house. A number of students have never visited the 19th floor, which is accessible only by way of a special, separate elevator. Lacking a key, we were unable to go to the top, but I showed the way. I am treated by the younger students (and even by some of the older ones) as a repository of departmental history, campus knowledge, etc. The respect, if that's what it is, is nice, but I feel instrumentalized.

Afterward I went out with LW and two of the other lit students C&J—who, it turns out, have backgrounds in art and music respectively, which was a nice counterpoint to my consternation at having so few creativity-consumed colleagues—first to the Weary Traveler (a beer, plus some food, though we'd had plenty of sweets up in 1418) and across the street to Jolly Bobs, which LW had never visited. Many rum drinks, several hours, and $100 later near bar time we left. It was still quite cold (in the 30s again today at least), so LW and I walked our direction, capped and gloved, and C&J got a taxi.

Saturday involved baking cookies and going over to K&D's place with J&C (not to be confused with C&J). My ATM/Debit card was curiously and annoyingly rejected at the hardware store and at the co-op (and the Tyme machine at the co-op was down), so I had to use my credit card. I was, naturally I think, worried ... why should me card be rejected? I came home, logged on, and checked my account through the credit union site, and I have plenty of money in both checking and savings ... so I have no idea what's wrong.

Quite annoying.

Since I have money and there has been no unusual activity with the account, it's no longer worrying. But still.


I thought the holiday gathering with K&D would be a small affair, but it turned out to include in-laws and breeder-work-colleagues; a half-dozen rug-rats abused poor Kipling the beagle. I must admit, the kidlets were adorable enough for the most part. K&D are expecting again in a few months, and #1 is nearly 2.

I got my first eggnog of the season.

As this is Wisconsin there was plenty of brandy.


The cookies that I did not bake Saturday.

Nut Crescents (also known by many other names):

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 cups walnuts (finely ground): one flour-like, one a bit chunkier
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 sticks butter, softened
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp. salt to flour
  1. Cream butter 1.5 min. w/ sugar
  2. Add vanilla
  3. Sift flour, nuts, salt
  4. Add flour mixture to butter-sugar; do not over mix
  5. Dish out about 1 Tbsp. per cookie: make balls, crescents, circles, and cigars.
  6. Bake about 17 minutes at 325F

Cool on a rack, then cover in powdered sugar.

So easy even a caveman could do it ...


“A Poem”

A poem made of words.
Where do the words come from?
From the cracks in the wall like wood lice,
From the shrubs of May like blossoms,
From the fire like whistling,
Whatever chances upon me, I take it,

So as to comb it against the grain,
So as to pair it perversely,
So as to shear it clear,
To soak it in lye
My word

My dove, my stranger,
Torn apart by my lips,
Pushed around by my breath,
Writ in windblown sand

Along with its likes
Along with its unlikes

Line after line,
My own desert
Line after line
My paradise.

—Translated by Reinhold Grimm

Most of my students went for “May bushes” or “May schrubs” instead of “shrubs of May.” A few had difficulty and parsed it as Mais-trauch (corn-something ... which provides no meaningful translation), or thought it was a typo on my part—that it should have been Maistrauss (May bouquet, which would sound nice in English).

Whatever chances upon me is accurate enough; “was mir zufällt” uses the dative in an indirect object construction similar to expressions for I'm sorry, I'm hot, and that hurts—it does sorrow to me, it's hot to/for me, and it does me pain. It's one of many pseudo-passive formations in the language, but it could also be translated as “Whatever comes to mind.”

So as is unnecessary semantically, but it does alter the rhythm and does set up “To soak it in lye” rather nicely.

Von den Lippen zerissen can be to be torn from or to be torn by the lips; Grimm goes for the latter, which is more active and violent, and appropriate, though I like the multiplicity in the original.

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E. Jandl: "Die Rache / der Sprache / ist das Gedicht" | 20 comments (20 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback
In my younger days by aethucyn (4.00 / 1) #1 Sun Dec 10, 2006 at 01:56:27 PM EST
I fancied myself a poet. That poem reminds me of the last poem I ever completed. I've been wracking my mind to remember how it went, but it's no use. I might just have to call my alma mater's library and have somebody find the lit mag it was in, and recite it to me (or e-mail them). In the meantime, this is simply going to drive me crazy.

I've learned by BlueOregon (2.00 / 0) #2 Sun Dec 10, 2006 at 02:43:59 PM EST

... to keep most of my poetry to myself. Thus, the only stuff in a "poetry mag" or similar are poems from elementary school. Ah, I should -- once again! -- pull some of those out to share with the world.

But, if you find your poem (yes, call that library or such!) please share. We could have the HuSi PFC ...

[ Parent ]
HuSi PFC by aethucyn (2.00 / 0) #3 Sun Dec 10, 2006 at 02:55:25 PM EST
I shudder to think of it.

And my last poem was written in the fall of 1992, to put that into perspective. After going to an open-mic poetry night last year which surprisingly did not make me want to go back in time to kill Allen Ginsberg and/or Jim Morrison before either had a chance to pen a word, I made some attempts to write a poem or two, but realized that while prose can be written without being entirely sure where you're trying to go, poetry really requires you to have a destination in mind from the beginning.

[ Parent ]
as long as I do not count ... by BlueOregon (2.00 / 0) #4 Sun Dec 10, 2006 at 03:05:49 PM EST

... haikus and such written for pedagogical purposes in class, then my last 'poetry' probably comes from 2001 or 2002, and was included in a 2002 anthology to/for a friend.

Since then I've done little 'creative writing' at all ... it's been mostly doodling (yeah, I can't stick with a medium, genre, etc.).

I went to a poetry slam this summar/fall, invited by a colleague whose husband was presenting, and excepting his (the husband's) and one or two others, it was painfully bad; I knew I pen better stuff than I was hearing, but I had little desire to do so. So I'll stick with analyzing.

[ Parent ]
Whenever somebody is foolish enough by aethucyn (2.00 / 0) #6 Sun Dec 10, 2006 at 03:55:34 PM EST
to go to a museum with me, I will usually ask them my pain in the ass question of, "What is the purpose of high art in modern society?" I hate to make statements that art is dead or irrelevent, but I do sometimes wonder what it is that artists are hoping to achieve. I suppose, I wonder the same thing about poetry. I consider myself more patient than most, and certainly have a greater affection for the written word, and yet, I rarely read any poetry. (Six books in my collection, nothing more recent than Eliot). Maybe I should add poetry appreciation to my not-so-vigorous course of self-improvement.

[ Parent ]
i ask that about by R343L (4.00 / 1) #10 Sun Dec 10, 2006 at 05:31:03 PM EST
most (all?) human pursuits. I mean except agriculture and sex, they at least have a direct purpose. When I'm depressed though, even those seem purposeless.

I actually think I should read more poetry. We were watching B5 last night and G'kar quoted Yeat's The Second Coming which reminded me how cool some poetry is. Even if it has no purpose, it can sound purposeful.


"There will be time, there will be time / To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet." -- Eliot

[ Parent ]
Perhaps I'm less demanding by aethucyn (2.00 / 0) #13 Sun Dec 10, 2006 at 06:14:56 PM EST
upon human pursuits in general.

I think your bringing up B5, though, is an interesting illustration of my point, in a way. Television, particularly sci-fi, is low art. The primary purpose is to entertain and sell advertising time. And yet, B5 was also made with the idea of inspiring people. There is a strong moral current running through it that says that individuals acting bravely for what they believe in can make a difference, and it reached a large audience. Right now, there are countless ways to produce art, and get a message out (don't mistake this for a political message, but that all sorts of thoughts, ideas, emotions), why choose something which barely has an audience to reach? How many people read poetry? How many of those actually read anything contemporary? and of those who do, how many will have heard of any one poet?

[ Parent ]
pretension? by R343L (2.00 / 0) #14 Sun Dec 10, 2006 at 06:18:49 PM EST
Or maybe some poets just don't care if anyone reads them? Really no idea.

Truth be told, I seem to prefer "low" art most of the time anyway. :)


"There will be time, there will be time / To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet." -- Eliot

[ Parent ]
rambling aside by BlueOregon (2.00 / 0) #16 Sun Dec 10, 2006 at 06:52:29 PM EST
Even if it has no purpose, it can sound purposeful.

And curiously appropriate regarding the aesthetic categorically, art in general, and poetry in particular, by which I mean the discussion of Zweckmässigkeit ohne Zweck (purposefulness without purpose) in Kant's 3rd Critique (aka Critique of Judgment).

  1. By purposefulness without purpose, we note the lack of purpose, which is to say, that it is not instrumentalized, that it's not a tool, not an appendage to a body, not an economic pursuit (maximize profit, distribute resources most efficiently), a political goal (peace, war, consolidate power, reach compromise), not a drive toward the Good (a moral goal), etc.
  2. If things are approached by or as one of those above rational (as purposeful -- see "self-interest" for example) pursuits, the aestetic/artistic/poetic fails -- it is not necessarily done for the sake of the good, the just, the efficient ...
  3. Purposefulness, though, is a fascinating idea, and there are several approaches to it, but one which interests me here is that a) it is structural [aesthetic/artistic/poetic creations often are so formed/structured/etc. such that they appear to have been created for a purpose, even if said purpose is not apparent] and b) it is tied to the concept of free play [which allows it to be bounded, usually by some often minimal set of rules, but the boundaries are often tested, and this is a creative process that often has no direct or consequences/results, but it helps with other endeavors, such as learning to get along with others, learning how to learn even, etc.]

Also, in my response to aethucyn you'll notice a footnote stating that I would cover a topic here. It's not a direct response to anything you said, but it's worthwhile enough for me, at least.

Also in the 3rd Critique, when discussing genius and "high art" Kant noted that not all works of high art displayed genius. One could follow the rules (for a genre, form, etc.), and still not produce something that moved the viewer, etc. (for a flexible definition of moved). Genius helped to explain that something extra that was there. Furthermore, while Kant said "I'm only considering high art" he did not exclude, here at least, "genius" from the lower arts categorically. I guess the relevant part, though, is that sometimes a created thing (a work of art, let's say) affects the viewer and in so doing effects something, and that this tends to happen to many people who view the same work indicates to us that this is more than just a purely subjective experience, and that we don't treat this just as pleasure, displeasure, etc. indicates to us that there is something special about really good works of art.

[ Parent ]
wow by R343L (2.00 / 0) #19 Sun Dec 10, 2006 at 07:12:37 PM EST
I almost understood parts of that. Perhaps my brain is not entirely withered. :)

I do like that you've quite left open "low" art being good in that special way, cause I quite like some of those things. :)

"There will be time, there will be time / To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet." -- Eliot

[ Parent ]
since ... by BlueOregon (2.00 / 0) #15 Sun Dec 10, 2006 at 06:33:01 PM EST

... one of the few things as useless, boring, or annoying than preaching to the choir is attempting to convert a heathen, I'll avoid trying to do so in this brief yet perhaps rambling response.

If one is not careful (and I am not claiming that you were careless or guilty in this regard), a question along the lines of "What is the purpose of [high] art in [modern] society?" can turn into a exercise in question begging, of assuming that there is such a purpose and thus straining to justify it, or in a type of gloating when one is not found, and this far too often turns into the expanded claim that art has no purpose. Or that purposelessness leads to meaninglessness, relativity, etc.

As I said, I might ramble.

The question could and perhaps should -- to really make things historically interesting and relavant -- be phrased as 'what's the purpose of high art in postmodern society?' for one of the things one might say about the modern was that [high] art was purposeful in it -- that's one of the defining characteristics of the modern (be it with regard to museums and paintings/statues on the walls/floors, theater as institution, urban architecture, etc.). But by modern I suppose you mean now, more or less.

But then there are questions about whether what does the artist hope to achieve? is relevant. No point in arguing that now.

But [and I like to start sentences with that word] sort of in response to your question [and I'm sure I'll respond to the first response to your post with a continuation of this point] if we're willing to step outside classical modernism [without necessarily becoming full-blown postmodernists ... let's be postpostmodernists, please] we'll note that the question about the "purpose" [function, role, means-end relationship, meaning, etc.] of art, in addition to being too ancient to be answered in one HuSi comment, was of crucial importance at the beginning of "philosophical aesthetics" (mid-late 18th century), and it's not just a matter of societal function -- it's also a matter of philosophy [the true, the good, the beautiful?] and psychology [what we can know, how we know it, but that's truth again, so additionally, how we experience, statically and dynamically]. The interest is both analytic and a priori [and also synthetic and a priori, but I digress], as well as empirical -- people keep making "art," [they keep arting], and people keep noticing differences between effects some created works have and 1) others that don't have such effects and 2) non-created things in the world1. They notice that somehow we tend (not absolute; tend is a good word here) to ascribe different feelings (and different degrees of universalization)2 to "art" than we do to mere "entertainment." Whether or not they should (as a matter of ethics or as a matter of of them being mistaken about the potential of art) is neither here nor there ... it's a fact that they do so, and have done so for a long time.

That is to say, while one can provide a "high-low" dichotomy that is primarily a matter of economics and production [scarcity vs. mass-production/consumption, for example], a matter of class, a matter of pretentious "look at me I'm an artist!" artists, of whatever sociological category or consideration one chooses, it's not an approach that does away with the concerns of 'art,' 'poetry,' etc. as such.


That having been said ... back to contemporary poetry and a semi-tangential anecdote from last March that relates to poetry and to "creative writing" in general.

At a roundtable/worshop/conference a creative writing instructor from the US doing a year in Poland commented about what he told his students who were writing for themselves; he pointed out that he wasn't teaching a course on emoting. Self-discovery, self-expression, and such are not [should not be] the topic/purpose of creative writing courses. This sacred "I'm expressing myself so don't judge me" perspective is annoying, anti-social, egotistical bullshit, and that it finds such expression in contemporary poetry is a sad reflection on our times, but there's plenty of worthwhile poetry out there as well. Contemporary, even.

1. see next comment on Kant and the 3rd Critique.
2. you'll notice that I am inconsistent with my use of () and []

[ Parent ]
I will fully process this at a later date by aethucyn (2.00 / 0) #20 Sun Dec 10, 2006 at 07:14:44 PM EST
but earlier time. But I will say that I am neither quite the choir or the heathen. But I suppose as I was discussing with toxicfur and ana on the car ride home, when writing a grant proposal or fighting a war, one needs to establish certain goals, and be able to measure if they've been achieved. I think the same can be true of the arts, though perhaps not to the strictest standards. I ask it of high art, simply because so called low art has a means of measuring this: in sales dollars. I wouldn't say it's the best way of measuring, but in rejecting that, a lot of artists don't replace it with a meaningful solution (your above example of 'expressing myself'). I don't honestly believe that art or poetry is irrelevent as such, but I think there is a trend to simply assume that if people aren't getting it, they're uncultured, as opposed to there being something lacking in the artist's intentions.

[ Parent ]
You should shudder. by toxicfur (4.00 / 1) #7 Sun Dec 10, 2006 at 04:54:51 PM EST
Just take a look at my latest hole diary. And that's probably about the best poetry I've written. Ever. *shudder*
inspiritation: the effect of irritating someone so much it inspires them to do something about it. --BuggEye
[ Parent ]
I was envisioning by aethucyn (2.00 / 0) #8 Sun Dec 10, 2006 at 05:05:35 PM EST
twelve entries, all limericks, half of them dirty, the other half setting up to be dirty only to let us down with tame last lines.

[ Parent ]
the rules would have to be ... by BlueOregon (2.00 / 0) #18 Sun Dec 10, 2006 at 06:56:02 PM EST

... something to lead to constrained art.

No limericks, no free verse, no haikus (or no haikus standing alone). Something like that.

[ Parent ]
not a fan of dead tuna by moonvine (2.00 / 0) #5 Sun Dec 10, 2006 at 03:36:05 PM EST
but a hUGE one of those clerics against mutilation. Also, pinochet dead... good riddance.

I love tuna by BlueOregon (2.00 / 0) #12 Sun Dec 10, 2006 at 06:01:00 PM EST

... generally dead, mind you, but not always from a can.

However, if I had my way I'd be eating enough tuna to have to worry about heavy metal poisoning. Just tuna, mayo, and perhaps some relish. I don't even need the bread. I won't be going for those $30+ cans of really good tuna, but it does make one think, a bit, about the blandness of our non-prepackaged-and-prepared-in-cardboard foods.

Not enough to be a foodie, though. Most of the time I would like to put them against the wall with Pinochet and anyone complicit in mutilation, though not for crimes against humanity, but for just for being annoying fucktards.

[ Parent ]
rough lips do strip the darling shrubs of May by Kellnerin (4.00 / 1) #9 Sun Dec 10, 2006 at 05:13:01 PM EST
When I write poetry, it's language that needs to revenge itself on me, thus I try not to tempt the tongue too much.

I read Husi with images off, so when I saw "The cookies that I did not bake Saturday" and then clicked on the little "there's an image here" icon, I was really curious to see what the recipe for that could be.

"... under Orest." I'm obliged to groan, but I can't hate it. You got me right in the archetype.

"If we build it, will they come, and what will they do when they get here?" -- iGrrrl

my apologies then by BlueOregon (2.00 / 0) #11 Sun Dec 10, 2006 at 05:56:18 PM EST

I did not mean to be misleading with the image; I simply added it to one of the shorter numbered sections; if I hadn't written the week-in-review, it would have been III on its own.

Regarding Orest, another apology. It was, while not unintentional, not planned either. That is to say, Pinochet was already going in the intro text, and then I came up with the title (since it's a brief verse related to the GPofD and could fit in the title area) ... and then I thought I would write about Rache vs. rage, or at least provide hints that are so obvious they're not hints but not so detailed that they're explanations either.

Rache/rage (and the etymology of Rache/wreak as chasing [see also banishment, expulsion] led not just to the Furies [revenge/Rache] but to said Furies chasing Orest) brought me to the Furies, placed in the Pinochet paragraph, and suddenly the bo-bad was unavoidable.

I suppose this window into the thought-processes of this disseratator was avoidable, but tangents must be followed from time to time.

[ Parent ]
no need to apologize by Kellnerin (2.00 / 0) #17 Sun Dec 10, 2006 at 06:53:56 PM EST
None of the items in my original post were complaints; they were merely observations. You also should know by now that thought-process windows are also nothing you need to apologize for either, at least not to me.

"If we build it, will they come, and what will they do when they get here?" -- iGrrrl
[ Parent ]
E. Jandl: "Die Rache / der Sprache / ist das Gedicht" | 20 comments (20 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback