By Rosemarie Waldrop, Rosmarie Waldrop
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Extra resources for Against Language: Dissatisfaction With Language: as Theme and as Impulse Towards Experiments in Twentieth Century Poetry
VI, 765 and 777. V, 240. »5 Malte feels that the experience of the flux is incompatible with words. It will disintegrate all meaning. 96 Rilke, however, decides for the word even though it may be untrue and render only the weakest part. This may be surprising, but there are parallels that are familiar to all of us. Let us look at Susanne Langer's description of the mechanism of signification: if among two terms which "are merely correlated", the subject finds one interesting but hard or impossible to perceive and the other one available, the latter will become a sign, and it may assume all the importance of the inaccessible term.
The problem of language vis à vis an object which eludes formulation is not solved by making the elusive object into a theme. For this still means using conventional words, which have been recognized as insufficient; it still means speaking of the unfixable as if it were fixed. Automatic writing tries to meet this challenge by approaching autistic processes which in turn approach the conditions of the total flux. Undirected thought is usually referred to as 'flow' (for not having a direction or form of its own but instead following outside stimuli, etc.
Apart from this basic example, there may be clashes within the semantic dimension when conventions are broken, be it conventions of values or of reality. The clashes will be the harsher the closer the context comes to establishing a direct contradiction of the usual definition of the word used. Thus Morgenstern's house built from the interstices of a wooden fence,16 or even Baudelaire's "aimable pestilence",17 seem to clash more than Breton's image of "la rosée à tête de chatte" 18 (although Breton would argue that contradiction still belongs to the FIELD of the word and is therefore expected).