Wednesday, December 07, 2005

The path set down in walking: a valediction

I am aware that I risk writing a sappy yearbook entry (BFF, MTT!), but I couldn’t resist the opportunity Dr. Syverson’s book provided to reflect on the course. It was a really strange sensation to be along for the ride (or walk) through THE WEALTH OF REALITY (who would have thought back in September that the grounds of the first chapter would have felt like such familiar terrain?). I had expected at the start of the course to obtain some discrete body of information that would serve as a foundation for my studies; what surprised me throughout was how much the readings spilled into my thoughts about being a graduate student, about teaching, etc. In particular, the Reznikoff chapter had an unexpected personal resonance: first, I have a special fondness for/interest in the Lower East Side, with its rich immigrant history (including that of my Sicilian grandparents). Second, I loved the image of Reznikoff walking through the streets and enacting a sense of (poetic) self and a city in the process; it really captured that sense of *movement, of the city revealing itself to you in a different way every time you walk through its neighborhoods. This example helped to bring home for me how much one’s environment and interaction with it can shape a self (and to understand why being a pedestrian in Austin doesn't have quite the same effect.)

Also: I wanted to ask about the issue of intellectual property and authorship, which Dr. Syverson raises in the final chapter, especially as it applies to this more traditional example of a poet’s published works. Certainly, the archival work provide a rich context for his poetry, and the ecological method is a way of synthesizing a variety of different critical approaches (and showing their necessary interrelatedness). I understand that the unit of analysis here extends beyond Reznikoff’s skin and the texts themselves, to a variety of other texts, family members, environments, readers, etc. but what do we do with Reznikoff? In what sense is authorship at issue here? Can we still claim a place for Reznikoff’s creativity? Perhaps, for all my de-stabilization of the boundaries between self and world in the cognitive process, I am having some trouble dropping the idea of the individual author (if that’s what I’m even being asked to do), which is preventing me from journeying all the way.

4 Comments:

Blogger asw said...

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6:52 AM  
Blogger asw said...

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6:53 AM  
Blogger asw said...

Eileen:
I really liked your post and I felt the same way about this book. In reading the first chapter, all of the concepts and aspects that we had discussed during the semester really came together for me as I was reading the first chapter. I never would have thought things would have connected so well since September since these were a challenging set of readings for me personally.

In your last few sentences of your post you bring up the aspect of intellectual property and authorship and you really got me thinking on how this is a sticky issue in how much creativity can be found within the individual author. Does it reside in the author only or does it emerge with the writer, text, reader and audience? I have also thought of creativity more on an individual basis and it's hard for me to wrap my mind around this aspect as well. :)

6:54 AM  
Blogger IB said...

Eileen, you raise such an interesting question at the end of your post! Although I find complexity theory very much applicable to a variety of fields, and situations in which we as humans find ourselves in day after day I have some trouble with completely dropping individual accomplishment, creativity and similar things, whatever we want to call it. It seems that if I accept that each of my actions is influenced by a hundred factors I give in to letting my self dissolve. As if individuals are waves in the Pacific, forever arising, mingling and dissolving. Oh, I am still suffering from grasping for a self that does not exist ;-) Back to being serious, I think individual authorship is an important question. It seems necessary to keep it despite the many factors that influence an author's work. If we drop it hundreds of people could claim authorship to a book - starting with the familiy of the author and ending with his kindergarten teacher who he himself does not even remember.

2:39 PM  

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