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Saturday, April 13, 2013

Lyric aphorism

An Essay on Lyric Aphorism in Contemporary Poetry by Hannah Brooks-Motl.
“Potentially multiple,” she writes, the voice of a lyric poem is “not reducible to the realm of single-subject epiphanies.” The troubling, and troublesome, “single-subject” (that is, the speaker of the poem considered as a singular, univocal presence) is one that lyric aphorism effectively scrambles, and might even do away with. For poets cautious of the ways “subjectivity” can almost automatically inflect voice, lyric aphorisms’ disembodied timbre allows for epiphany that is not relegated to the “single-subject”; yet it also offers, as a kind of Hippocratean fact, an utterance that is grounded in personal observation, even personality.

[Susan] Sontag, writing about the great Romanian aphorist Cioran, described “the aphoristic style” as “less a principle of reality than a principle of knowing: that it’s the destiny of every profound idea to be quickly checkmated by another idea, which it itself has implicitly generated.”

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