Urgent Matter

Jonathan Monroe


Opening questions about “things” onto the bureaucratically-maintained, compartmentalized discursive, disciplinary claims of “philosophy,” “theory,” and “poetry,” “Urgent Matter” explores these three terms in relation to one another through attention to recent work by Giorgio Agamben, Jacques Rancière, the German-American poet Rosmarie Waldrop, and the German poet Ulf Stolterfoht, whose fachsprachen. Gedichte. I-IX (Lingos I-IX. Poems) Waldrop rendered into English in an award-winning translation. The difference between the "things" called "poetry" and "philosophy," as now institutionalized within the academy, is not epistemological, ontological, ahistorical, but a matter of linguistic domains, of so-called concrete "images" as the policed domain of the former and of "abstraction" as the policed domain of the latter. Challenging the binary logics that dominate language use in diverse discursive/disciplinary cultures, Waldrop’s linguistically self-referential, appositional procedures develop ways to use language that are neither linear, nor so much without direction, as multi-directional, offering complexes of adjacency, of asides, of digression, of errancy, of being “alongside,” in lieu of being “opposed to,” that constitute at once a poetics, an aesthetics, an ethics, and a politics. Elaborating a complementary understanding of poetry as “the most philosophic of all writing,” a medium of being “contemporary,” Waldrop and Stolterfoht question poetry’s purposes as one kind of language apparatus among others in the general economy. Whatever poetry might be, it aspires to be in their hands not a thing in itself but a form of self-questioning, of all discourses, all disciplines, that “thing” that binds “poetry” and “philosophy” together, as urgent matter, in continuing.

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5399/uo/konturen.8.0.3697


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