Retallack #3: "How to Do Things with Words" Jan 7, 2023 9:28:18 GMT -5
Post by afilreis on Jan 7, 2023 9:28:18 GMT -5
We now turn to the title poem of Retallack's book How to Do Things with Words. If you google that phrase you will of course find yourself reading about J.L. Austin's famous book about speech-act theory. In her poem, which is obviously a response to Austin, Retallack writes a kind of poetry that she believes enacts an idea about what words do. Ponder that for a moment: a poem which is itself about what words do but is also made in a way that also enacts that idea—the idea of words doing things. When you think conventionally of "doing things," you mostly don't think about writing about it—you think, rather, of doing something. What kind of doing is making a thing? Isn't the original idea of poetry—poesis—that it is a making?
HERE is a recording of Joan Retallack performing this poem.
HERE is a copy of the text of the poem.
Here are some questions to which you might respond as you write and post your comments:
1. Why pair J.L. Austin and Jane Austen (a linguistic theoriest and a novelist)?
2. What is the field or area of rhetoric in the poem's writing? Consider this phrasing, for instance: "Thirdly, let us consider the question whether it is true that..."
3. In what way can "precisely" be distinguished from "exactly"?
4. What is to be gained, if anything, from "the continual discovery of fresh types of nonsense"?
As always, I look forward to reading your responses! Please don't ever think that what you say here needs to be definitive! Perhaps you can just choose a line or phrase or passage and attempt to "translate" it into other words--to paraphrase. Or perhaps you should just ask questions.
Enjoy this, please!