finding words, creating subjectivity

From a bold perspective; would it be possible to claim an affinity between the ideas of the neuroscientist Antonio Damasio and the poet Lyn Hejinian? Comparing how they both present making art as a way of making subjectivity makes me think they might approach a similar conclusion from different points of view.

Here is Lyn Hejinian:

The desire that is stirred by language is located most interestingly within language itself—as a desire to say, a desire to create the subject by saying, and as a pervasive doubt very like jealousy that springs from the impossibility of satisfying these yearnings.

In the gap between what one wants to say (or what one perceives there is to say) and what one can say (what is sayable), words provide for a collaboration and a desertion. We delight in our sensuous involvement with the materials of language, we long to join words to the world—to close the gap between ourselves and things—and we suffer from doubt and anxiety because of our in­ability to do so.

Yet the incapacity of language to match the world permits us to distinguish our ideas and ourselves from the world and things in it from each other. The undifferentiated is one mass, the dif­ferentiated is multiple. The (unimaginable) complete text, the text that contains everything, would in fact be a closed text. It would be insufferable.

The Rejection of Closure (1985)


6 Comments Add yours

  1. Harold Rhenisch says:

    Does language fail to match the world? Or is that culturally specific? What would “match the world” mean? How does the “world” differ from the “earth”. How does that differ from “Earth”? How does language differ from spell craft? In what way does poetry differ from language? Does music match the world? Does dance? Does anything? Is the “world” the concept that does not match? Is “subjectivity”? So many questions!

    1. Sigrun says:

      – and so little time … or; so much fun?!

  2. It is true that the differentiated must by nature be multiple, and I think the result (an impossible result) she conjectures–that a complete text would be “insufferable” –also feels true. You know, I so admire Hejinian’s mind, her essays…but I have never much enjoyed her poetry. Alas.

    1. Sigrun says:

      Someone said that Susan Sontag really preferred being called a novelist, even if everyone knew she was a much better essayist …

  3. earthstills says:

    Word-work is sublime, she thinks, because it is generative; it makes meaning that secures our difference, our human difference – the way in which we are like no other life.
    We die. That may be the meaning of life. But we do language. That may be the measure of our lives.
    …from Toni Morrison’s Nobel Lecture

    1. Sigrun says:

      oh, very nice, thank you!

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