Tuesday, August 26, 2008

or not

"Or" is the sign of a mind more interested in displaying a multiplicity of possible interpretations than in discerning something we could comfortably call the facts. At the same time, this mind is more palpably conscious of the pressure to call something a fact—to weigh one alternative against another before adding it to the available stockpile of information. Rather than feeling that all of history is contemporaneous, such a mind is possessed by a visceral awareness of the contemporary moment slipping away forever. Second by second, the incremental passage of time alters the sense of every preceding second, leaving this mind with a menu of more-or-less useful accounts. In addition, this mind is itself in motion, aware that one moment's version of events will not necessarily satisfy as time moves forward. Most important, this mind is not frustrated but nurtured by a constantly shifting sense of alternatives. "We remembered, we anticipated a peacock," says Proust of the continual process of surprise that constitutes our coming to know another human being, "and we find a peony."
James Longenbach. The Resistance to Poetry. Chicago: U of Chicago P. 2004. 76-77.

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