how will song pre-empt the copy/paste,
the representative mission to undo

and redo the repetitive? the gated
halos are symbols that will cut you

if you dare to sigh, to sing another
song: the other song that has to be sung.

bring in the salve from the
halo of rough, that contains

minarets of soft stone and
fine eye, of a remembrance

that beguiles the stone and nicks
the eye before it can scream.

the befitting crumb will fall
as gravity is recalled from

rest, the halo of weight is
determined to accede to simple

things like drawing a trapezoid
with a compass, pencil and shut eyes.

“The novel’s conclusion is a picture of the two of them now perfectly content to copy their favorite ideas faithfully from book onto paper.  Knowledge no longer requires application to reality; knowledge is what gets passed on silently, without comment, from one text to another. Ideas are propagated and disseminated anonymously, they are repeated without attribution; … what matters is that they are there, to be repeated, echoed, and re-echoed uncritically.” Edward Said commenting on Flaubert’s novel Bouvard et Pécuchet in his book, Orientalism.

5 comments on “con.textual

  1. mrsorenson says:

    The parts do triangulate each other nicely.

    On Edward Said, and critics like him (and I consider myself one), it must be remembered that not only is what is known different from knowing to knowing, but also the way of knowing. That inevitably reverses the contention that things are better taken as they first appear, without interpretations.

    • huzaifazoom says:

      In terms of how you put it, Said’s thesis – as far as I understand it – is that a power-serving/apologist interpretation, that of the Orientalist, is essentially a dismissive account of the underlying reality it aims to capture – that of the Orient. It must first be demeaned in order to render subservient. After a couple of iterations over a century or so, this method of looking/interpreting – when it comes to the texts that define the interpretation – is reduced to copy/pasting referred to in the extract. Faithful rendering of the underlying reality becomes untenable given the biased baggage.

      • mrsorenson says:

        I think you got that right. But then what Said would say about himself might be to question whether he knows, or can know, what is the “underlying”? Another way to pose the question is for Said to wonder, “Am I insider or outsider?”

      • mrsorenson says:

        Huzaifazoom. A clarification might arise if we ask Said and other critics of colonialism whether there is demeaning and repression even within any subjugated community? While the colonialist subjugates and distorts the “native”, the native is busy subjugating and distorting the narratives of all those in his community who are in his way, especially women. And I do think that ideas like this DO apply to poets too. Thanks for talking. Love your poems.

      • huzaifazoom says:

        Indeed; women, minorities and the working class are being demeaned/subjugated across the board (misogyny/patriarchy, bigotry/racism and class warfare/exploitation). That the repression is much more severe and blatant in post colonial “developing” countries is in no small measure due to the systematic snuffing off of people’s movements/voices ever since the first colonies started becoming independent. Civil rights, women’s liberation and worker’s movements require a consciousness that has sputtered in the global South. Except of course in Latin America (esp. since the post Chavez Pink Tide) where things are beginning to change radically.

        Thank you for the keen comments. Look forward to more of them and your excellent poems.

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