Thursday, September 18, 2008

Poetry X Madness ...

“At the other end of the cultural area … the poet is he who, beneath the named, constantly expected differences, rediscovers the buried kinships between things, their scattered resemblances. Beneath the established signs, and in spite of them, he hears another, deeper, discourse, which recalls the time when words glittered in the universal resemblance of things; in the language of the poet, the Sovereignty of the Same, so difficult to express, eclipses, the distinction existing between signs.”

“This accounts, no doubt, for the confrontation of poetry and madness in modern Western culture …. It is the mark of a new experience of language and things. At the fringes of the knowledge that separates beings, signs, and similitudes, and as though to limit its power, the madman fulfils the function of homosemanticism: he groups all signs together and leads them with a resemblance that never ceases to proliferate. The poet fulfils the opposite function: his is the allegorical role; beneath the language of signs and beneath the interplay of their precisely delineated distinctions, he strains his ears to catch that ‘other language’, the language, without words or discourse, of resemblance. The poet brings similitude to the signs that speak it, whereas the madman loads all signs with a resemblance that ultimately erases them. They share, then, on the outer edge of our culture and at the point nearest to its essential divisions, that ‘frontier’ situation – a marginal position and a profoundly archaic silhouette – where their words unceasingly renew the power of their strangeness and the strength of their contestation.”

(Michel Foucault, The Order of Things. p. 49-50)

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