Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Dialectics and the Other,

or what I wish I had come across when I was writing my thesis on H.D.

At the back of Benjamin Hollander's Vigilance, there are some letters, correspondence between Hollander and others about his work. In his letter to Joshua Schuster, Hollander writes:

"We are not — here — within a Hegelian tradition where opposites (either/or) can be reconciled through a transcendent third term. And we are not — here — in that other dialectic (both/and) which would leave these opposites to be equally held together in the mind in an order affriming them both but keeping them unresolved. And we are not in these traditions and dialectics because we are asking what happens when the two terms in a binary argument are not able to anticipate the third term...Here, there appears Levinas' alien challenge to Hamlet's condition, and it asks: how can Hamlet's Being possibly see the forest for the trees? How can he anticipate a dis-interested-ness outside the order of 'to be or not to be' in order — because it is out of order —to assume or even consider another option, a radical responsibility for the other, an otherwise than Being, a third term?"

I was trying to look at the problem of the binary, H.D.'s desire to create union between the two, and the presence of a third thing, with the idea of the marginal. I didn't come up with any sort of answer for the problem, but thought the tension between binary ways of viewing, and the third thing, the Other, the marginal, was interesting. I think the answer to binaryisms is a third thing, a fourth thing, a fifth thing, multiplicities. As well as simultaneities. I like this quote because it seems to include an air of mystery, of the unknown, and the unknowable as part of that third thing, which seems obviously one place that H.D. was working from or towards in her poetry.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Part VI of Eurydice by H.D.


Against the black
I have more fervour
than you in all the splendour of that place,
against the blackness
and the stark grey
I have more light;
and the flowers,
if I should tell you,
you would turn from your own fit paths
toward hell,
turn again and glance back
and I would sink into a place even more terrible than this.