Introduction: Lyric Substance and Social Being

Daniel Tiffany

in Infidel Poetics

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print October 2009 | ISBN: 9780226803098
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226803111 | DOI:
Introduction: Lyric Substance and Social Being

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In popular music today, there is a flourishing market in poetic obscurity—in lyrics composed in various kinds of slang, jargon, or patois, which make little or no sense to most listeners. This book emphasizes that analysis of the poetics of obscurity should not be viewed as a defense of obscurantism or an apology for “difficult” poetry (in contrast to the plain style). Obscurity in poetry is a matter disclosed upon reception—what G. W. Leibniz calls “perception”—not something intrinsic to particular properties of the verbal artifact. All verbal phenomena are simultaneously obscure and transparent, taking into account the range of possible responses—or the variability within a single response. Obscurity, from this perspective, is native to the ontology of poetry. More specifically, despite a recent “bubble” in the accreditation of poetry, the art of poetry persists today—as perhaps it always has—in cultural obscurity.

Keywords: popular music; poetry; poetic obscurity; slang; lyric obscurity; social relations; obscurantism; difficult poetry; cultural obscurity

Chapter.  5877 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (Poetry and Poets)

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