Lost Laboratories of the Sphinx

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:
Lost Laboratories of the Sphinx

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The task of understanding the concept of a modernist enigma becomes less intractable if we bear in mind the genealogical relation of the rhapsodic mode to the poetics of the riddle. For the enigma variations of Benjamin, Adorno, and Heidegger (who directly invokes the rhapsodic philosophy of Parmenides) can be placed in the context of a larger historical development—modernism—which betrays many of the basic features of rhapsodic invention. Reflexive, experimental, agitative, and heterogeneous in its materials, the poetry of the modern avant-garde coincides with, and frequently alludes to, a crisis in conceptions of metaphysical substance, precipitated in part by the development of quantum mechanics but also by the emergence of the modern technical media. Indeed, some of the most important legacies of experimental and vernacular modernism—including some of the poets associated with Objectivism and the poet-theorists of contemporary Language Poetry—are perhaps best understood as expressions of modern rhapsody.

Keywords: modernist enigma; rhapsodic philosophy; Parmenides; modernism; objectivism; poetic obscurity; slang; lyric obscurity; social relations; obscurantism

Chapter.  15835 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (Poetry and Poets)

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