Welcome to Bookmarker!

This is a personal project by @dellsystem. I built this to help me retain information from the books I'm reading.

Source code on GitHub (MIT license).

xiv

John Ashbery writes in “Paradoxes and Oxymorons” that experiencing a poem is:

A deeper outside thing, a dreamed role-pattern,
As in the division of grace these long August days
Without proof. Open-ended. And before you know
It gets lost in the steam and chatter of typewriters.

Ashbery’s poem points to that feeling of being just on the verge of knowing, and even for a moment knowing, something the poem has told us, something vital. But before you can hold on to that knowledge, it is gone, at least until you read the poem again. The experience of getting close to the unsayable and feeling it, and how we are brought to that place beyond words by words themselves, is the subject of this book.

—p.xiv by Matthew Zapruder 2 years, 11 months ago

John Ashbery writes in “Paradoxes and Oxymorons” that experiencing a poem is:

A deeper outside thing, a dreamed role-pattern,
As in the division of grace these long August days
Without proof. Open-ended. And before you know
It gets lost in the steam and chatter of typewriters.

Ashbery’s poem points to that feeling of being just on the verge of knowing, and even for a moment knowing, something the poem has told us, something vital. But before you can hold on to that knowledge, it is gone, at least until you read the poem again. The experience of getting close to the unsayable and feeling it, and how we are brought to that place beyond words by words themselves, is the subject of this book.

—p.xiv by Matthew Zapruder 2 years, 11 months ago
xvi

I have always been viscerally resistant to hitch up poetry to the wagon of utility. As John Keats wrote in a letter, “we hate poetry that has a palpable design upon us.” Poetry seems to get worse the more it seems interested in lecturing and instructing us, usually about things that we already know and agree with. To think of poetry as useful in a social or political way also struck me as dangerous, in that it threatens to demand of poetry something that prose can do far better, and therefore to argue poetry into extinction.

—p.xvi by Matthew Zapruder 2 years, 11 months ago

I have always been viscerally resistant to hitch up poetry to the wagon of utility. As John Keats wrote in a letter, “we hate poetry that has a palpable design upon us.” Poetry seems to get worse the more it seems interested in lecturing and instructing us, usually about things that we already know and agree with. To think of poetry as useful in a social or political way also struck me as dangerous, in that it threatens to demand of poetry something that prose can do far better, and therefore to argue poetry into extinction.

—p.xvi by Matthew Zapruder 2 years, 11 months ago
2

From the library I procured a book and started reading the poems. There was no reason to think I was going to enjoy them. I was not a particularly artistic kid, and I didn’t work on our high school literary magazine, or write. Nothing was auspicious. I do not remember opening the book. Yet to this day I still remember reading the first few lines of “Musée des Beaux Arts”:

About suffering they were never wrong,
The Old Masters: how well they understood
Its human position: how it takes place
While someone else is eating or opening a window or just
walking dully along

and something just clicked. I can’t say I felt I immediately understood everything, but the poem seemed to mean something I could not quite put my finger on, something important to me.

—p.2 by Matthew Zapruder 2 years, 11 months ago

From the library I procured a book and started reading the poems. There was no reason to think I was going to enjoy them. I was not a particularly artistic kid, and I didn’t work on our high school literary magazine, or write. Nothing was auspicious. I do not remember opening the book. Yet to this day I still remember reading the first few lines of “Musée des Beaux Arts”:

About suffering they were never wrong,
The Old Masters: how well they understood
Its human position: how it takes place
While someone else is eating or opening a window or just
walking dully along

and something just clicked. I can’t say I felt I immediately understood everything, but the poem seemed to mean something I could not quite put my finger on, something important to me.

—p.2 by Matthew Zapruder 2 years, 11 months ago
13

Language waits to be released in poetry. Poetry enacts the possibilities and powers that lie dormant in the nature of language itself. Poems are where contradictions and possibilities of the material of this meaning-making system are deliberately brought forth and celebrated, ultimately undistracted by any other overriding purpose.

Unlike other forms of writing, poetry takes as its primary task to insist and depend upon and celebrate the troubled relation of the word to what it represents. In following what is beautiful and uncertain in language, we get to a truth that is beyond our ability to articulate when we are attempting to “use” language to convey our ideas or stories.

—p.13 by Matthew Zapruder 2 years, 11 months ago

Language waits to be released in poetry. Poetry enacts the possibilities and powers that lie dormant in the nature of language itself. Poems are where contradictions and possibilities of the material of this meaning-making system are deliberately brought forth and celebrated, ultimately undistracted by any other overriding purpose.

Unlike other forms of writing, poetry takes as its primary task to insist and depend upon and celebrate the troubled relation of the word to what it represents. In following what is beautiful and uncertain in language, we get to a truth that is beyond our ability to articulate when we are attempting to “use” language to convey our ideas or stories.

—p.13 by Matthew Zapruder 2 years, 11 months ago
36

Whether or not the poet knew all this about the word “corridor,” I very much doubt she was consciously aware of it while writing this poem. When a poet writes, she feels instinctively if a word is correct. She could easily have written other words there: the daffodils could have brought themselves into the meadow, into the field, into the garden, and so on. But the poet’s brain chose “corridor,” she knew it was the right word, probably because it is in a sense the wrong word, the word we were not anticipating. This is what Aristotle meant when he wrote, in The Poetics, that poets are those who have “an eye for resemblances”; that is, for seeing similarities and connections that others do not.

poem is:

Smart daffodils! They waited
till the cold snap was over, then brought themselves
into the corridor, like lamps of pity—

—p.36 by Matthew Zapruder 2 years, 11 months ago

Whether or not the poet knew all this about the word “corridor,” I very much doubt she was consciously aware of it while writing this poem. When a poet writes, she feels instinctively if a word is correct. She could easily have written other words there: the daffodils could have brought themselves into the meadow, into the field, into the garden, and so on. But the poet’s brain chose “corridor,” she knew it was the right word, probably because it is in a sense the wrong word, the word we were not anticipating. This is what Aristotle meant when he wrote, in The Poetics, that poets are those who have “an eye for resemblances”; that is, for seeing similarities and connections that others do not.

poem is:

Smart daffodils! They waited
till the cold snap was over, then brought themselves
into the corridor, like lamps of pity—

—p.36 by Matthew Zapruder 2 years, 11 months ago
41

According to Shklovsky, artistic texts use the exact same language as texts designed primarily to convey information, but do something different with it. The specific mechanism by which language becomes not merely a conduit to convey meaning, but something more, is called, in Russian, “ostraneniye,” most often translated as “defamiliarization,” though a more literal translation would be something like “strangeifying.”

Shklovsky describes how, as we go through our daily lives, our perceptions of things become “habitual” and “automatic.” We start to lose the sense of the actuality of things, and treat them as abstractions.

Habitualization devours work, clothes, furniture, one’s wife, and the fear of war . . . And art exists that one may recover the sensation of life; it exists to make one feel things, to make the stone stony.

—p.41 by Matthew Zapruder 2 years, 11 months ago

According to Shklovsky, artistic texts use the exact same language as texts designed primarily to convey information, but do something different with it. The specific mechanism by which language becomes not merely a conduit to convey meaning, but something more, is called, in Russian, “ostraneniye,” most often translated as “defamiliarization,” though a more literal translation would be something like “strangeifying.”

Shklovsky describes how, as we go through our daily lives, our perceptions of things become “habitual” and “automatic.” We start to lose the sense of the actuality of things, and treat them as abstractions.

Habitualization devours work, clothes, furniture, one’s wife, and the fear of war . . . And art exists that one may recover the sensation of life; it exists to make one feel things, to make the stone stony.

—p.41 by Matthew Zapruder 2 years, 11 months ago
43

In one of Dickinson’s oft-quoted poems, “Hope” is defined as “the thing with feathers / That perches in the soul.” A “thing with feathers” is, of course, a bird. But saying it that way, as if it is unfamiliar, and needs to be described again, causes us to rethink those qualities of a bird that resemble hope, and in turn to rethink hope. Just imagine how, if the poem just said “‘Hope’ is a bird / That perches in the soul,” we would be immediately in the land of Hallmark cards. Describing a bird as if she didn’t know the name for it, and assigning its qualities to the abstract concept of “hope,” is the defamiliarizing technique of the poem. It has an almost clinical unsentimentality, an objectivity of insight that feels trustworthy, won from hard thinking.

—p.43 by Matthew Zapruder 2 years, 11 months ago

In one of Dickinson’s oft-quoted poems, “Hope” is defined as “the thing with feathers / That perches in the soul.” A “thing with feathers” is, of course, a bird. But saying it that way, as if it is unfamiliar, and needs to be described again, causes us to rethink those qualities of a bird that resemble hope, and in turn to rethink hope. Just imagine how, if the poem just said “‘Hope’ is a bird / That perches in the soul,” we would be immediately in the land of Hallmark cards. Describing a bird as if she didn’t know the name for it, and assigning its qualities to the abstract concept of “hope,” is the defamiliarizing technique of the poem. It has an almost clinical unsentimentality, an objectivity of insight that feels trustworthy, won from hard thinking.

—p.43 by Matthew Zapruder 2 years, 11 months ago
64

A room that is like a reverie, a room truly soulful, where the stagnant atmosphere is lightly tinted with rose-colour and blue. There the soul bathes in idleness, made fragrant by regret and desire. It is a thing of twilight, bluish and roseate; a dream of delicious pleasures during an eclipse. The furniture is formed of elongated, prostrated, languishing shapes. The furniture appears to be dreaming; it seems endowed with a somnambulistic life, like vegetables or minerals. The cloth materials speak a silent language, like flowers, like skies, like setting suns.

prose poem by Charles Baudelaire

—p.64 missing author 2 years, 11 months ago

A room that is like a reverie, a room truly soulful, where the stagnant atmosphere is lightly tinted with rose-colour and blue. There the soul bathes in idleness, made fragrant by regret and desire. It is a thing of twilight, bluish and roseate; a dream of delicious pleasures during an eclipse. The furniture is formed of elongated, prostrated, languishing shapes. The furniture appears to be dreaming; it seems endowed with a somnambulistic life, like vegetables or minerals. The cloth materials speak a silent language, like flowers, like skies, like setting suns.

prose poem by Charles Baudelaire

—p.64 missing author 2 years, 11 months ago
72

Free verse and rhyming poetry are often said to be in opposition. But, really, they are just different versions of what poetry does. Just as a rhyming poem is built up out of a pattern of repeating end sounds, in some pattern or even irregularly, a poem can rhyme conceptually: that is, through ideas that relate in some way, obvious or hidden. Through their redness, “rose” and “fire truck” rhyme conceptually, as do “deconstruction” and “deep sea diving” (Jacques Derrida and Jacques Cousteau). It can not only be fun to conceptually rhyme, but also be good practice to write formal poems that use conceptual, as opposed to sonic, rhymes. A poem that seems too static because it is locked into a single idea, or a rigid expository framework, can often become both looser and also more true when the poet allows ideas to rhyme conceptually. Conceptual rhyme is not merely a pleasure for poets, but very close to the purpose of poetry, to provide a place for associative thinking.

—p.72 by Matthew Zapruder 2 years, 11 months ago

Free verse and rhyming poetry are often said to be in opposition. But, really, they are just different versions of what poetry does. Just as a rhyming poem is built up out of a pattern of repeating end sounds, in some pattern or even irregularly, a poem can rhyme conceptually: that is, through ideas that relate in some way, obvious or hidden. Through their redness, “rose” and “fire truck” rhyme conceptually, as do “deconstruction” and “deep sea diving” (Jacques Derrida and Jacques Cousteau). It can not only be fun to conceptually rhyme, but also be good practice to write formal poems that use conceptual, as opposed to sonic, rhymes. A poem that seems too static because it is locked into a single idea, or a rigid expository framework, can often become both looser and also more true when the poet allows ideas to rhyme conceptually. Conceptual rhyme is not merely a pleasure for poets, but very close to the purpose of poetry, to provide a place for associative thinking.

—p.72 by Matthew Zapruder 2 years, 11 months ago
79

I think this is one reason why Ashbery is often thought of as difficult or elusive. It can seem to readers either like there is nothing there, or that they are missing something. “The poem is sad, because it wants to be yours, and cannot,” he writes in another poem, “Paradoxes and Oxymorons,” which begins:

This poem is concerned with language on a very plain level.
Look at it talking to you. You look out a window
Or pretend to fidget. You have it but you don’t have it.
You miss it, it misses you. You miss each other.

—p.79 by Matthew Zapruder 2 years, 11 months ago

I think this is one reason why Ashbery is often thought of as difficult or elusive. It can seem to readers either like there is nothing there, or that they are missing something. “The poem is sad, because it wants to be yours, and cannot,” he writes in another poem, “Paradoxes and Oxymorons,” which begins:

This poem is concerned with language on a very plain level.
Look at it talking to you. You look out a window
Or pretend to fidget. You have it but you don’t have it.
You miss it, it misses you. You miss each other.

—p.79 by Matthew Zapruder 2 years, 11 months ago