“Only Objectified Emotion Endures”


cover of February 1931 issue of Poetry magazine (“Objectivists” issue) edited by Louis Zukofsky

AG: [in media res…(partly how it) turns out. We’ll find something. Something, We’ll do something. Maybe we’ll give them chocolate.. PO: No, it’s bad for your teeth. (Give them) carrots.

[tape/class begins with miscellaneous student announcements (students requested to hand in their “self-evaluation forms”)] 

“Only objectified emotion endures” (Louis Zukofsky)

AG:  I have one short explanation. I’ve used the word(s)  “objectified emotion”  – “Only objectified emotion ensures” – But, just to make sure that the word is not misunderstood. It doesn’t mean “objective, as – quote,  “being objective limits room for emotion” – unquote – that’s not what I meant, or that is not what the word’s being used for. The word “objective” is not being used here for being objective is in order to limit emotion or to suppress emotion – that is not what I meant. It’s to express emotion in a way by taking it outside your body and finding a form for it outside.. a form for your emotion outside of your own body, so that other people can feel it. Because, it’s, like, let us say, what I felt with Gordon (Ball)’s film [sic], or what people might feel with my own poem,“Kaddish” or what you could feel with strong verse like “Ode to the West Wind”, that’s very emotional,  but it’s a big solid block of sound that makes you feel emotional. That is, you can’t communicate your emotion unless you communicate it with some.. you know.. You can’t communicate it…after you’re dead.

– “Only objectified emotion endures”  (was the verb). You can’t make it endure, or leave a big tear behind you, unless you find some physical form for it so that other people can look at it, or hear it, or smell it, or see it, or, if it’s painting, poetry or music..  So by “objectified”, it means, you’ve got to find a…some equivalent form that.. or some composition of it that represents the elements that caused you the emotion, or some.. or, perhaps, a projection of your breath and rhythm and heart-beat and ear that will move other people just like it moved you, or, which will represent your own feeling outside of you, outside of your own body. But you’ve got to find a form outside of your own body. You can’t just bang on the table, because that reverberation of banging on the table will not be heard in twenty minutes, much less centuries. So, that’s what “objectified” means here – making an object out of it, making a work of art out of it.

Is that clear ? It isn’t intended to inhibit feeling and emotion. If anything, it’s intended to clarify the emotion and make it even more visible, more “feely”..

And then, someone (one of the students)  in their review, said something that was really good (I don’t know whether it was something I said, or they figured it out, but it’s a good formulation) – “Poetry isn’t something artificially constructed out of language but is inherent in the language”  (which is something I’ve been trying to say all term) – Poetry is not  something artificially constructed out of language but is inherent in the language – in other words the elements are right there already, all you’ve got to do is recognize and use them  – like the breath, breath-stop, rhythms of speech as they are actually in real lfe, emotions as they actually are in real life, recollections as they really are. So, it’s inherent in the language. In other words, the building blocks for the poetry are inherent in the language, in our own bodies and in our own language.

So that was a nice way of putting it, I thought – Poetry isn’t something artificially constructed out of language – or poetry shouldn’t be – (most poetry is artificially constructed, but… most bad poetry is, but…  really interesting poetry is not something artificially constructed out of language but is inherent in the language. I think that’s putting it real sharp. Does that make sense?  It was, sort of, his conclusion of what was being (said,), of what he was picking up out of the class. I dug that.

{Audio for the above can be heard here, beginning at the beginning of the tape and concluding at approximately five-and-three-quarter minutes in]


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