The Anti-closural Modes of Postmodern Aesthetics

Ms Ewa Chrusciel
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The concept of poetic closure and anti-closure has attracted many debates concerning modernity and postmodernity. Postmodernist language poets have often criticized the epiphanic mode in some contemporary lyric poetry as having smug pretensions to universality. Closure for such poets as Lyn Hejinian means "reduction and commodification" — works that are directed towards a single reading and do not leave any lurking ambiguity (43). On the other hand in "open texts" all the "elements of a work are maximally excited;" they exceed the argument, open uncertainty and generate potency. Form becomes an activity rather than a fixture (47).

Barbara Hernstein-Smith argues that striving for closure displays a common human need for stability, resolution and equilibrium. This is congruent with idealized cognitive principles of clarity as well as the cognitive preference of perceptual salience. Postmodern poetics, however, deliberately overrides such idealized cognitive models as "good gestalt over poor gestalt, stereotypical over non-stereotypical, typical over nontypical", and "central over peripheral". The striving for closure which might seem conceptually natural is questionable in late 20th century aesthetics favoring what is asymmetrical, irregular, anti-closural. The question, however, remains: how is this anti-closure constructed and is there a hidden structure and pattern in what often looks random and meaningless?

In my paper, then, I analyze the metonymic mode of writing poetry, as well as apply the rhizomatic and fractal theory in postmodern aesthetics. I argue that such poets as Lyn Hejinian, Jorie Graham, A.R Ammons do not open texts by freeing them from the constraints of form, but rather by generating interpretative potency and plentitude, contingency and indeterminacy. The postmodern preoccupation is "rather than proceeding along a trajectory toward a known end, – open future marked by contingency and unpredictability" (Hayles 285).

Keywords: Closure, Anti-closure, Fractal Poetry, Rhizome, Myopia, Metonymy, Contingency, Indeterminacy, Anti-epiphanic
Stream: Literature, Literary Studies
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: Anti-closural Modes of Postmodern Aesthetics, The

Ms Ewa Chrusciel

Assistant and PhD student, English Studies Department, Illinois State University

Ewa Chrusciel has completed her masters at Jagiellonian University, Kraków, Poland and has been recently pursuing her PhD degree at Illinois State University, Normal, IL, US. Her focus is postmodern poetry and cognitive poetics. She is an author of one book of poems "Furkot" published in Kraków 2003 and a translator of a few books (Conrad, London, Singer) from English to Polish, as well as a number of poems published in literary magazines and anthologies. She's taught composition, literature, as well as English as a second language.

Ref: H05P0328