Content's Dream : Essays 1975-1984

Overview

Content's Dream: Essays, 1975-1984 is the celebrated introduction to language poetry by one of its leading practitioners, Charles Bernstein. First published in 1986, and now a classic study of the poetry and poetics of late-twentieth-century America, this collection of essays conducts us with wit, intelligence, and consummate style through the elaborate relations between language and culture. Bernstein considers verbal, pictorial, and filmic language to understand why writing is never the unmediated expression of...

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Overview

Content's Dream: Essays, 1975-1984 is the celebrated introduction to language poetry by one of its leading practitioners, Charles Bernstein. First published in 1986, and now a classic study of the poetry and poetics of late-twentieth-century America, this collection of essays conducts us with wit, intelligence, and consummate style through the elaborate relations between language and culture. Bernstein considers verbal, pictorial, and filmic language to understand why writing is never the unmediated expression of personal feeling but always charged with latent meaning.
Addressing a wide range of arts, Bernstein's essays move gracefully from discussions of Mad Max, Stan Brakhage, and Arakawa, to William Carlos Williams, Louis Zukovsky and Jackson Mac Low. Rather than propose grand theories, Bernstein synthesizes the many sets of ideas that are necessary for a practical understanding of contemporary culture. Reading a variety of texts and expanding on his own thinking and method, Bernstein provides a brilliant introduction not only to language writing but to all avant-garde literary ambitions of the last two decades of the century.
At once irreverent and deeply serious, as indebted to Groucho Marx as it is to Stanley Cavell, Content's Dream stakes out a clear cultural and aesthetic position for one extraordinary poet, for language poetry, and for our time.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
As co-editor of the journal L=A=N= G=U=A=G=E, poet and critic Bernstein has published writers whose shared goal is the transformation of society. Since words encode social values, the writer must break with routine thought patterns, and, in doing so, help readers outgrow the ``hierarchialized'' structures that warp both capitalist and communist societies, argues Bernstein. This collection of 26 of his essays explores such topics as commercial movies' idealization of society, writing as a form of psychic surgery, William Carlos Williams's break with ``official verse culture,'' Arakawa's conceptual paintings and Ginsberg's poetics of breath. Several pieces employ fractured syntax and shifting frames of reference; a poem about the nature of work concludes, ``There's no escape from the nine-to-five self.'' Bernstein explores multiple ways of viewing reality as he ranges from Blake to Zukofsky. (June 15
Booknews
This reprint appears on its own, without new prefatory material. Bernstein (poetry and letters, State U. of New York, Buffalo) muses on various aspects of contemporary culture and the ideas they embody; he is above all interested in the nature of language, written and verbal. Himself a practitioner of language poetry, Bernstein's essays provide thought-provoking interpretations of late 20th-century approaches to the arts, with consideration of Jackson Mac Low, Louis Zukofsky, Arakawa, and Stan Brakhage, among others. There is no index. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780810118454
  • Publisher: Northwestern University Press
  • Publication date: 3/28/2001
  • Series: Avant-Garde & Modernism Studies Series
  • Edition description: 1
  • Pages: 465
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Charles Bernstein is the David Gray Professor of Poetry and Letters at the State University of New York at Buffalo and cofounder of the journal L-A-N-G-U-A-G-E. He is the author of My Way: Speeches and Poems and A Poetics and editor of 99 Poets/1999 : An International Poetics Symposium and Close Listening: Poetry and the Performed Word .

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Table of Contents

Preface 9
1 The Secret of Syntax
Three or Four Things I Know about Him 13
Semblance 34
Stray Straws and Straw Men 40
A Particular Thing 50
Style 53
The Dollar Value of Poetry 57
Thought's Measure 61
2 Film of Perception
Frames of Reference 89
Words and Pictures 114
3 Reading, Person, Philosophy
The Objects of Meaning: Reading Cavell Reading Wittgenstein 165
Meaning the Meaning: Arakawa's Critique of Space 184
The Stadium of Explanation 196
On Theatricality 199
G -/ 208
Writing and Method 217
4 Conspiracies
Introduction 239
The Academy in Peril: William Carlos Williams Meets the MLA 244
Jackson at Home 252
Maintaining Space: Clark Coolidge's Early Works 259
Making Words Visible/Hannah Weiner 266
The Alphabet of Stride 271
Counting and Uncounting 274
Writing Against the Body 276
Robin Blaser Introduction 282
Hejinian's Notes 284
I Think I Understand Alan Davies 286
With Words: An Assembling of Visual Works from New York 289
Hearing 'Here': Robert Creeley's Poetics of Duration 292
Narrating Narration: The Shapes of Ron Silliman's Work 305
Undone Business 321
The Telling 340
The Conspiracy of "Us" 343
5 Flesh
Blood on the Cutting Room Floor 351
Living Tissue/Dead Ideas 363
6 Catechesis
An Interview with Tom Beckett 385
Socialist Realism or Real Socialism? 411
Characterization 428
Acknowledgements 463
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