Some artists cannot afford to believe that aesthetics are not inextricably tied to politics. In my final post of the series, I continue summarizing the significance of artists who, in giving expression to their visions of truth and meaning, ultimately resist normative discourses by refracting status quo representations of the world.
II. Refraction as Resistance: A Poetics of Non-linear
Deviating, shifting, indirect, crooked paths, “constant state of motion, dispersion, and permeability.”
I began with an accumulation, a sense of something, and this question: What is the significance of ‘refractive poetics’ for artists who identify with the margins or address alternative modes of seeing?
This series started with the intuition that certain works of art to which I am drawn translate the world for and through the liminal body, offering articulations that refract the straightforward, the literal, the dominant. What is the role of ambiguity and the inarticulable in these refractive poetries? Why are these qualities especially poignant for artists from the margins? How do the mechanisms of refraction allows these artists to achieve meaning and truth that is otherwise unlocatable?
This series started with the intuition that certain works of art to which I am drawn translate the world for and through the liminal body, offering articulations that refract the straightforward, the literal, the dominant. What is the role of ambiguity and the inarticulable in these refractive poetries? Why are these qualities especially poignant for artists from the margins?
In my previous post, I wanted to address the inherent political implications of how erasure poetry refracts a document into another one. I also asked: How do some poets use the rupturing of a text in order to reclaim, redress, resist? How does the intentional absenting of language attempt to succeed where its presence cannot? With this in mind, Zong! by M.
Erasure as an artistic form carries with it an urgent complexity of politics and ethics. Perhaps it is always inherently a political act. Perhaps it is always inherently a violent act, the removal of language as either defacing or disremembering. If erasure is a historical tool of the oppressor, can it ever be artistically innocent? We struggle with the complexities. The nuances change depending on the nature of the text being erased (government documents, nursery rhymes, Mein Kampf, the Holy Bible, speeches of Martin Luther King Jr., etc.) and on the person or entity doing the erasing. What power relations are implicated in such an act? What historical significance? Who gets to enact erasure, if anyone, and how does its impact or meaning change depending on who is implementing it?
In my investigations into how a poetics and politics of refraction sheds light on certain works by artists from the margins, it seems natural that, as a poet, I would eventually consider works of erasure. In light of my discussion of refraction, rupture, and ruins: