Givenness is a veil. As proof, the first words of Emmanuel Levinas’s Totality and Infinity chop and screw Rimbaud’s oft-quoted “The true life is elsewhere. We are not in the world.” For Levinas, it’s a crucial corrective: “‘The true life is absent.’ But we are in the world.” Truer words were never slowed and throwed.
During a visit to the Kelly Writers House — on his way from Glasgow to Managua — Shetland poet Christie Williamson took some time to read his poem "Da Burn" and responded to a few of our questions about it and the Shetlandic language. Click on the video screenshot below to watch the video. The text of the poem is also below.
Can’t we admit it, out loud, if only to each other? Or else, more accurately, “the poem” (-qua- “revelation”) is broken. We’ve known this, intuitively, at leastsince developing the good sense to invite our readers to the table.
I start writing this lecture after class. I’m following what the poet Mary Ruefle writes in her book Madness, Rack, and Honey (2012) about how, upon being required to deliver standing lectures to graduate students, she opted to write them out instead of providing spontaneous, informal talks.