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Poetry, Ghosts, Mediation

Poetry, Ghosts, Mediation This essay takes the example of a poem composed by a ghost in the Tang dynasty—one of many preserved in literary anthologies and treated as actually having been authored by the dead—as an entry point to ask broader questions of ghostly haunting and poetic presence. What the essay demonstrates is how both the ghost and the poem are informed by logics of analog mediation (rather than representation): how the ghost finds purchase in the world only through bodily possession, spatial haunting, material displacement, and psychic transference and how the poem effects the transmission of mind through the channels of linguistic form, meter, and rhyme. Neither the ghost nor the poem exists except in or as its mediations, yet through these mediations, both the ghost and the poem become present and are communicated into the world. While contemporary media theory has identified the intertwined discourses of technology and spiritualism, the focus has almost solely been on the nineteenth century and later, on the age of electric and electronic telecommunications. The medieval ghost poem, as an exemplary case, complicates this account, showing how poetry has long served as a necrotechnology that mediates the dead and returns ghosts to presence. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Qui Parle Duke University Press

Poetry, Ghosts, Mediation

Qui Parle , Volume 31 (1) – Jun 1, 2022

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Copyright
Copyright © 2022 Editorial Board, Qui Parle
ISSN
1041-8385
eISSN
1938-8020
DOI
10.1215/10418385-9669459
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

This essay takes the example of a poem composed by a ghost in the Tang dynasty—one of many preserved in literary anthologies and treated as actually having been authored by the dead—as an entry point to ask broader questions of ghostly haunting and poetic presence. What the essay demonstrates is how both the ghost and the poem are informed by logics of analog mediation (rather than representation): how the ghost finds purchase in the world only through bodily possession, spatial haunting, material displacement, and psychic transference and how the poem effects the transmission of mind through the channels of linguistic form, meter, and rhyme. Neither the ghost nor the poem exists except in or as its mediations, yet through these mediations, both the ghost and the poem become present and are communicated into the world. While contemporary media theory has identified the intertwined discourses of technology and spiritualism, the focus has almost solely been on the nineteenth century and later, on the age of electric and electronic telecommunications. The medieval ghost poem, as an exemplary case, complicates this account, showing how poetry has long served as a necrotechnology that mediates the dead and returns ghosts to presence.

Journal

Qui ParleDuke University Press

Published: Jun 1, 2022

References