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Representing the Other: A Conversation among Mikhail Bakhtin, Elizabeth Bishop, and Wislawa Szymborska

Representing the Other: A Conversation among Mikhail Bakhtin, Elizabeth Bishop, and Wislawa... All characterizations and determination of present-on-hand being that set it into dramatic motion blaze with the borrowed axiological light of otherness. —Bakhtin, “Author and Hero in Aesthetic Activity” The monument’s an object, yet those decorations, carelessly nailed, looking like nothing at all, give it away as having life, and wishing; wanting to be a monument, to cherish something. —Bishop, “The Monument” The master rejects with distaste the absurd thought that a table lost from view must remain a table, that the chair behind his back stays within the boundaries of a chair without even trying to take advantage of the situation. —Szymborska, “Interview with a Child” / N THE LAST STANZA OF “The Silence of Plants,” Wislawa Szymborska writes, addressing the plants, “A conversation with you is necessary and impossible,/ urgent in a hurried life/and postponed for never.” 1 With Szymborska, we ask, how are conversations with objects possible? What is the possibility for the representation of things as interlocutors rather than either grounds for colonization or silent bystanders? Our knowledge, Elizabeth Bishop writes in “At the Fishhouses,” is always historical and “flowing and flown”—constantly changing and constantly changed by a context outside our immediate perception. She refers http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Comparative Literature Duke University Press

Representing the Other: A Conversation among Mikhail Bakhtin, Elizabeth Bishop, and Wislawa Szymborska

Comparative Literature , Volume 57 (1) – Jan 1, 2005

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Publisher
Duke University Press
Copyright
Copyright 2005 by University of Oregon
ISSN
0010-4124
eISSN
1945-8517
DOI
10.1215/-57-1-84
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

All characterizations and determination of present-on-hand being that set it into dramatic motion blaze with the borrowed axiological light of otherness. —Bakhtin, “Author and Hero in Aesthetic Activity” The monument’s an object, yet those decorations, carelessly nailed, looking like nothing at all, give it away as having life, and wishing; wanting to be a monument, to cherish something. —Bishop, “The Monument” The master rejects with distaste the absurd thought that a table lost from view must remain a table, that the chair behind his back stays within the boundaries of a chair without even trying to take advantage of the situation. —Szymborska, “Interview with a Child” / N THE LAST STANZA OF “The Silence of Plants,” Wislawa Szymborska writes, addressing the plants, “A conversation with you is necessary and impossible,/ urgent in a hurried life/and postponed for never.” 1 With Szymborska, we ask, how are conversations with objects possible? What is the possibility for the representation of things as interlocutors rather than either grounds for colonization or silent bystanders? Our knowledge, Elizabeth Bishop writes in “At the Fishhouses,” is always historical and “flowing and flown”—constantly changing and constantly changed by a context outside our immediate perception. She refers

Journal

Comparative LiteratureDuke University Press

Published: Jan 1, 2005

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