A Meschonnic Glossary

A Meschonnic Glossary
Avra Spector and Lisa Robertson

Subject: The path from one voice to another. The mode of orality; the charged movement of time upon the self and towards others; the expression of transformation and continuity; the realization of the social. The subject has a meaning only via orality. It makes in language that which has never yet been made;

Language: Immaterial. All language is lyric, that is, a gestural movement towards another-- inseparable from the human, so not an instrument. The instrumentalization of language is secondary to and independent of this embodied aptitude;

Poem: that form of life that turns everything into language and vice versa; a listening that compels a listening. A poem is a continuity, an action, not an object—a straying of the voice. A poem refuses words in order to make living different from what it was before;

Poetry: See literature. The adoration of poetry ends in an idolatry of words;

Critique: A strategy of research; keeps the necessary conflict between historical and non-historical thought alive; refuses the stability of categories;

Subjectiver/ subjectivization: a throwing into movement;

Forme-sujet/ subject-disposition: A kind of difference possible among bodies. Benveniste cites Aristotle: The fundamental relationships among bodies are established by their mutual differences, and these differences come down to three—Form, (ruthmos) order (taxis), and position (thesis).
“Water and Air . . . differ from each other in the form their constituent atoms take[i]”;

Historicity: The continuous addition of others to the subject; rhythm; the activity of continuity;

History: Monumentalizes; appropriates the present so that experience ceases to change;

Market: The space of the sign; the willed delimitation of experience; the erasure of the present;

The Sign/ le signe: Greco-Roman; the opposition between the conscious and the unconscious. For Saussure, the sign is arbitrary and opposite life; Meschonnic’s critique of the sign exposes it as the totalizing reason of the state. Founded on, exalted in, a binarism. An impoverishment;

Affect: There is no separation between affect and concept;

Collectivity: Not the opposite of individualism;

Lyric/ lyrisme: Through lyric the exiled body is enduringly heretical. As such, lyric repudiates the binary grammars which seemingly enclose it: Lyric/epic, in the traditional formulation, or lyric/experimental, in the parlance of the avant-garde;

Dehistoricize: “As long as a language is isolated it has no history[ii]”;

Value: Difference controlled in a structure; value reduces and consolidates. Maintains the binary convention;

Meter: An artificially closed relation between culture and language. To be differentiated from rhythm; belonging to the Sign. The false distinction between poetry and prose;

Oral/orality: a taste of language; a situational engagement; Orality is the enunciation of sociality;

Translate: Only what is transcribed in the prevailing fashion is translated immediately;

Rhythm: When the bodily subject prevails; the continuous movement of significance from subject to subject; the organization of the subject in and by her language inasmuch as language can’t ever already exist; meaning as a continuous wandering of intersubjectivity; always historicized;

Poetics: A route; systems. Continuity is a system; discontinuity is a structure. Corporality, as opposed to polemics;

Individualism: the market;

Experience: in the tradition of the subject, a sensation appropriated by consciousness;

Experiment: has been reified as a currency within the avant-garde. As a protocol, its role is to group and to regulate;

                  Experience/Experiment: Must be released from identity, which shuts off from

Discourse: No longer effective without a theory of rhythm. The movement beyond the semiotic structure;

Experience: multi-reciprocal bathing;

Experiment: all writing;

Oeuvre: what can be passed on to others;

Mallarmé: each era has confined the name Mallarmé differently-- deluded, obscure, brilliant, experimental-- but to similar effect: to function as a proponent of the contemporary sign. Whereas for Meschonnic, Mallarmé’s oeuvre, which includes also the correspondence and everything unpublished, is unpositionable because its language refuses determination. Mallarmé shows that any language has everything: “if there is a mystery in the world it would be found in Figaro[iii]”;

Voice: The voice seizes subjectivity as an improvisatory present;

Sens: Meaning is sensation. Not the same as communication, which is totalizing. As infinity, meaning always moves towards and upon. Relationships;

Infinity: The empirical condition shared by both historicity and meaning;

Ethics: Poetics; problematizes categories; the subject, because it blends itself across many categories, calling them into question, is ethical by principle;

Politics: The event of a listening as language; The experience of language is always political because politics is rhythmic, not because of the arbitrary division of language into signifier and signified.

Two frequencies of language within politics can be identified:
  1. P(l): the continuous feast
  2. P(L): a predicating mode of relationship

Each of these two frequencies leads to a different concept of
  1. politics of society: P(s), P(S);

Semiotisation: The regime of the duality of the sign; abolished by the poem;

Signifiance: The specific production of elements that contribute to both meaning and signification without their knowing it. These elements are the semantics of rhythm and of prosody.

Order: The first principle of rhyme. An echoing within temporality. The fabulous is found in order, not chaos;

Literature: The invention of constraints that inscribe the physics of language’s orality into writing;

Communication: Instrumental; serves to totalize. A reduction of language;

Metaphor: A transitive duration; a reading straying towards. Immaterially metaphor realizes subjects. When it stops, metaphor becomes symbol and subjects fix as identities;

Thought: To think is what a poem is;

Orality: The possibility of relationship;
Society: The Feast. Not at Plato’s house. All days are feasts;
Subjectivity: the immaterial, gestural, ennunciative capacity.

[i] Emile Benveniste. Problems in General Linguistics, “The Notion of ‘Rhythm’ in its Linguistic Expression” translated by Mary Elizabeth Meek (University of Miami Press, Florida, 1971) 283.
[ii] Antoine Meillet. The Comparative Method in Historical Linguistics translated by Gordon B. Ford Jr., (Paris 1967) 25.
[iii] quotation cited in “Mallarmé au-delà du silence” Henri Meschonnic, in Stéphane Mallarmé Ecrits sur le Livre, (Editions D’Eclats, Paris, 1985) 16.

No comments: