The Rarity of the Gesture of Small Flowers
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Rilke’s demand that the aspiring poet “know the gesture of small flowers” implies a gentle, Kantian knowing. Analogous to the kinship that Elaine Scarry finds between rarity and mental images, I find a kinship between the gesture of flowers and the gesturing of poems. A poem gestures rather than means or represents; it does not produce knowledge. It is a shade, an intimation, a resonance. As Alain Badiou writes in terms that echo both Kant and the subtractions of rarity: “at the farthest remove from knowledge, the poem is exemplarily a thought that is obtained in the retreat, or the defection, of everything that supports the faculty to know.” If such a poem gestures rather than means, it requires not interpretation but attention.
KeywordsOpen Window Small Flower Great Patience Romantic Idealism Mute Fate
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