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Mallarmé’s Tragico-Poetic Modernism

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Abstract

The strongest challenge to the legacy of nineteenth-century poetics—that is, modernism and postmodernism, what might be characterized as a depersonalized, fragmented and open aesthetic—has been the recognition that the void created by its linguistic, aesthetic, and hermeneutic crisis is a paradoxical resublimation of art.1 In the void of “depersonalization,” or “impersonality,” where the author “renounces” any authorial agency and thereby relinquishes the initiative to words (“[cède] l’initiative aux mots” [Mallarmé OC2: 211]), the poet comes to the realization that all is “fiction,” since the absolute is unattainable, and poetic creation is only possible through a purification of language. However, according to Slavoj Žižek, this depersonalization leads to a resacralization of the sublime literary space via its own negation, in that the utopian space of Mallarmé’s “nothing will have taken place but the place” (“Rien n’aura eu lieu que le lieu”), “for a priori structural reasons [because of Mallarmé’s use of the futur antérieur], can never be realized in the present tense (there will never be a present time in which ‘only the place itself will take place’). It is not only that the Place it occupies confers sublime dignity on an object; it is also that only the presence of this object sustains the Void of the Sacred Place, so that the Place itself never takes place, but is always something which, retroactively, ‘will have taken place’” (Žižek, Fragile 31).

Keywords

Aesthetic Experience Aesthetic Judgment Poetic Language Eternal Return Lyric Poetry 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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© Joseph Acquisto 2013

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