Saturday, October 10, 2009


This is for Keith mostly, will you see it? I saw your Attention Span 2009 post about von Hallberg -- whose lyric book I haven't yet read --

"Musicality authenticates poetry, a crucial function in a discourse that strains against social conventions." Von Hallberg links poetry or rather an “orphic tradition” with structures of belief that persist beyond irony and skepticism in a secular culture

OK, musicality. Because of the Rhetoric of Song class I was thinking about lyric vs. song. A duh difference between lyric and song is that songs are performed out loud and a performer and a listener are both present (epos, in Frye's terms). A lyric poem even if spoken aloud doesn't call into being the resonant frequencies associated with music. And of course it's not necessarily performative (calm down cris, I mean performative very narrowly here) though it figures or implies performance.

I want to connect the silencing of the literally performative aspect (musical) aspect of song with the paronomasia of lyric. Of course lyric *figures* the situation of song, but I mean something more literal, to do with the creative process: that when music goes silent and the potential for song is realized silently, maybe that's where we get paronomasia. The resonant energies that would have occupied musical frequencies are diverted into other sonic and semantic registers.

Reductive, and not applicable to all lyric, and totally dreamy speculation --


  1. cathy this is really cool. i like the idea of semantic harmonies arising from a lack of actual ones. so lyric poets were/are trying to make up for this absence of sound? why don't they just pick up a lute?

  2. the other thing I wanted to add is that this notion of interiorization of musicality (aufhebung-ing of musicality?)is a way to connect lyric's privacy -- its "overheardness" or indirect, rather than direct, connection to audience -- with its other conventional attribute, musicality.

    Ascii-text: yes to picking up lutes -- I like singing -- I don't mean it so literally though -- I don't think I do. I mean something more like: the idea of literally performed musicality being interiorized/erased/transformed is a way to think about the relationship between song and lyric. But I don't mean for song to _precede_ lyric or to be its origin, and I don't mean that lyric should just get some music and then it will feel better about itself. It's not that lyric is lacking, more like lyric needs the category of song in order to be lyric and it's always been that way.

    I am procrastinating bad.