Sunday, 13 December 2015

Getting it Wrong

David Williams notices that Anne Carson "com­pletely mis­read" an entry from The Amer­i­can Her­itage Dic­tio­nary of Indo-European Roots when making an etymological link in a recent poem.
If a poem made a sim­i­larly mis­in­formed claim about, say, basic math, we might be dis­posed to reject it as inco­her­ent. I’d be will­ing to bet though that most read­ers of Carson’s poem either accept the ety­mo­log­i­cal claim, or pass over it unboth­ered, pre­fer­ring to focus on the con­cep­tual con­nec­tions it cre­ates from within the pro­tec­tive shell of poetic licence. Yet should not a poem, being a thing made of con­cepts and lan­guage, and here address­ing the rela­tion­ships between con­cepts and lan­guage over time, be faith­ful to the dis­ci­pli­nary account of those rela­tion­ships, espe­cially if it invokes the dis­ci­pline as an authority? If not, is it dis­tin­guish­able from bull­shit, in the Frank­furt­ian sense?

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