A book-length, syntactically surprising poem divided into many sections, it is interspersed with delightful descriptions of daily experience with references to illustrious writers and thinkers of the past and their systems of philosophical inquiry. It offers humorous reflection upon our species' endless attempts to transmit insight regarding our human condition....
|Number of Pages||:||88 Pages|
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The Fatalist Reviews
Another bold work by Hejinian that drives at fate and time deeper and deeper. You can really feel the importance of problems of time and fate for the work and the poet. This work seems to be a genre blender and seems to have been fashioned out of partial autobiography, poetic images, stream of consciousness associations, and a deep concern with philosophical problems. I admire Hejinian and appreciate this work that she does. Maybe too much: I find it overwhelming and I even felt my writing cramp up as I worked through this book.
The Fatalist is a terrific instance of Hejinian’s work in recent years: a lush re-purposing of sinuous, elegant syntactic constructions to hoover up just about anything that happens in the mind in time. Everything from childhood Victoriana to John Zorn ensembles get gathered up into the poem, which becomes a field of surprise and play in every sense: play of signifiers, mind at play, the play’s the thing, play that funky music, you name it. Because her lines push clauses through time with the variety and complexity usually attributed to “fine” writing, the poems slip easily past the centurions of craft—there’s no doubt among the doubting that this counts as poetry. But beneath the surface shine, The Fatalist in fact functions as “a site of resistance to resolution” that refuses any logic (of mortality, of fate) that insists things have to end.
• I love a lot of language and post-avant poetry, but this exemplifies the worst excesses of the genre, with long, only intermittently crafted lines linked only by "Things That Happened To Lyn This Year."• Not everything has to be fussed over. but "The Fatalist" doesn't feel edited thematically, giving it a second-draft feel. What's frustrating is that it often hints at something powerful beneath, but comes across as layered noodling that's too self-indulgent to be evasive.• I'll definitely read her other work - she's a hugely important poet - but this felt like the sort of late work that arises when publication isn't a struggle.
Here, more than in any of her other books (or in any book of poetry by anyone as far as I know), Hejinian makes poetry into a way of doing philosophy. This isn't just poetry with philosophical references and themes thrown in--it's emphatic thought in the form of brilliant sentences constructed from the juxtaposition of phrases--concrete observation converging perfectly with an undogmatic yet rigorous philosophy of temporal experience. Funny and odd and breathtaking, it's my favorite work of hers.
Hejinian makes an optical illusion with the reality in her poems. By taking one simple perception out, and then shifting her reader's observation, it fans out into something much larger. It's almost like working a jigsaw puzzle, taking a piece out, and then suddenly having it change into a holograph. Hejinian's real skill comes in the way she can make that new piece fit so neatly into the place where it belongs.
Having had the privilege to meet her in person, I became more enamoured with this work by her and her philosophy of fate being the past that shapes us into who we are. There are many moments of cynicism, but it never really fades into defeatist sentimentality--which I appreciate.Also, the form it is written in is a lot more approachable than other more "standard" format poems, I think. It's more prose-like.
Cleaned out some books, and came across this, which I never really read. I'm setting it by the bedside for regular bracing dips. Good stuff, if poetically oblique.PS I will never actually finish this book.
It took me a long time to read this book, and I'll need to read it again, if not several times, before I can say anything useful about it. I liked it, though.
'Each person is an experience for others.'&'reality provides the materials/from which the imagination concocts what it cares about'