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‘That they are there': George Oppen, Alain Badiou, and the Politics of Number

Herd, David (2010) ‘That they are there': George Oppen, Alain Badiou, and the Politics of Number. Comparative American Studies, 8 (1). pp. 57-76. ISSN 1477-5700. (doi:10.1179/147757010X12658885872378) (The full text of this publication is not currently available from this repository. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided) (KAR id:40575)

The full text of this publication is not currently available from this repository. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided. (Contact us about this Publication)
Official URL
http://dx.doi.org/10.1179/147757010X12658885872378

Abstract

In this essay, a discussion of George Oppen's poetics of number is presented. From his first book, Discrete Series, to his Pulitzer Prize winning volume, Of Being Numerous and throughout his Daybooks, the language of number figured conspicuously in Oppen's poetic thought. Taking their shared beginning in Heidegger as a point of departure, the essay reads Oppen alongside the philosophy of Alain Badiou, discussing how both writers work towards an idea of poetry checked and informed by an idea of number. Thus, just as Oppen aimed to arrive at an understanding 'Of Being Numerous', so for Badiou 'Being is essentially multiple', with the language of number, in both writers, providing the basis for an image of collective politics. In Oppen, such an image of collectivity, though formed in his political work of the 1930s, was deepened and consolidated by his experience of World War Two. Arising from that experience, in his poetry of the 1960s there is a language of universalism that transcends national discourse, a language which, fully to be appreciated, calls for comparative intellectual dialogue. It is suggested that readings of the American poetic tradition framed by Heidegger tend to lead to reaffirmations of the special relationship between American writing and American grounds. A reading of Oppen through Badiou frees the poetry's discoveries from its national context.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1179/147757010X12658885872378
Uncontrolled keywords: NUMBER; LANGUAGE; POETRY; POLITICS; HEIDEGGER; INDISCERNIBLE; COLLECTIVE; CONVICTION
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PE English philology and language
Divisions: Faculties > Humanities > School of English
Depositing User: Stewart Brownrigg
Date Deposited: 07 Mar 2014 00:05 UTC
Last Modified: 19 Feb 2020 04:05 UTC
Resource URI: https://kar.kent.ac.uk/id/eprint/40575 (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
Herd, David: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-0972-5337
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