Thursday, March 13, 2008

The Post-Structuralists and "Keeping Things Whole"

Strand, Mark. "Keeping Things Whole." The Norton Introduction to Poetry. Ed. J. Paul Hunter, Allison Booth and Kelly J. Mays. 9th ed. New York: Norton, 2007. 252.

The Post-Structuralists believe that signs are arbitrary and their importance lies in the difference among signs. The ideas of "absence," "missing," and "part[ing]" are abstract and only exist in contrast to a designated sign of a concrete entity such as "field" or "air." The poem seems to be ambiguous because the speaker intends it to be that way. Progressively, the speaker gives more insight to the reader about their ultimate purpose, but the reader's understanding still relies upon the speaker's willingness to state the truth. However, even in the end, the idea of wholeness is left open for interpretation. Full of ambiguities and places where the poem fails to concrete certain understandings, Post-Structuralists would confirm that Strand's "Keeping Things Whole" is just a play of signs and therefore open to many interpretations.

1. What ideas are established through the binaries of existing in place and being absent?

2. Which of the two binaries (from question one) seems to be privileged?

3. How does the privilege on that sign affect the interpretation of the poem?

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