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Senseless Rocks

Senseless Rocks

Chapter 8 (p.150) Senseless Rocks
Romantic Things
Mary Jacobus
University of Chicago Press

This chapter gazes at rocks through a poetic lens, relating rock to poetry by way of sound. Through Wordsworth’s sounding rocks, a posture of anxious listening is often provoked. Poetry has a certain bodily experience about it, and this aspect of form is gleaned from “Joanna’s Rock,” where the echoes of mountain magnify sounds that form a part of this bodily experience. The static state of rocks, on the other hand, relates a sense of time and motionlessness, a rest. Jean-Luc Nancy’s thoughts on hearing and understanding being semantically linked are also examined in the chapter, where the act of listening is in itself a straining toward understanding, toward a possible meaning. Nancy speaks of sense perception, where musical spacing, recurrence, and resonance are signals of existence of interior subjectivity. All these are notable characteristics of poetry, and so the chapter explores these aspects, and how sound and music relate to one’s receptivity and understanding of poetry.

Keywords:   sounding rocks, Joanna’s Rock, Jean-Luc Nancy, hearing and understanding, sense perception, musical spacing, interior subjectivity

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