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The Beast in Pain

The Beast in Pain

Abjection and Aggression in Archilochus and William Carlos Williams

Chapter:
(p.27) Chapter One The Beast in Pain
Source:
The Animal Part
Author(s):
Mark Payne
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226650852.003.0002

This chapter looks at assertions of emotional continuity between human beings and other animals, particularly in the areas of aggression and wounding, as they appear in the poetry of William Carlos Williams and the Greek iambic poets whose work he saw as analogous to his own. It looks at aggression as a mode of cathexis to nonhuman animals and the forms of human self-understanding this cathexis enabled. The chapter discusses Wordsworth's argument that in order to write poetry, a poet must gather inert emotion in his tranquil soul, where it is to be contemplated by him. Once this emotion exists in the poet's mind, composition can begin, and it is in the mood created by the revivification of past feeling that his work is carried to its end. The chapter also discusses the link between aggression and exhibitionism in Archilochus, as pointed out by ancient authors.

Keywords:   nonhuman animals, aggression, emotional continuity, cathexis, exhibitionism

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