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The Calamity FormOn Poetry and Social Life$
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Anahid Nersessian

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780226701288

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226701455.001.0001

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Parataxis; or, Modern Gardens

Parataxis; or, Modern Gardens

Chapter:
(p.23) 1 Parataxis; or, Modern Gardens
Source:
The Calamity Form
Author(s):

Anahid Nersessian

Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226701455.003.0002

In this chapter, the garden becomes the stage for a series of paratactic readings that set Romantic poets like Friedrich Hölderlin and William Cowper alongside the twentieth-century artist and activist Derek Jarman. After describing the historical connection between parataxis and the Pindaric ode, it looks to Cowper's long poem The Task as an exploration of the unrepresentability of capital and its own Pindaric leap (or, in Marx's words, its salto mortale). The chapter then joins Cowper—via his short lyric, "The Rose"— to Jarman, whose diary entries and poems narrate a world on edge, battered by environmental and epidemiological crises. Following the late Derek Parfitt’s argument against an ethics of continuity between present and future agents or lives, the chapter ends by claiming parataxis as a figure that challenges the kind of presentist thinking that forces the past into a predictive relation with what is to come.

Keywords:   parataxis, Friedrich Hölderlin, William Cowper, Derek Jarman, Pindar, capitalism, climate change, HIV/AIDS

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