Animals of North America, Selected Translations, and the Critical Afterword, “Extending Relational Field Theories: a Correlationist Model of Poetics & Translation”



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Recent work in psychoanalytic theory points toward a field of merged subjectivities that exists between patient and doctor, identified as a “relational field .” The term appears in the discourse of quantum field theory as well, in the context of the Machian action principle , which states roughly that “local physical laws are determined by the large-scale structure of the universe. ” Because language—and particularly the language of poetry—exists between the subjective and objective spaces of cognition and objects, I hope to posit a relational field theory of poetics as a model for bridging the gap between two theories: that which focuses on merging subjectivities by investigating the distribution of consciousness (psychoanalytic relational field theory) and that which focuses on merging conceptions of objectivity by investigating the distribution of matter (quantum field theory). As primarily a creative work, this dissertation is an exercise in using poetic language as a form of reasoning that incorporates but is unconstrained by inductive, deductive, and abductive approaches to the construction of meaning; it considers the possibility of a poetic method of inquiry that might operate as an adjunct to the scientific method, helping to fill in gaps in knowledge that cannot be approached through linear or scientific models. Rather than discussing principles of relational field theory and poetry as a method of meaning-making in the context of my own work, the critical afterword will identify these principles in my translations of the poet Tsubouchi Nenten and in the work of poets that represent a range of time-periods, languages, and aesthetics: A.R. Ammons, W.H. Auden, Anne Carson, Emily Dickinson, Lo Kwa Mei-en, Francis Ponge, Ed Roberson, William Carlos Williams, and Walt Whitman. The resistance to specialization in the above survey of poets is intentional: the suggestion of a relational field theory of poetics requires the investigation of linguistic and theoretical rhizomes and tendrils that copopulate creative works across boundaries of time, place, school, theory, or movement. Ultimately, though this dissertation is a collection of creative work, I hope that the critical afterword helps to frame the manuscript in the context of re-coupling the “two cultures” laid out by C.P. Snow, and suggests a format that embraces both scientific observation and analysis as well as poetic processes of engagement with and understanding of the world around us.



Creative writing, Poetry