Composing a poets’ common

A distinguishing feature of the new generation of Greek poetry, the one I have been calling the “Generation of Left Melancholy,” is its collective work on a poets’ common. Its project of creating, sustaining, and participating in a shared world of practices and registers represents an energetic response of its writers to the prevailing political mood of the 21st century. If the Generation of the 1950s mobilized the communal and that of the 1970s the public, the Generation of the 2000 operates according to the collaborative principle of the common. That is why, to put it phenomenologically, the first generation gathered in salons, the next emerged in bars, and the latest appears in bookstores. This one is not a generation of living rooms and coffee tables, where select few were admitted and seated, but of stacks that stay open to everybody for long hours.

As Andrea Mubi Brighenti’s puts it in the new issue of Critical Inquiry, “the common is a de-essentialized version of the community. It reveals that what matters most is not the fact of community but the issue of community” (“The Public and the Common: Some Approximations of Their Contemporary Articulation,” p. 318).  Rather than existing as a given, the common must be constructed “in the form of an invocation, an appeal, or a summoning of people and forces” (317). But if it is a matter of becoming, not being, then the question becomes, “how do we compose a common?” (322) To whom does it appeal and what forces does it summon? “For it to exist, the common must be a composition of differences that remain different” (324). Such compositions resound out of the bookstore readings that the Generation uses regularly as invocations, which function as polyphonic and intermedial performances of the common. Their atmosphere pulsates with the rhythm of a Deleuzian “difference” which returns while resisting repetition.

An atmospheric, affective composition of a post-Marxist common requires different voices and new measures. “Measures are events, in the sense that common enunciation bears with it the capacity to make things happen” (326).  The search for voices and measures making music common is indeed the explicit topic of a pentatonic conversation among eminent poets of the 2000s published in the latest issue of a literary magazine with a Derridean title and a Phoenician spelling: [φρμκ].

It’s an excellent fit with my blog, whose topic is listening to music and poetry with Pantelis Polychronidis, my “other self.”

January 12, 2016



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