Trailer ¾ Eros the Bittersweet PDF by À Anne Carson A Book About Love As Seen By The Ancients, Eros Is Anne Carson S Exploration Of The Concept Of Eros In Both Classical Philosophy And Literature Beginning With It Was Sappho Who First Called Eros Bittersweet No One Who Has Been In Love Disputes Her What Does The Word Mean , Carson Examines Her Subject From Numerous Points Of View And Styles, Transcending The Constraints Of The Scholarly Exercise For An Evocative And Lyrical Meditation In The Tradition Of William Carlos William S Spring And All And William H Gass S On Being Blue Both the experience of desire and the experience of reading have something to teach us about edges We have endeavored to see what that is by consulting ancient literature, lyric and romantic, for its exposition of eros We have watched how archaic poets shape love poems as triangles and how ancient novelists construct novels as a sustained experience of paradox We caught sight of a similar outline, even in Homer, where the phenomenon of reading and writing resurfaces in Bellerophon s story We speculated about writers purposes to seduce readers and we are finally led to suspect that what the reader wants from reading and what the lover wants from love are experiences of very similar design It is a necessarily triangular design, and it embodies a reach for the unknown109 This was my first experience reading Carson, and it was beautiful.
Anne Carson s debut book is certainly an impressive piece of scholarship, which, for this particular reader, made this both a pleasure and a burden to trudge through Summoning her impressive knowledge of Greek drama, prose both philosophic and fictional and poetry, Carson conjures a daring argument about the symbiotic and triangular connections between words on a page, their writer and their reader, with the notion of desire as the Spanish Fly that keeps all the sweaty limbs and soiled sheets intertwined and sticky Organized in a series of short chapters, Carson makes her slow way from the poetic fragments of Sappho to her final destination of a long dissembling of one of Plato s dialogues featuring Socrates schooling a young upstart named Phaedrus on topics such as desire, man and boy love, and writing and all of this the elaborate and belabored groundwork for her argument that serious readers and writers are nothing but a bunch of sex crazed degenerates or something like that As much of a rousing celebration this book is for the love of Literature, too much of her prose is dry and bloated with jargon and rhetoric for this particular, not smart enough reader Don t get the wrong idea, this is definitely a well rounded feast for thought but I look forward to dipping my finger into Glass Irony and God for a taste of her poetry.
There are no words for how perfect this book is A gorgeous exploration of the edges of personhood, letters, desire Endlessly fascinating and utterly engrossing I couldn t put it down I want to fall in love A sample from a favorite passage The English word symbol is the Greek word symbolon which means, in the ancient world, one half of a knucklebone carried as a token of identity to someone who has the other half Together the two halves compose one meaning A metaphor is a species of symbol So is a lover Every hunting, hungering lover is half a knucklebone, wooer of a meaning that is inseparable from its absence The moment when we understand these things when we see what we are projected on a screen of what we could be is invariably a moment of wrench and arrest We love that moment, and we hate it We have to keep going back to it, after all, if we wish to maintain contact with the possible Sappho drew this conception together and called Eros glukupikron bittersweet.
Carson always perches her work in the most precarious positions One wonders what exactly they are holding in their hand is it scholarship A novel An art book A translation A sequel A reimagining Such questions are certainly important, but ultimately feel somewhat beside the point insofar as the response always seems to be a quiet but unapologetic it is, and I found it curious yet unsurprising that Eros, Carson s first published text, is so preoccupied with paradox and in between spaces in general now some thirty years on it s clear that is exactly the place where she has situated her own work Carson seems to implicitly pose every one of her texts as a hypothesis, mere points of departure for exploration and experimentation This approach that has admittedly lead to a somewhat uneven oeuvre, encompassing works as indisputably minor as major.
I sense that there are simplifications and scholarly holes in Eros that those of us not intimately familiar with the Classics or the syntactical construction of ancient Greek which I assume comprises the majority of her readership are not able to spot, so dazzled are we by such a virtuosic yet elegant rhetorical performance But that s exactly what makes Carson so singular If I wanted a scholarly analysis of Sappho, of The Phaedrus, Greek culture, or any other of the countless topics Carson alights upon throughout Eros I m sure I could find one, two, or many carefully researched, argued, and meticulously footnoted But I m also quiet sure that they likely wouldn t be able to help me grasp or begin negotiating this sweetbitter experience of eros in which I currently find myself painfully suspended.
It is arguable, then, from the way they wrote and the tools they used, that ancient readers and writers conceived the Greek alphabet as a system of outlines or edges But let us penetrate beyond the physical procedure of their writing to the activity of mind that informs it It is an activity of symbolization Being a phonetic system, the Greek alphabet is concerned to symbolize not objects in the real world but the very process in which sounds act to construct speech Phonetic script imitates the activity of discourse itself The Greek alphabet revolutionized this imitative function through introduction of its consonant, which is a theoretic element, an abstraction The consonant functions by means of an act of imagination in the mind of the user I am writing this book because that act astounds me It is an act in which the mind reaches out from what is present and actual to something else The fact that eros operates by means of an analogous act of imagination will soon be seen to be the most astounding thing about eros Alphabetic Edge Eros the Bittersweet, pg 60 61 I have to admit, I read this book because oh so literary characters on The L Word dropped the name while flirting And again, I admit, I have also tried to talk about this book while hitting on women Why Because this book, so thick with Carson s immense knowledge of classical literature, is also incredibly romantic To the Greeks, the idea of writing itself was relatively new Instead of telling stories orally a setting that allowed the listener and speaker a closeness with the words, because they shared them at the same time there was this distance When we read, we feel that sharp gap between ourselves and the words on the page Carson draws a parallel between the experience of reading to the experience of longing for a lover a distance between people that is, yes, bittersweet Carson explains this a whole lot better andbeautifully read it, then use it to get dates.
Anne Carson, following Sappho, argues that Eros is a lack, a wound, a gesture toward a wholeness that s only possibility exists in our total self annihilation This sort of also describes my relationship to this book I can only read it as a void, a gaping hole in myself, knowing that I will never make something so perfect.
In one of her chapters Anne Carson writes, Imagine a city where there is no desire Supposing for the moment that the inhabitants of the city continue to eat, drink and procreate in some mechanical way still, their life looks flat They do not theorize or spin tops or speak figuratively Few think to shun pain none give gifts They bury their dead and forget whereA city without desire is, in sum, a city of no imagination Carson s elucidation of this idea that desire is what moves the mind to imagine is beautiful and compelling Through the course of her exploration of eros, Carson offers fascinating cultural details on the ancient Greeks and analyzes small poetry fragments that I ve never read before One of my favorites is from Archilochos who wrote what it feels like to be violated by Eros Such a longing for love, rolling itself up under my heart, poured down much mist over my eyes,filching out of my chest the soft lungs Carson s analysis of this fragment is mind opening for those readers who appreciate close reading She does the same for Sappho, as well as others, but keeps her focus narrowed on the question of why we love to fall in love By the time I was done reading, I became convinced it is because our minds take the deepest joy in the beauty of metaphor of the heart s palpitating excitement over the difference in two unlike things The space between them is the ache of desire Bittersweet indeed.
It s all coming back to me now, why I dislike this kind of theoretical, transhistorical argument grounded in a series of close readings The author appears to believe that she has stumbled upon a deep psychological, even ontological, truth which transcends all context and time, as well as any counter examples This is an enormous claim, and it would take something verging on religious faith to countenance it based on what it presented here My own personal experience is an important counter example, yet I feel sure the author would without hesitation dismiss my ability to access my own subjective experience as quickly as she dismisses Hephaistos and Aristophanes as uncredible witnesses And yet they are making the same type of universal claim Apparently the one thing everyone can agree upon is that a large claim is always better than a small, precise, specific claim Everyone except me The evidence for this kind of thing is never sufficient to support the vastness of the claim being made And yet somehow we are meant to admire it as a kind of performance in itself, and to set aside our doubts and to believe based on the facility of that performance, evidence becoming and old fashioned and largely irrelevant afterthought Aside from everything else, the narcissism of this approach makes me livid Lurking here is also the unargued and by no means self evident premise that is culture In these arguments, culture is a homogenous and monolithic THING, to which we have access via all and each of its productions, rather than a tension of similarity and difference, including its own variants and disputes, which needs muchcare and information to be described accurately In this sense, even the claims about the Greeks are too broad They resemble, too, current simplistic constructions of identity and culture in the form of identity politics in which group trumps all No wonder such facile constructions flourish in the humanities departments of universities their inhabitants have never practiced any other type of thinking It is deeply unfortunate that thinkers such as these have the care of the intellectual development of our young Oh, and let us not forget argument from authority, the appeal to performances past What Freud says may be interesting, and indeed it may even be true, but if true, it is not so because he was the one who said it This book has flashed me back to a career in a set of disciplines that would accept virtually any theory, provided that it was discredited in its original and proper disciplinary home Something is terribly wrong with a community who will accept as valid the formulation, well, Freud said I love literary study, and feel it should be taken seriously And yet I find that those who dismiss it as pseudo scientific, metaphysical woo woo with no real value in any kind of rational or scientific community need not look far for examples of what they mean What I would not give for better allies Special moments in the ridiculousness hall of fame The Iliad Book 3 she mischaracterizes the nature of Aphrodite s threat Either this is deliberate, in an effort to force a piece of evidence that does not fit into her schema, or she has actually come to see it this way because of her presuppositions Either way, the evidence comes after the conclusion, and the author is not to be trusted The Uncertainty Principle at a BASIC level, she does not understand that this principle describes the reality of quantum systems, and not an epistemological problem or the inside of the human mind Being an expert on one thing does not make you an expert on everything.