katiekadue's blog

textual promiscuity

Montaigne seems to be having some fun redefining terms at the beginning of the essay. Temperance is as much a temptress as volupté, seducing the author away from the necessary excesses of study (56, 58); he's hungry not to eat, but to be recognized, or read, or eaten (62, though he quickly corrects his stated appetite); the Protestant criticism of private confession is made to seem perverse, as Montaigne's public confession worms its way, by means of books, into ladies' bedrooms (62). When he finally gets around to "mon theme," which one might assume, given the title, would be the sustained textual analysis of a poem by Virgil, we are thrust into a discussion of "l'action genitale" (62-3).

cannibalistic reading

I probably have "les yeux plus grands que le ventre" but I want to cannibalize everyone's ideas and ask what a self-referential or self-consuming preoccupation ("Je suis moymesmes la matiere de mon livre") and the proto-phenemonological "embodied cognition" Michaela and Cici brought up have to do with Montaigne's writing and also reading practices, with the way he assimilates and (re)produces texts and experience. Is his obsessive digestion and citation/glossing of ancient and contemporary sources cannibalistic, and if it is, is that a problem? How are the theophagy of the Catholic Eucharist and the bibliophagy of pagan texts similar, and how are they different? How are both of these practices similar to and different from the normal eating of food? How is Montaigne offering (or not) his text to us for our consumption, compared to the way Rabelais does?

reciprocity & revolution

As Baker's article discusses, there seems to be more reciprocity, or at least the hope for it, in Labé's poems than in some of the others we've encountered. Love is not a one-way street, with the poet's steadily accumulating desire met only with the beloved's silent refusal. For Labé, loving often follows logically, even grammatically, from being beloved (Sonnet X: "Tant de vertus qui te font être aimé, ... Ne te pourraient aussi bien faire aimer?").  Love is based on equity even when it goes wrong. In Sonnet XXIII the poet, abandoned by a lover who used to heap praise on her, hopes that he suffers "autant que moi."

writing on stones, bodies, and minds

Ronsard seems to conceive (of) and embody the poems in his Amours in two different ways: as organic, living things, and as inorganic, petrified things. Sometimes (as in VI) he is a feminine vessel who gestates and gives birth to his "Amour" or his poem (to what extent do his loves only exist as poems?). But sometimes the poem is framed as written in stone, as in the opening "Vœu," and the poet himself is often turned to rock, or petrified, by Cassandre. How is preservation via a sort of biological reproduction different from preservation in or as inert matter? Does Ronsard privilege one over the other?

atemporality and embodiment

I'm really struck by how static these poems are: their logic seems anagrammic rather than narrative. If we expect love poems to move from "desired object" to "attained object," or "loved object" to "lost object," Scève's shuttle between "Délie" and "l'idée," without giving us much indication of progress in one direction or the other. Unlike sonnets, whose final couplets give at least a formal sense of closure, Scève's dizains aren't end-oriented; they -- like the squared-in emblems -- tend to mirror themselves.

poetic labor, poetic bodies, poetic value

Vickers points out that "mimetic representation" (18) is not what the blasonneurs are going for; they're trying to show off their own virtuosity (and emphasize the production of their own textual body), not represent another body (or part). But what happens when (as others have alluded to) the line between the poet-speaker's body and the woman's body gets blurred -- the "bouche" that the praised body parts make speak is, at least in some sense, the poet's own, and the "soupir" and "larme" are sooner or later revealed to be the poet's, not the woman's. When the poems are construed as referring to the poet (and, perhaps, his own poetic labor), they come to seem like performative utterances: the poem becomes reduced to an emission from the poet's body, a sigh that escapes his mouth rather than a carefully crafted, entirely exterior object.

Good, Natural Bodies

Auerbach says of Rabelais that "pour lui l'homme est bon quand il suit sa nature, de même que la vie naturelle est bonne" (279). But is "natural life" really always good in Pantagruel? Are men always rejoicing in their bodily functions (women certainly aren't!)? And to what extent can we say that activities performed by the body are "natural"? In other words, are bodily functions still "natural" when they're drug-induced (even if the drugs are "natural"), or used for a kind of biological warfare rather than to satisfy a physical need?

Some moments I was thinking of were:

Rabelais' body language