Book Nine: The Necessary Angel, by Wallace Stevens

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Whew!  This book was a challenge.  What I love about Wallace Stevens and so many contemporary writers is that the experience and content of their books/stories/essays/poems coexist and integrate.  Meaning- what I am reading about, I am simultaneously experiencing.

This book is not just words on a page that make you think, or encourage you to learn- these words, this language can and may lead you to the very shift in consciousness that is the subject matter of the book.  There were times that I was reading where I felt completely locked out of any kind of understanding, only to stumble upon a passage that acted as a shaft of light into my mind, and I would soar for a stretch in another world of clarity..  I shifted back and forth- and realize that the very concepts of reality and imagination encourage this binary experience…  I am left wondering how much of life (what we usually might describe as “reality”) is actually our individual perception- filtered through the lens of our “imagination”…?

There is also a great discussion of poetry, and poets–  I share with you an excerpt about the pictorializations of poetry that I loved:

“… these are pictorializations of men, for whom the world exists as a world and for whom life exists as life, the objects of their passions, the objects before which they come and speak, with intense choosing, words that we remember and make our own. Their words have made a world that transcends the world and a life livable in that transcendence. It is a transcendence achieved by means of the minor effects of figurations and the major effects of the poet’s sense of the world and of the motive music of his poems and it is the imaginative dynamism of all these analogies together. Thus poetry becomes and is a transcendent analogue composed of the particulars of reality, created by the poet’s sense of the world, that is to say, his attitude, as he intervenes and interposes the appearances of that sense.” (p 129-130)

And yes, most of the book is written like this- in paragraphs that need to be read over and over again, dissected and reassembled in order to participate in the meaning….  a wonderful activity, and such awesome preparation for reading poetry.  I have also finished my tenth book, poems by Lorine Niedecker (review to come)– and this Stevens book, along with Bachelard’s Poetics of Space and all of my other summer reading have led to a far more rich and deep interaction with Niedecker’s work…..

1 comments on “Book Nine: The Necessary Angel, by Wallace Stevens”

  1. What an accomplishment, meredith! I love that reading this has not only been an experience on the page but also a sort of transience between the page and your real life. Very cool!


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