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This article is taken from PN Review 249, Volume 46 Number 1, September - October 2019.

Microreading / Microwriting Marjorie Perloff
Mere reading, it turns out, prior to any theory, is able to transform critical discourse in a manner that would appear deeply subversive to those who think of the teaching of literature as a substitute for the teaching of theology, ethics, psychology, or intellectual history.
Paul de Man, The Resistance to Theory (24)

Citing this statement by Paul de Man, Kyoo Lee remarks, ‘Such a close reading, not exactly closed, did and does open up a new vista of textual space while spacing itself in the form of a chronotopological intervention as well as invention.’ And then, in her uniquely good-humored way, Kyoo steps back a bit and remarks, ‘My scope, narrower and smaller, however, is almost micro-philopoetic, kind of zen-focused.’

I want here to ruminate further on the ‘micro­philopoetic’ reading practice, which is increasingly my own. No doubt ‘close listening’, as Charles Bernstein called it, is necessary in an age where most reading is merely rote reading, in response to the daily Fake News. We have come a long way from Jean-Francois Lyotard’s suspicion of ‘master narratives’, from the late twentieth-century belief that there are no external, definitive truths that govern our lives and that we must learn to accept the complexity that goes with the inherent indeterminacy and oscillation of language. In 2019, master narratives are once again the order of the day: the New York Times will print the sentence, ‘Donald Trump is a liar’, with the same authority as if the sentence were ‘Donald Trump is 6'1' tall’. One isn’t, ...


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