PN Review Print and Online Poetry Magazine
Most Read... Rebecca WattsThe Cult of the Noble Amateur
(PN Review 239)
Mark FordLetters And So It Goes
Letters from Young Mr Grace
(aka John Ashbery)

(PN Review 239)
Henry Kingon Toby Martinez de las Rivas
(PN Review 244)
Eavan BolandA Lyric Voice at Bay
(PN Review 121)
Vahni CapildeoOn Judging Prizes, & Reading More than Six Really Good Books
(PN Review 237)
Jamie OsbornIn conversation with Sasha Dugdale
(PN Review 240)
Poems Articles Interviews Reports Reviews Contributors
Monthly Carcanet Books
Gratis Ad 1
Next Issue Kei Miller Sometimes I Consider the Names of Places Kyoo Lee's A Close Up and Marjorie Perloff's response John McAuliffe City of Trees Don Share on Whitman's Bicentenary Jeffrey Wainwright and Jon Glover on Geoffrey Hill's Gnostic

This article is taken from PN Review 126, Volume 25 Number 4, March - April 1999.

Body of Evidence Chris McCully

If you watch footage of a Bernstein, if you watch a Norrington or a Salonen, there's no doubt about it: rhythm is the body. And those of use who have ever clapped, tapped, experimented disastrously with line-dancing, or counted syllables and beats, know also that it don't mean a thing if it ain't got that swing - whatever and wherever that swing is. It follows, as a down- follows an up-beat, that the aim of this essay is to develop some of the points I raised in PNR 121 and 125, and to explore the neurophysiology of rhythmical language. By invoking physiology, I don't mean I wish to write about 'The Body'. I'll leave 'The Body' to the spreading rump of cultural theorists, who seem to find the subject - or is that the Subject? - irresistible, and who see in 'The Body' a locus of bourgeois guilt, a site of post-Freudian repression, and a terrifying capacity for the literary and cultural possibilities of syphilis. I'm afraid I do not need to be told about the possibilities of slow decrepitude or testy delirium. For this writer, the body is a place where it's difficult to pat your head and rub your stomach simultaneously, and which, in conjunction with the informing brain, performs staggering feats of rhythmical co-ordination and re-creation many thousands of times each day. Why should you care? Because as a poem means, it also is; its haeccity is a rhythmic, and it may be a metrical, process. ...


Searching, please wait... animated waiting image