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What Forms Can DoThe Work of Form in 20th- and 21st- Century French Literature and Thought$
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Patrick Crowley and Shirley Jordan

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781789620658

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781789620658.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM LIVERPOOL SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.liverpool.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Liverpool University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in LSO for personal use.date: 12 June 2021

How to Think Like a Plant?

How to Think Like a Plant?

Ponge, Jaccottet, Guillevic

Chapter:
(p.237) Chapter Fifteen How to Think Like a Plant?
Source:
What Forms Can Do
Author(s):

Emily McLaughlin

Publisher:
Liverpool University Press
DOI:10.3828/liverpool/9781789620658.003.0016

This chapter uses Ponge’s ‘Le Cycle des saisons’ and Jaccottet’s ‘Les Pivoines’ as two useful models for understanding how late-twentieth-century French poets give voice to plant-life. It explores how Ponge’s delight in the dynamics of language and Jaccottet’s wariness of its distractions have come to define two different approaches to the organic world and, more generally, two different strands of the French poetic tradition: Ponge’s linguistically experimental texts approach plants by cultivating the ‘efflorescence’ of language; Jaccottet’s texts use a rhetoric of hesitation to gesture towards plants’ inherent excess or mystery. Whilst these two approaches to the natural world are now familiar models in late-twentieth-century French poetics, this paper examines how the poems of Eugène Guillevic adopt an altogether more radical, weird, and even productive approach to plant-life. Investigating the speculative nature of Guillevic’s poetics, this chapter explores how he is not content simply to question the subject’s perceptions of and access to physical existence, as Ponge and Jaccottet do, but continually speculates about what life might be like for other forms of existence, in particular, plants. This chapter explores how Guillevic’s poetry makes the presences of the physical world seem more alive to us, more worthy of respect and attention, but also makes us more curious and more daring in how we think about our own sentient and cognitive faculties. 

Keywords:   Guillevic, Jaccottet, Ponge, Plants, Animism, Panpsychism, Speculative Realism, Non-human, Post-human

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