Lyn Hejinian—Intention, Selection, and Fantastic Philosophy
Patrick F. Durgin
… the noun must be replaced not by inner balance but by the thing in itself and that will eventually lead to everything.—Gertrude Stein, “Poetry & Grammar”
…the thing itself exercises curiosity…—Lyn Hejinian, “Reason”
…one remembers the necessity of a sacrifice—the ‘practicality’ of a sacrifice―is as definite as―say―the sacrifice of a soldier who undertakes a suicidal mission… Because we cannot exist…without a sense of depth in the past and expectation in the future…—George Oppen, letter to Ethel Schwabacher (1962)
Fate…the accumulation of all that happens.—Lyn Hejinian, “George Oppen and the Space of Appearance”
If it is routine to mark the split in post-war US American poetic camps by means of the claims made in the historicizing of Modernist poetic practice, the above sequence of epigraphs dramatizes a circuit of influence still rich enough to yield fresh insights into the so-called “turn to language in the 1960s.” Stein’s total rejection of the theory of le mot juste can be interpreted, among other ways, as a rejection of the linguistic category, familiar to readers of Roman Jakobson’s signal works, of selection. Any word selected, as such, becomes a kind of “noun” (even and especially verbs), a thing standing in relief against the store of terms negated in that movement, uniquely problematizing the representation of what is contemporary to it. And although the supposed immanence of Stein’s “continuous present” promises “eventually [to] lead to everything,” this everything is not just anything. According to Hejinian, it is the event of leading, of trajectory, that is operative in “the thing itself.” Oppen’s view of the relation of necessity to existence is typical of Objectivism’s adjudication of the latent warrants of radical modernist poetics, c.f. the more gnomic pronouncements of Stein or Ezra Pound. If selection is the obverse of negation, it is a kind of suicide, an utterly disambiguating force clutched to a desire—thankfully impossible to effect—to impeach the present by reference to the past and/or future it is made to represent. This warrant makes Hejinian’s statement legible. If fate exists, it does not exist for us. Our destination remains inaccessible so long as we are destined for it.
“Context is a past with a future,” writes Hejinian, echoing Oppen’s attempt to clarify the sacrificial basis of being atelic—one could say atelic being. But what exists after, what persists and even subsists this sacrifice? Hejinian, in nearly the same breath, insists that history qua context is that feature of experience that “gives us a sense of reason.” We might as well come at the question from the side of the recipient, then, rather than the offering of this gift: from the perspective of us. What is sacrificed when the utterance of “this is happening” becomes the object of experience, when language leads incipience? First to go is “determinate commonality.” Tropes of contiguity—sitting, waiting, drifting, misprision—become figures of critical consciousness, in turn rendering sacrifice a critical mode of intentionality. The motive is, as the intentional fallacy would have it, unavailable, yet it gives onto the momentum of intentionality, the desire to make sense, to confer value. Is this peculiar intention the experience of poiesis in thought? Something like this irreducible ambiguity is what is meant by the literary critical trope “indeterminacy.” And yet the great variety of work studied under this sign can hardly be done justice by it. One reason Hejinian is a crucial poet in this regard is that her sustained scrutiny of fundamental critical rubrics is also a peculiar one, suggesting a practical plurality of indeterminacies, and hence a more accurate hermeneutic vocabulary.
Unfortunately, Hejinian’s 1983 talk/essay “The Rejection of Closure” has become a ubiquitous exemplar of the poetics of indeterminacy. This is unfortunate not because it is impossible to extrapolate from the “open text” a generalized sense of purposive inconclusiveness that is characteristic of certain moments and modes in poetic practice, but because the dialectic between closure and indeterminacy has no fixed motive. Oddly, the essay itself seems to caution against all but the desire for fixed purposes. A specific moment in the essay draws upon Luce Irigaray’s notion of “desire” as that which, were it fulfilled, would resemble a need, something that can and must be fulfilled to maintain oppressive hierarchies. But rather than offering an exegesis of this antecedent (she will critique the scope of Irigaray’s notion later), Hejinian situates it with a subtle distinction between motivation and intention. The “structural devices” that serve to open a text and “relinquish total control” to the participation of readers depend, she argues, “by all means on the intention of the writer.” It is not surprising perhaps that a tautology appears—“by all means” means the devices that form the means of so opening the text, yet the control seems totalized in the decisive apportioning of authority that resides with the poet. But in that very movement, something else occurs. “The writer relinquishes total control and challenges authority as a principle and control as a motive” (italics mine). The device itself appears to issue from both reader and writer, first as what is done and then as what one does with it. The interplay of desire is the only possible motive when, as she claims, “for the moment, for the writer, the poem is a mind.” The “inherent paradox” of the succession of moments described here as a sort of shared thought process has come in for scrutiny, at least on the level of the rhetorical contraptions hoisted in its honor, in the name of indeterminacy as a critical value; Jacob Edmond, for instance, observes the way the open text suffers undue “closures” when one takes for granted the “reader accepting the authority of the claim to reader freedom.” “Completeness” as “perfect openness,” he demonstrates, “turn[s] the open text into a form of closure.” But the question of form remains, of “structural devices” left to their own, which no one seems to, in fact, own. I want to argue that the matter gains traction and specificity, like the term “indeterminacy,” only when openness is returned to intentionality and closure to motive. That openness is motivated is paradoxical but not, as Edmond argues, contradictory. It’s the doxa, the doctrinaire status of “indeterminacy” that troubles Hejinian’s critics. So be it. The para- of the paradox describes the fact that motive and intention move alongside one another; they are distinct but mutually dependent moments of writing (to conceive and to execute the poem). To mark this as contra-, to claim a contradiction, is hypocritical and only arises when motive and intention are thought synonymously, something Hejinian’s take on linguistic desire disallows. The hypo-thetics of the hypocritical slippage here is telling. We would never say hypotaxis and parataxis are synonyms. Neither do they have to be opposites. I would argue, similarly, that the paracritical condition of a poem’s substance, for Hejinian, constitutes what she would later call a “pre-poetics” of criticism that not only relies upon discerning intentionality as the active afterlife of a particular motive but also illustrates a particular kind: critical intention.
Hejinian’s work of a certain period rethinks intention. Like “indeterminacy,” “intention” is a plural category. A practical distinction between “motive” and “intention,” as an initial account of that plurality, illuminates several things. Of immediate interest to me here are the survival and critique of New Critical tenets in contemporary, language-oriented literary discourse; language writing’s unusual circuits of influence running from Stein and the Objectivists through the emergence and reification of intermedia and conceptual writing, art, and performance; and most specifically and crucially, Hejinian’s peculiar approach to the problem of “selection.” Intention’s value resides, for many, in determining the relation of evaluation to interpretation: does a text “succeed” in doing what it set out to do. Indeed, it was evaluation that was at the heart of the New Critical canon now extended to the farthest reaches of our interpretative regimes. The fundamental challenges twentieth century artists and writers put to intention, as a subset of “agency,” mirrored the burgeoning backlash against the liberal humanist tradition, a tradition that girds both William Empson’s “ambiguities” and Wimsatt and Beardsley’s “intentional fallacy.” Hejinian was among the major figures here, and she emerged with a liberating and transvaluative, rather than evaluative, relation to thought I call, using her terms, “fantastic philosophy.” Though I deal with her particular contributions here, they are indicative of a certain orientation to this rethinking of literary purpose and action. Especially in the 1980s and ‘90s, the language of intention becomes interesting again on at least two fronts. Marjorie Perloff’s The Poetics of Indeterminacy and Matei Calinescu’s The Five Faces of Modernity interpret postmodernist ambiguity as high modernist “undecidability,” revising the narrative of “radical modernism” while foreclosing discussions of radical indeterminacy at the interface of procedural and processural poetics, form and content, aesthetic effect and, to cite Louis Zukofsky’s Objectivist manifesto, “predatory intent.” Meanwhile, language writers’ own discussions of their intentions and motives become more visible and even, to some extent, accessible (i.e., university press publications of their “poetics” statements, which continue into the present time). Widening the implications of language acts as far as they did, implicating themselves in a repoliticized “sincerity,” language writers understandably came back to the problem of intention as a revision of what it could mean to mobilize a politics and an ethics in the aftermath of 1968’s various clampdowns on participatory democracy.
In 1985, Line published a selection from Steve McCaffery’s 1976-1977 correspondence with Ron Silliman and Charles Bernstein. In it, Silliman presents “a rough, preliminary definition of the poem” as
p = vr
where “a poem, p, is a vocabulary, v, with a set of rules, r, by which to process it, limited or extended variously by intention(s), i.” Despite the algebraic template, this is not a response to the Deleuzian imperative to “quantify writing.” As Silliman explains, it is qualitative, not quantitative.
the equation makes possible the inclusion of such works as Antin’s talking pieces or the journals of Hannah Weiner in the same universe of the poem as Creeley or Turner Cassity even while separating out work which, while it may possess many of the surface features of a poem, lacks some essential, such as the songs of Bob Dylan or certain magazine advertisements, which lack intention. It is, insofar as is possible in the rough and social domain of language, a pure state. … the very presence of the text or performance indicates, to me, an intention that there be a poem. both procedure & process, as i understand them, are conditions of i. it is not, as i see it, outside the schema.
Mac Low’s work is an index in the ensuing conversation about intention because, as McCaffery is careful to point out vis-à-vis “non-intentional” text generation, “procedure, i say, is vocabulary.” But this, as he says, presupposes that “the whole point in … procedural work” is the self-generation of texts, which are merely summary vocabularies, the only vocabulary available to the reader vis-à-vis “text.” But as they go on to widen the social field of intention as a motivation on the part of an author toward an audience, the original limiting of this field to the intentional as “some essential” merely begs the question the equation sought to mobilize. Silliman’s reduction of the category of intention to motivation thereby not only echoes the New Critical treatment of the problem but carries unnamed qualitative criteria that the New Critics, I imagine, would hardly disagree with—some “essential” lacking in popular mass culture. We can presume, knowing Silliman’s work, that his specific criteria have to do with a critique of capitalism at the level of language acts, but it is not explicitly stated here, nor even integrally implied so much as it is, for instance, in Dylan’s early work itself. The irony here points to the survival of New Critical tenets in this early articulation of language writing’s take on intentionality—reclaiming the “agency” that “i” infers in no way deconstructs Wimsatt and Beardsley’s conception of intention as the (tacitly or patently) expressed motives of not just an author but an authority. The irony is compounded by the fact that the formula is designed to account for the innovations of intermedia artists like Mac Low or Weiner. Moreover, it is Silliman who is so often critically responsible to, not for, the pernicious author-function of the lyric “I.”
Hejinian’s language of intention is more nuanced. Here is the first paragraph of Hejinian’s jacket blurb for Leslie Scalapino’s 1989 collection How Phenomena Appear to Unfold.
Where critics used to debate, as if it were a real thing, a difference between form and content, so now they would separate “theory” from “practice,” and thus divide a poet from his or her own intentions and poetry from its motives. But in fact poetic language might be precisely a thinking about thinking, a form of introspection and inspection within the unarrested momentum of experience, that makes the polarization of theory and practice as irrelevant as that of form and content, mentality and physicality, art and reality.
The separation, by “critics,” of “theory” from “practice” is likely a reference to the tenor of the critical reception of language writing in the 1980s (see Byrd, Davidson and Weinberger, Perelman). Importantly, however, a basic claim is made for intention as belonging to a singular authorial project, intrinsically determined per “poet” as her/his “own” language act. What would a “motive” intrinsic to “poetry” be in this case? One answer might be suggested by Hejinian’s 1991 admission that “[a] major component of my poetics, or let’s say of my poetic impulse, is a result of [the Vietnam] war and the meaning of its never being named.” In her dialogue with Tyrus Miller in 1988, published in Paper Air, Hejinian offers this commonality between her work and that of other language writers: “maybe all of us are working toward an efficacy not of Poetry but of a radically conscious language use of which poetry has historically been exemplary.” So, while she appears to claim that divisions such as I’ll be making between the use of terms like intention and motivation ultimately obscure the values these terms proffer, she simultaneously points to the dialogic work of motivation and intention in the use of self-consciously “literary” exchange. For such a dialogue to be made legible as a politics, intention cannot remain reducible to motivation. After all, policy is sociality motivated to acquire the future it imagines. This forward trajectory, at least, deserves the traditional appellation: avant-garde.
Hejinian goes on to express to Miller a common differential:
As writers we are not, as you point out, like-minded, but I think we are, in certain fundamental senses, like-motivated.
Even to conceive of writing as motivated, as an appropriate medium of intentionality (historical and psychological intentionality)—as a medium of consciousness and a ground for intellectual and emotional effectiveness—is, as far as I can tell, not common to many other American poetries right now, but it is something I have in common with other language poets. And, in a sense, it assumes an element of collectivity as well as a large amount of collaboration.
In what “fundamental” sense does a conception of motivation as a (not the) “medium of intentionality” assume “collaboration”? As in the correspondence with Miller, when Hejinian addresses the “history of my collaborations” in her first entry in the collaboratively-written Leningrad: American Writers in the Soviet Union, she refers to correspondences with Barrett Watten and Silliman, as well as “responses to the war in Vietnam” among other New American contexts.
And I myself, for example, had a fantastic rather than a comprehensive relationship with the works of someone like Velimir Khlebnikov, partially because his work had been only randomly translated and published in the 1970s, but more significantly because I had no Russian context for understanding the scale and intentions (and hence the meaning) of his work.
The fundaments of intention seem to be sited, located, not in a reaction to a meaning (the meaning of its not being named) but in an active making (poesis) of meaning with spatio-temporal loci irreducible to the separation of agent and agency, so that “intention” is irreducible to the authorial “subject” (a lesson proposed on another level by the “psychological and historical” intermediality of collaboration). Logically, Miller’s response to Hejinian’s mention of such issues is to ask Hejinian about “the subjects” of her work, insofar as they “never seem wholly present to their languages, nor does language always have the grounding of a subject’s intention.” The language of Hejinian’s response is telling.
[My work] is not personal in intentions, I don’t write to discover, define, describe, disclose my Self, whatever that is, nor to share my epiphanous experiences of small, intimate, everyday moments. To be honest, I’m scornful of writing that aims at anything like that … But being a person is not at all the same thing as being personal. I think that being a person is a compelling literary problem, because personhood (social, subjective, cognitive) is so closely and diversely bound up with language … It is unclear whether it’s the person or the language that is the agent of the person’s life—but in my poetry it is the language. The words it uses determines, or better discovers, where the “life” (intellectual and emotional) will go and what might be known about it.
“Aims” (motives) are to “life” as “intentions” are to “uses” which “determine”—with this difference, “poetry’s” legislative criterion is “language.” Language “discovers” intention as a “Self” discovers “the ‘life.’” Poetry serves to discover two things: “where the ‘life’…will go and what might be known about it.” “Personal…aims” are subservient to the ongoing vicissitudes of the person’s linguistic construction.
Hejinian seems to work in threes. A recent project, The Fatalist, comprises the third in a trilogy beginning with Slowly and continuing from The Beginner. My focus is the previous triad: beginning in 1986 with The Cell, continuing through the early 90’s with Oxota: A Short Russian Novel and 1994-1997’s A Border Comedy. In this period, related writings such as “The Person,” “The Composition of The Cell,” and several of the essays collected in The Language of Inquiry contextualize a shift in Hejinian’s epistemological concerns. Whereas she describes The Cell as the last book wherein “the consciousness of consciousness was what was at stake” (what might be known), her brief essay “Continuing Against Closure,” published coterminously with A Border Comedy, announces a focus on “sites of consciousness” (where the life will go). It’s notable how the dialogue with Miller foreshadows this move to a cognitive geography, even as it suggests that the synonymy between motivation and intention is misleading. I would argue that we disallow this synonymy altogether by virtue of the development charted in the poems. First, we must account further, beyond that whose conditions Hejinian could to some extent choose, for the context in which this hermeneutic shift took place.
Gertrude Anscombe’s treatise Intention read in tandem with Frank Cioffi’s rebuttal to Wimsatt and Beardsley’s “Intentional Fallacy” suggests that we may think of intention’s seemingly absolute relativity as neither algorithmic purity nor accidental epiphany. Anscombe is “very glad” to be a philosopher and not an ethicist or literary critic, since it is the question of an agent’s “motives” instead of an agent’s “intention” that is the proper one, she claims, for these disciplines. Motives, she explains, “interpret” actions, but they needn’t “determine” or “cause” them. But she misses a crucial implication of a signal she provides from Wittgenstein, of whom she is the primary English translator, namely that the object of an effect (such as fear) needn’t be the cause of it. Cioffi reminds us how malleable this causal “object” or “thing” is—he relativizes the concept of “the text itself” and points to a concept of lyric becoming wherein causation is only an accident of retrospect, a limit case or critical event horizon of the artwork. Literary criticism endeavors to interpret texts (objects of effect), not acts. But revise the object of interpretation and the plot thickens. In fact, we find ourselves in territory more akin to Wolfgang Iser’s work on “indeterminacies” in prose fiction than Perloff’s “poetics of indeterminacy.” According to Iser and most other proponents of reader-response theories of literary meaning, there is something vaguely prophetic in aesthetic experience, since textual production is a shared endeavor of selection. Authors select points of indeterminacy, “sites” of another “consciousness” whose ambiguity will be eliminated by the interpretative estimations or judgments of the reader (i.e., that “other” consciousness). Granted these movements are always more or less motivated, we can call motives estimates of the future, hence projections of the past. Motives hold actions to account, while they hold them at a legislative, juridical, and retrospective distance. Intention might then mean something like the mobilization language writing continued in so many compelling ways, the mobilization of the present “time in the composition,” a Steinian conceit which, properly understood, has no need to “make it new.” Intention is what is happening for us. It is not necessary and probably impossible that motives and intentions will match; time itself will tell. Atelos, not surprisingly the name of Hejinian and Travis Ortiz’s publishing project (and what is publishing but administering a legacy?), is not a deferred imperative stuttering along a chain of non-sequitur. The notion of necessity that grounds the figure of temporal sacrifice (of the past for the future) is transvaluative. Motives are static, they are what’s at stake. Intentionality is the unfolding of acts relative to a field one’s motives vainly fix that time, because of its unstinting, capillary transience, always exceeds. Because the failure is inscribed in the initiation of the literary act, one begins with a sacrificial gesture, a sacrifice of authority. Some do it more self-consciously than others, but it has to be done.
Understanding what is happening for us in light of the above epigraphs demands an account of the “event” in Stein’s eventuality. And as much as Hejinian reminds us, for instance, of Roman Jakobson’s bedrock historicism—that “The history of literature should be written from the standpoint of change, since change is the essence of literature”—we do well to maintain that “change” itself is subject to the connotations history provides. The third work of the series, A Border Comedy, hits upon a compositional method that harnesses the act of reading, describes it, and thereby dooms every punchline to its own inevitability—causality ceases to relieve the tension our comic should so carefully plot.
That’s why I’ve kept this writing of fifteen books unfinished
I move from one to the next
In the course of many days adding every day
A few lines to a book
Each of which takes a long time and considerable thought
And that passage of time facilitates forgetting
Then forgetting makes what’s been written unfamiliar
As if some other writer had been writing
And each of my returns to each of the books is prompted
To immediates in a sudden present
Only pastness, which provides forgetting, can provide it.
So, Stein’s eventuality is operative here, but in a peculiar way.
Of course, senses have objects—everything provides evidence of this
The objects make themselves available and laugh
Suddenly you’re one of them.
Add to this the peculiar take on Oppen’s fatalism, a sort of “future anterior” and hence “an act of redistribution, imitating / nothing, completely original.” And what is happening for us becomes nothing like that index of our desire for those we force to reflect our best intentions. Every mission motivated is a suicide mission.
The comic and the capacity for laughter are situated in the laugher and by no means in the object of his mirth. The man who trips would be the last to laugh at his own fall, unless he happened to be a philosopher, one who had acquired by habit a power of rapid self-division and thus of assisting as a disinterested spectator at the phenomena of his own ego. But such cases are rare.—Charles Baudelaire, “On the Essence of Laughter”
…as Aristotle insists…the poet is preeminently the maker of the plot—the framework, not necessarily of everything that takes place within that framework…The poet does not wish to be a dictator but a loyal co-initiator…—Jackson Mac Low, “Statement 1965,” The Pronouns
The influence of conceptual art, writing and performance on language writing, what Dick Higgins famously referred to as “the intermedial,” is not unsubstantial. An important artist in the shift from the New American Poetry through conceptual art to contemporary conceptual writing is Jackson Mac Low, whose notion of “eventual verse” can be read as a pithy thinking-through of the relationship between intention and selection, hence informative for a reading of the way Hejinian furthers such an inquiry. In the decade beginning in the mid 1980s, Hejinian moves from a concern with the “consciousness of consciousness” to “sites of consciousness.” In the process, selection is redefined as something more akin to election, and these sites become an elective geography rather than a given, inevitable terrain amounting to the interminable fate of that which “exercises curiosity.” Ultimately, election allows intention a motivelessness or immanence, which is radicalized in the temporal register of fate—Hejinian accordingly redefines “fate.”
The intentional continuum Mac Low’s oeuvre establishes provides a limit-case of our interpretive and evaluative categories. Louis Cabri’s account of this continuum from non- to quasi- to “freely” intentional authorship situates the issue’s literary expressions within the context of political action. Of course, such acts are highly motivated, if potentially less egoic: the quasi-intentional Stein poems are littered with such statements as “Never revise her accidentally.” In his later series, which mostly favor quasi-intentional methods, Mac Low combines procedural and processural techniques. This produced an occasion to articulate and revise his original thinking surrounding the problem of intention. In his last major statement of poetics, “A Talk on My Writingways,” he suggests that his “liminally” composed works (such as the Twenties and Forties, as well as the earlier “environmental” Asymmetries) form a sort of conceptual arc directly connecting the oscillation between the non-intentional and “freely-composed” works. Mac Low aptly cites Hume’s theory of the imagination, reduced simply to “compounding, transposing, augmenting, or diminishing the materials afforded us by the senses and experience.” Coincidentally Deleuzian, the point here is to provide a phenomenologically inflected ontology of the work, the latter being elided with the subject as duly constructed, a habit-forming activity! The point of liminal composition is to free the event from predetermined structures. Ensuing at and tracing the borders of a person, the event guarantees: everything fate elects to get in gets in.
Preparing his first major collection, 1971’s Stanzas for Iris Lezak, Mac Low presents his earliest and supposedly non-intentional works as examples of an “eventual” verse form. Not to be confused with gradual, the qualifier eventual refers to a closed form with “events” as the poetic measure. His widely-known chance-operations held the “stanzas” in check according to procedural limits; the performance of the output did not, as with traditional prosodic concepts such as “beat” or “accent,” recommend the “event” as a measure. Having read over 400 pages of “chance-generated stanzaic-acrostic eventual verse” in the Stanzas, the reader comes to the endnote and can hardly fail to concur with the author’s closing points.
In the largest sense, of course, most verse is “eventual” in that a certain number of events of one kind or another (syllables, accented syllables, or “feet” of one kind or another, whether “quantitative,” as in ancient Greek & Latin verse, or accentual-syllabic, as in most traditional English verse, or otherwise) occurs in each line of a poem or in corresponding lines of stanzaic poems in which the number of syllables, feet, &tc., changes from line to line within stanzas. What is distinctive about the verse of the STANZAS & my other chance poems is that events are not primarily phonological. Whether it is proper to call the events “lexical” (negatively lexical in the case of the silences), “syntactical” (in the case of the word-string events), or even (in both cases) “semantic” is a question whose solution I will leave to the linguists & the poeticists.
Here the form/content binary Hejinian refers to above is as irrelevant as possible, with performance being a kind of lyric index. But it is an absolutely relative event—the epistemological categories of evaluation and interpretation are entirely symmetrical in the event of selection. The quantification Deleuze and Guattari call for can be seen in Mac Low’s reply to the “so-called Problem of the Subject”—that it is, in Silliman’s words, “a mere sum of the writing.” Chance operations, so intimately implicated in the development of eventual verse, are summations based on “the only way the one belongs to the multiple: always subtracted,” “subtracting in each instance the value of the constant.” Whether that constant is the “ego,” and whether or not the ethical imperative to avoid the ego is valid, the ramifications for intention and selection are complicit and irreversible, like temporal events themselves.
The period of Hejinian’s work in question includes her most axiomatic statement regarding quantitative approaches to writing, in “Comments for Manuel Brito”: “Quantities are change, not categories … It has been years since I read Hegel, and when I read his work I did so very fantastically. That is, I had reasons for reading Hegel that Hegel would not have anticipated nor approved.” But when she reads Oppen’s sense of polis fantastically, so that one “could say that ‘the thing itself exercises curiosity,’” she qualifies it by admitting the “interpretation may push Oppen’s intended sense, but not, I believe, with a result he would dislike.” Here she reads the continuation of his motivation through the work of her own intention. This is not exactly a “selective” interpretation—“the attempt to describe a dream raises a challenge to selection”—and this challenge, professed years earlier, leads to her own distinction between “lines of causation … [T]he most readily described motivate the events that we dream.” Hence, she performs a reading of her own dreams in articulating her poetics at the historical “poles” of the move—a decade long—from “consciousness” to “sites” thereof.
We shouldn’t discount the influence of the more conceptualist route through the New American Poetry, the “deep image” poetics that made an antithetical use of the relationship between intension—affective predation—and “intention” in the gaudiest sense of satisfying personal motivations. Robert Bly is the most extensive proponent of deep image poetics. As Kevin Bushnell has shown, Bly’s concern with achieving a consciousness of unconsciousness in the reader builds on a methodological impasse situated in the lyric attributes of gestalt imagery which, like Mac Low’s “event,” is, though ultimately prosodic, not primarily phonological.
[T]he reliance on the deep image as a device [is] designed to affect the reader’s unconscious within a medium which necessarily operates on the level of consciousness. There is no way around the gap separating the intelligibility of language and Bly’s desire for a poetry of the unconscious. The deep image attempts to vault this gap, although one has the impression that the attempt often falls short.
If psychoanalysis is correct in basing the machinations of the unconscious on a proto-structuralist concept of language, Bly’s images function as props, where Hejinian’s function rather as propositions. In electing a percept as a prompt for writing, they become what we might call negative deep images. Hejinian’s turn from metaphor to metonymy coincides with this negativity—it is a rejection of the universality of the deep image and the humanist imperatives of the unconscious as determinate yet sumptuously obscure agent of the events of experience: “I have no experience of being except in position.”
Despite that The Cell, a series of 150 short lyric poems, “at every point start[s] … with the smallest percept,” it is not incongruous that the vaunted and routinely abstract genre of elegy lies at its heart. Elegy serves as a generic obverse of the third in this trio of works, A Border Comedy. Moreover, from a position of consciousness, there is no access to fate. And so it is not surprising to find the elegy foreshadowed by the final sentence of the first book’s opening poem: “It is not imperfect to / have died”. If death is not the imperfection with which we index fate, it is not a perfect image of negativity, that which the confluence of purposiveness and arbitration we know as the unconscious may be. Instead, this negativity is thematized as selection in Hejinian’s work of the period:
into language – to double fate
This is society, not science
Where are your polarities, your
You see here
Moon in rippled
The efflorescing (“rippled” and “wobbling”) contiguity (“neighborhood”) involves the self-same demarcation of the “stream” (“within rain”). Combining her rendition of surrealism with Zukofsky’s Objectivism, Niedecker conceives poetry as building “folktales of the mind…creating our own remembering…the Self association of nervous vocables coloured by the rhythm of the moment.”. Likewise, when Hejinian posits, “it is not surrealism to compare apples to oranges,” in a list of language writing’s formative tenets, even with the caveat that “none [are] primary in relation to the others,” it is to emphasize that the image as inference does not leave the thing itself (this orange, this apple) in a state, in Zukofsky’s words, of “rested totality.” Rather than imposing, inference proposes. And while Niedecker’s lyric address dismantles the formal, haiku-like hermetics of the second stanza of “You see here,” the cited but unattributed (copied and identical) imperative to “Except as / and unless” suggests that selection goes both ways—it augments the composition while it deletes the potential of the terms selected out of the composition. The immanence of Niedecker’s image invalidates the metaphorical logic of substitution, “as” and “unless.” This is the very immanence that represents a kind of spontaneous assent to the negativity subsequently celebrated in The Cell:
The separate, profiled bulb
Broad sun, it is the
I don’t know of cells
One cannot select everything that is the case, adapting Wittgenstein’s famous phrase about “worldwide” reference. In the first passage, we have the routine definite article describing plenitude and immanence. But the “power of uncertainty” then becomes, in the second, simple omission of any article. Or maybe we should say elision instead of omission, since selection tacitly omits other possibilities and thus feigns certainty: decides. “[F]ull world” is exactly that which cannot be quantified, even indefinitely—a full world seems poorly suited, even nonsensical, in the sparse and immanently imperative texture of the second stanza. The key terms here are “document,” “head,” and “know[ledge].” The negative image of a world is done “without” so that one decides to know no part beyond “full world” as universal constituency: “cells” as epistemological singularities. The decision is to elect the entirety, not to favor any part.
The difference disallows the work of negation in the causal circuit Roman Jakobson devises along phonological lines. “Poetic language,” writes Jakobson, “reveals two effective causes in sound texture—the selection and constellation of phonemes and their components…The poetic function projects the principle of equivalence from the axis of selection into the axis of combination.” Election, instead, invests lyricality with both a poetic and a metalingual function. Poet-critic Lytle Shaw has memorably argued that generic and/or selective “coexistence” might “open spaces for thought” through the deleterious work of Jakobsonian poetics. He makes the point, in fact, with reference to Hejinian’s use of fairy tale and picaresque structures (in The Traveler and the Hill and the Hill). Such generic structures do retain transvaluative functions, and Shaw’s reading of the increasingly allusive and citational qualities of Hejinian’s poetry is important and illuminating. However, I believe a larger sense of coexistence warrants the terminological distinctions of motive from intention, and selection from election, a sense that suggests the poetics of indeterminacy have, in fact, roots in rather more domestic sites of consciousness. Ralph Waldo Emerson: “When we speak of nature…we mean the integrity of impression made by manifold natural objects. It is this which distinguishes the stick of timber of the wood-cutter, from the tree of the poet.” Note the epistemological mischievousness of Hejinian as she ventures into Emerson’s pastoral territory, importing the gothic sensibility of Baudelaire:
The real appears before us every second
But to be recognized
by a nice green tree is inefficient
So I correct myself
making constant adjustments
Perfect life, if only this one and that one
are real—then the world is relevant
as the medium of recognition
What no one knows is that I’ve inserted razor blades into the fingertips of my gloves
I don’t even know it myself
Not everything is known
For example, suppose I drop a stone
Then I hit the surface I’ve scored with a paddle
Blood fills the shallow incisions
The message becomes legible
And the pleasure of seeing intentionality everywhere is incredible
It makes everything in the universe mental.
III. Fantastic Philosophy
Good and bad are only the products of an active and temporary selection which must be renewed.—Deleuze & Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus
It’s the principle of connection not that of causality which saves us from a bad infinity—Lyn Hejinian, Oxota: A Short Russian Novel
If negative deep images distinguish between the motivated caprice of intention and motivation itself, Hejinian’s work of this period can be read as a test of reciprocity between agency and its world. But as a test of poetry, it will also entail a methodological difference for critical reading practices: a hermeneutics, what Hejinian calls a “pre-poetics.” In more than one sense, this difference is embodied in a play on genre: the novel-cum-sonnet in Oxota, the intermedial fable in A Border Comedy, and the tabular form of “The Composition of The Cell,” to name only the most obvious instances. As a “pre-poetics” of criticism, Hejinian’s work of this period clarifies the limits, the “reason” (presumably something more than purpose, aim, or motive), and the stakes involved in potentially any critical enterprise.
In what sounds like an echo of Niedecker’s notion of “folktales of the mind,” Hejinian has been heard to say, “poets have a fantastic relationship to philosophy.” I heard her say so in a discussion of Oppen’s relationship to the writings of Heidegger and Hegel. In response to my query regarding this “fantastic relationship,” Hejinian had this to say:
[T]he relationship of foreground to background differs for the poet and the philosopher. Fantasy worlds…are almost entirely lacking in background. All the essential elements (and fantasies contain only essential elements) are in the foreground… Poets (or, to be specific, I) build fantasy worlds out of the materials of philosophy…whereas philosophical arguments proceed from cause to effect, cause to effect, in a chain, all of whose links except the most recent are in the background, poetry consists solely either of causes or effects, each of which remains in the foreground. Nothing is prior to anything else.
At the time, I took this definition of “fantasy” to be synonymous with her definition of “pre-poetics.” In turn, an equation is made with “reason” as an ethical “dillema”; in her prefatory note to “Reason” added for its reprint in The Language of Inquiry, the eponymous term comes in for dual duty, as “both method and…object” hence also “philosophy’s fundamental concern.” From a methodological perspective, a play on the polysemous “object” (as motive and contiguous extant or “world”) illustrates how, in Hejinian’s poetics of indeterminacy, a determinant is required—a pre-poetics—to set things adrift. The discovery and identification of “determining principles or events” is of secondary interest to how the ethos of “determining”—its rendering this causal triad “final”—marks the determining “current,” “how reason reasons its reasons—how it discovers, identifies, and acts on them.” The guiding principle of these distinctions, supposedly crucial to the bearing of poetics on ethical dilemmas, in Hejinian’s words are “both perfect and efficient, or proximate,” as well as final causation: a triad of axiomatic categories in the disciplinary context she clearly wishes to evoke. But to move from the question of what is there to serve as a dilemma, we should read “reason reasons its reasons” as first and second method (discovery and identification), third being at last the object of effect. Pre-poetics is procreative, it seems, a stream of consciousness where ethics and authority generate an ethos of critos.
An indeterminacy is explicitly proposed by Hejinian’s development of these tenets in her reading of Oppen and Hannah Arendt, deriving from the latter the axiom: “Authority over being is thus dispersed, not because of boundlessness but in the boundlessness.” This is why indeterminacy as such is bound to critical action (intention) in proportion to its ongoing distance from its originary purpose and telos (motive). The relationship is entropic, not static. As it reads in the essay itself, there is a logical slippage of the relative values of motive and intention. And it will be decisive, thus “fantastic.” The dilemma of “reason” is mediated by what in dreams is prone to description. But again, the language exhibits agency, exerts itself; dream or fantasy constitutes a situation in which efficient cause and final cause “are completely unconnected.” The connection is displaced onto the latter when Hejinian defines it doubly as “reason to…or telos.” The definition encompasses both motive and result, insofar as the “necessary” condition of pre-poetics marks a destination as a result of having arrived rather than predation or design. When Hejinian writes, “there are situations in which the two lines of causation are completely unconnected, of which the most readily described motivate the events that we dream,” “motivate” becomes a third term between motive and intention. She means intention but wants to complicate it and so won’t equate intention with efficient cause. Still, its ethical thrust issues from the affirmation of that very efficiency. What happens for us is a reciprocal cascade of effects that create themselves as objects by virtue of their self-same inference. Fantasy, as her initial anecdote describes, is a chance convergence of sites of consciousness—dream and waking reality—each necessary to the other.
Concerned by Hejinian’s use of the term “fantasy” in such close proximity to work she figures as ethical, not to mention the vast measure or even master narrative insinuated by the notion of toying with “worlds,” I suggested that this would make poetry the fantasy life of philosophy. She replied, “I might say that philosophy is the fantasy life of poetry. I think poetry can (though few poets care to attempt this) do philosophy in the Wittgensteinian sense.” Our correspondence has since turned up as source material for The Fatalist (compare the passage above to the stanza comprising page 67 of that book). When I initially found it there, the plotted unfolding of our conversation replaced by oddly appropriate puns—appropriation is a resounding of etiological and teleological scripting effects as a matter of theme. In fact, the distinction made between poetic and philosophical modes of argumentation amply describes the act of reading the sustained ruminations which inhabit all of Hejinian’s poems; there is no back story or plot. Yet the distinction, insofar as it is discussed in addition to being demonstrated in the poems, disassembles the extreme disciplinary duality described above (poetry vs. philosophy). A border condition defines the limit-case of either discipline. The a priori condition is, however, not the border itself, but “fantasy.” As she elaborates in The Fatalist, the fantastic is where “every element / is answerable to every other element”; fantasy subtends the temporal vehicle of intention (or event) and the “reason” (agential immanence) of election, where the real of thought becomes the ready world to which any poem will be considered accurate, or not (an ethos of critos).
In Oxota, the writing is preoccupied with, as Hejinian says in “Continuing Against Closure,” “the middle…a zone of alteration, transmutation, a zone of forced forgetting…languages clash, where currency changes value and value changes currency.” The border, especially between languages, forms the transvaluative “zone,” which is the central conceit of the book:
Sergei asked about nigger music
You mean, I said—Black
And I see you’re pink, he raged then—yes, is that your
color?—and maybe yellow too—it disgusts me—it’s
like chicken fat
He was pleased with that
Sergei says you’re a racist, Mitya told me later—he heard you
calling niggers black
As Faulkner says—it’s a literary word, respectful, yes?
After all, between languages “Aretha Franklin is a man of the people.” No exclusively “literary” value will save the stranger to a language. (“A comedian is a foreigner at border,” announces “Book Six” of A Border Comedy.) Such miscommunications season the metonymic ruminations of Oxota, often characterized by delay or temporal myopia:
We paused on the Palace Embankment
There are always monstrous prepositions, colors, murky
juxtapositions, and flux more vast than distractions, more
lasting than the past, in the Neva.
“I float forever in my paper boat…Description of it is a form of waiting.” To sit and wait is a common activity of border crossings. In Oxota, the sites of consciousness are “between the breasts,” “between profiles,” “between housing blocks,” even “between our legs.” Meanwhile, “Waiting depends on the thickness of thought” and “Patience is passion.” Borders introduce temporal discontinuity, but “there is only reality”—and “its author must sit on it,” the “current” is “where I waited,” rendering “discontinuity…self-contained.” Such divided continuities, or “self-contained” discontinuities do not constitute an irreducible ambiguity so much as a good infinity, rendering the “negative” work of the images less deleterious than elective, exercising the curiosity the reader performs.
This brings the sexual question—broached in terms of Hejinian and Miller’s discussion of personhood and gender—into the question of an elective geography. A Border Comedy is replete with sex toys and truly kinky thinking. In fantasies, there are “only essential elements,” only intention. Citing Bataille’s linking of where “poetry leads” as a sexual “fusion,” Hejinian tells Miller, “I can also regard poetry as highly eroticized, in all its relationships, especially with regard to power…[A]t the moment women are capable of creating an entirely new opportunity for exploring the erotic, including uses of power (withholding power, deferring power, letting power slip away),” calling poetry an “appropriate locus” or “logical site for the moebius-stripping of male-female distinctions.” A Border Comedy links the comic to “Putting what’s known into what’s told in a tale that seeks its pole.” The phallic pun on “pole” recalls the “nice green tree” upon which the narrator of A Border Comedy’s blood was earlier spilt:
People meet and they don’t like each other, they fight, they devour each [other
Their happiness erupting in amor fati
For they are fated, and the fated love
To celebrate the fate they can never entirely receive
Of course not
Fate is never entirely given
Sure, a person passes on the street and then turns—coils, even
Right on top
The novelist proclaims the person in love, the philosopher foolish
It’s as Nietzsche says
A married philosopher belongs in a comedy
Fate is funny.
Studded with “informative fables” and other fragmentary interludes, the book is however no more fantastic than when sexual, philosophical, and literary fantasies meld, invariably in moments when identities shift in blatant disregard of distinctions between animate and inanimate. Personification of phenomenological states is the text’s pervasive effect:
There is an intrinsic connection between the meaning of this and where you find it
But the concert was about to begin, leaving only a moment for [conversation
Singer: In the sound?
Sound: Yes, then sense follows
Author (unable to restrain itself): There’s far more to this than sound
Aphorism: In the sound of a word are many logics of one kind combined, [but in the move from that word to the next are logics of many kinds
Comic: Aphorisms are as catchy as cans (pause for line break) / can be [cornered
According to culture’s canny (pause) accountants (laughter comes through [line break) an opinion is compressed
Into a perception.
When Jakobson’s axis of selection collapses: slapstick. The canny extension seeps from the motivation of signs, formal-cum-lexical signs such as the “line / break” make us giddy with elective offerings from intention’s real-time event. The “conversation” is “intrinsic” to the “concert.” This send up of the integrity of the real suggests that perhaps “curiosity” will “eventually lead to everything.” If so, Hejinian’s work of this period becomes an object lesson in a much needed “pre-poetics” of criticism.
 Barrett Watten, “The Turn to Language and the 1960s,” Critical Inquiry 29, no. 1 (Fall 2002).
 Lyn Hejinian, The Language of Inquiry (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2002), 347.
 Ibid., 43.
 This critique is conspicuously culled from the excerpt of “The Rejection of Closure” that appears in Norton’s anthology of feminist theory and criticism (Gilbert and Gubar, 2007), an instance of editorial motive trumping authorial intention, dovetailing with the ubiquity of “the open text” standing for “indeterminacy” as a critical value.
 Ibid., 44.
 Jacob Edmon, “The Closures of the Open Text: Lyn Hejinian’s ‘Paradise Found,’” Contemporary Literature 50, no. 2 (2009): 244.
 Ibid., 245.
 Jennifer Ashton’s recent work has critiqued the literary-historical use of the term in part because “indeterminacy” as a set of features modulates the structure of thought that constitutes history per se. The literary features of openness Perloff claims are, to Ashton, impertinent to positivist excesses in modernists such as Stein and Laura Riding-Jackson. Language writing, she argues, unwittingly extended both these excesses and the reactionary correctives of the New Criticism, leaving us to “get over it”; it may be that she and her primary precedent, art critic Michael Fried, mistake the motive of radical modernism for a desire to render meaning “literal.” It may be that without a practical plurality of indeterminacies, a useful rapprochement is beyond the scope of the debate. For reasons of both space and relevance, I must defer this discussion for now. It may mean that we need a temporal relation to the names of history evoked in the very moment in Stein that stands for Ashton as a form of ultimate closure, perfect referentiality, caressing the noun. That is, to cite Jacques Rancière, literary history itself would need to take on “the production of the hidden…a poetic operation” acknowledging the absence of agents in the very agency of the “words” left to posterity, “an absence that literature, according to the use of its powers, exposes or dissimulates.” Jennifer Ashton, From Modernism to Postmodernism: American Poetry and Theory in the Twentieth Century (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), 1-11, 176. Jacques Rancière, The Names of History: on the Poetics of Knowledge, trans. Hassan Melehy (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1994), 52.
 Steve McCaffery, Ron Silliman, and Charles Bernstein, “Correspondence: May 1976 December 1977.” Line 5 (1985): 60.
 Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia, trans. Brian Massumi (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1987), 4, 88.
 McCaffery et. al. 60, 62.
 Ibid., 63
 Silliman’s critique of literary transparency links the “dream of an art with no medium” to “the commodity fetish,” a link first exposed and fledglingly overcome by “novelists of serious intent,” such as Stein. It is in this literary-historical tradition, he argues, that poetry becomes, “the philosophy of practice in language,” to paraphrase Marx’s famous pronouncement, with which he concludes his remarks, drawing the poetry of the present from the future. Ron Silliman, “Disappearance of the Word, Appearance of the World,” The New Sentence (New York: Roof Books, 1987), 14, 17-18.
 Leslie Scalapino, How Phenomena Appear to Unfold (Elmwood: Potes & Poets, 1989).
 Hejinian, The Language of Inquiry, 188.
 Lyn Hejinian and Tyrus Miller, “An Exchange of Letters.” Paper Air 4, no. 2 (1989): 34.
 Michael Davidson, Lyn Hejinian, Ron Silliman, and Barrett Watten, Leningrad: American Writers in the Soviet Union (San Francisco: Mercury House, 1991), 2-3.
 Hejinian and Miller, 34.
 Hejinian and Miller, 35.
 Anscombe, G. E. M. Anscombe, Intention (Cambridge: Harvard UP, 2000),19.
 Ibid., 16.
 Charles Bernstein, “Professing Stein / Stein Professing,” A Poetics (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1992).
 Lyn Hejinian, A Border Comedy (New York: Granary, 2001), 33.
 Ibid., 151.
 Ibid., 58.
 Lyn Hejinian, The Fatalist (Richmond, CA: Omnidawn, 2003), 59.
 Charles Altieri evokes Mac Low’s “formal and aleatory models of invention which make structure the creative ground rather than the result of immediate poetic thinking” as squarely within the “objectivist tradition,” in which he later reads Hejinian’s The Cell. For Altieri, Hejinian’s poem dramatizes “psychological processes” as linguistic ones, or at least structured as linguistic ones: “the personal has to surrender dominance: it consists only in what becomes exhibited as and through one’s concepts.” I try to flesh out Mac Low’s “models of invention” here to substantiate the psychological models of intention that, in part, may underpin this tradition. Readers interested in the relationship of Mac Low’s poetics to conceptual art and contemporary conceptual writing should read Liz Kotz’s comparative reading of his and John Ashbery’s “Poetics of Chance and Collage.” Charles Altieri, “The Objectivist Tradition” and “Transformations of Objectivism,” The Objectivist Nexus: Essays in Cultural Poetics, eds. Rachel Blau DuPlessis and Peter Quartermain (Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 1999), 33, 306-7. Liz Kotz, Language to Be Looked At (Cambridge: M.I.T. Press, 2007).
 Jackson Mac Low, “He Cannot Have Been Pleased Today to Hear That,” Kenning 7 (2000):15-18.
 David Hume, An Inquiry Concerning Human Understanding, ed. Tom L. Beauchamp (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999), 97.
 Jackson Mac Low, Stanzas for Iris Lezak (New York: Something Else Press, 1972), 424.
 Ron Silliman, “While Some Are Being Flies, Others Are Having Examples,” Paper Air 2, no 3: 40.
 Deleuze and Guattari, 6, 99.
 Hejinian, Language of Inquiry, 182-3.
 Ibid., 350.
 Ibid., 139, 341.
 Kevin Bushnell, “Leaping into the Unknown: The Poetics of Robert Bly’s Deep Image,” Modern American Poetry, accessed March 15, 2003, http://www.english.uiuc.edu/maps/poets/a_f/bly/bushell.html.
 In a brilliant reading of the ethical preoccupations of The Cell published in the meantime between conceiving and publishing the present essay, G. Matthew Jenkins views the “negative totality” of “the cell turned inside out” as a model of ethics according to Emmanual Levinas’ philosophy of turning toward or facing the Other. I read his very impressive work as a necessary supplement to my own notion adjoining the question of openness/closure, intentionality/motivation, and the continuum of imagery between the poles of metonymy and metaphor. As he puts it, “Hejinian attempts a metonymy of the infinite, even as she is invoking notions of totality.” Jenkins, G. Matthew Jenkins, Poetic Obligation: Ethics in Experimental American Poetry after 1945 (Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 2008), 184, 193.
 Hejinian, The Language of Inquiry, 202.
 Hejinian, interview by Charles Bernstein, LINEbreak, 1996, http://writing.upenn.edu/pennsound/x/LINEbreak.html.
 Lyn Hejinian, The Cell (Los Angeles: Sun and Moon, 1992), 92-3, 7.
 Lyn Hejinian, “The Person,” The Cold of Poetry (Los Angeles: Sun and Moon, 1994), 177.
 Hejinian, The Cell, 119.
 Ibid., 159.
 Lyn Hejinian, Oxota: A Short Russian Novel (Great Barrington, MA: The Figures, 1991), 20, 71, 74.
 Lorine Niedecker, Collected Works, ed. Jenny Penberthy (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002), 228.
 Lorine Niedecker, “Letter to Mary Hoard / Local Letters,” Lorine Niedecker: Woman and Poet, ed. Jenny Penberthy (Orono: National Poetry Foundation, 1996), 87-88.
 The Language of Inquiry, 322-3.
 Joshua Clover suggests we attribute this imperative to William James, also a primary source for Hejinian’s thought throughout this period. In any event, the decision to foreground the absence of the source is what’s crucial here, allowing us to read the entire poem and the notion of inference as “the meaning of its never being named.” Joshua Clover, “Reply to Patrick Durgin: The New Phrase,” Circulars, http://www.arras.net/circulars/archives/000160.html#000160.
 Hejinian, The Cell, 60.
 Ibid., 178.
 Roman Jakobson, Language in Literature, eds. Krystyna Pomorska and Stephen Rudy (Cambridge, MA: Belknap University Press, 1987), 71.
 The breath-based poetics of Charles Olson, whose legacy, in my estimation, lives on in Bly’s work more than any practitioner of language writing, is an important point of contrast here. Olson’s “corollary, that right form, in any given poem, is the only and exclusively possible extension of content under hand” transforms a usefully ambiguous dictum into a question of right, which, not incidentally, presumes that the difference between motive and intention is only a question of degree. Although it is certain language poets and not Black Mountain poets who are routinely affiliated with Russian Formalist and Prague School literary and linguistic theories, in the contrast between the phonological and visual, Jakobsonian poetics seem more pertinent to “Projective Verse” than “The Rejection of Closure.”
 Lytle Shaw, “An Open Letter: Jackobson’s Metalanguage,” Notes to Poetry: 49, November, 2001, http://www.arras.net/.
 Ralph Waldo Emerson, Emerson’s Prose and Poetry, ed. Joel Porte and Saundra Morris (New York: Norton, 2001), 28.
 Hejinian, “The Person,” 168.
 Hejinian, A Border Comedy, 170.
 Hejinian, The Language of Inquiry, 340.
 Hejinian, letter to author, January 22, 2002.
 Hejinian, The Language of Inquiry, 337.
 Ibid., 352.
 Ibid., 340-1.
 Hejinian, letter to the author.
 Hejinian, The Fatalist, 67.
 Lyn Hejinian, “Continuing Against Closure,” Jacket 14 (2001), accessed March 15, 2003, http://jacketmagazine.com/14/hejinian.html.
 Hejinian, Oxota, 34.
 Ibid., 143, italics mine.
 Ibid., 147.
 Ibid., 73.
 Ibid., 14, 97, 122, 126.
 Ibid., 154, 200.
 Ibid., 26, 187, 150, 204.
 Hejinian and Miller, 39.
 Hejinian, A Border Comedy, 35-6.
 Ibid., 194.
 Ibid., 74.
Altieri, Charles. “The Objectivist Tradition” and “Transformations of Objectivism.” The Objectivist Nexus: Essays in Cultural Poetics. ed. Rachel Blau DuPlessis and Peter Quartermain. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 1999: 25-36, 301-317.
Anscombe, G. E. M. Intention. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 2000.
Ashton, Jennifer. From Modernism to Postmodernism: American Poetry and Theory in the Twentieth Century. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005.
Baudelaire, Charles. “On The Essence of Laughter.” The Painter of Modern Life and Other Essays. trans. and ed. Jonathan Mayne. London: Phaidon, 1964; rpt. 1995.
Bernstein, Charles. “Professing Stein / Stein Professing.” A Poetics. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1992: 142-149.
Bushnell, Kevin. “Leaping into the Unknown: The Poetics of Robert Bly’s Deep Image.” Modern American Poetry. Accessed March 15, 2003. http://www.english.uiuc.edu/maps/poets/a_f/bly/bushell.html.
Byrd, Don. “Language Poetry, 1971-1986.” Sulfur 20 (1987): 149-157.
Cabri, Louis. “Rebus Effort Remove Government: Jackson Mac Low, Why?/Resistance, Anarcho-Pacifism.” Crayon 1 (1997): 45-68.
Calinescu, Matei. The Five Faces of Modernity. Durham: Duke UP, 1987.
Cioffi, Frank. “Intention and Interpretation in Criticism.” Philosophy Looks at the Arts. ed. Joseph Margolis. Philadelphia: Temple UP, 1987: 381-399.
Clover, Joshua. “Reply to Patrick Durgin: The New Phrase.” Circulars http://www.arras.net/circulars/archives/000160.html#000160.
Davidson, Michael and Eliot Weinberger. “Davidson and Weinberger on Language Poetry.” Sulfur 22 (1988): 117-202.
Davidson, Michael, Lyn Hejinian, Ron Silliman, and Barrett Watten. Leningrad: American Writers in the Soviet Union. San Francisco: Mercury House, 1991.
Deleuze, Gilles. Empiricism and Subjectivity: Hume’s Theory of Human Nature. trans. Constantin Boundas. New York: Columbia UP, 2001.
Deleuze, Gilles and Félix Guattari. A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia. trans. Brian Massumi. Minneapolis: U Minnesota P, 1987.
Derrida, Jacques. Of Grammatology. trans. Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 1976.
Edmon, Jacob. “The Closures of the Open Text: Lyn Hejinian’s ‘Paradise Found.’” Contemporary Literature 50.2 (2009): 240-272.
Emerson, Ralph Waldo. Emerson’s Prose and Poetry. ed. Joel Porte and Saundra Morris. New York: Norton, 2001.
Empson, William. Seven Types of Ambiguity. New York: New Directions, 1966.
Gilbert, Sandra and Susan Gubar ed. Feminist Literary Theory and Criticism: A Norton Reader. New York: Norton, 2007.
Hejinian, Lyn. A Border Comedy. New York: Granary, 2001.
—. The Cell. Los Angeles: Sun and Moon, 1992.
—. “The Composition of the Cell.” The Cold of Poetry. Los Angeles: Sun and Moon, 1994. 111-124.
—. “Continuing Against Closure.” Jacket 14 (2001). 15 March 2003 http://jacketmagazine.com/14/hejinian.html.
—. The Fatalist. Richmond, CA: Omnidawn, 2003.
—. “George Oppen and the Space of Appearance.” George Oppen and Poets After Panel. Modernist Studies Association Conference. University of Wisconsin, Madison. 2 Nov. 2002.
—. Oxota: A Short Russian Novel. Great Barrington, MA: The Figures, 1991.
—. “The Person.” The Cold of Poetry. Los Angeles: Sun and Moon, 1994. 143-181.
—. Interview by Charles Bernstein. LINEbreak. 1996. http://writing.upenn.edu/pennsound/x/LINEbreak.html.
—. Letter to the author. 22 Jan. 2002.
Hejinian, Lyn and Tyrus Miller. “An Exchange of Letters.” Paper Air 4.2 (1989): 33-40.
Higgins, Dick. “Synaesthesia and Intersences: Intermedia.” UBU Web. 3 March 2003 http://www.ubu.com/papers/higgins_intermedia.html.
Hume, David. An Inquiry Concerning Human Understanding. Ed. Tom L. Beauchamp. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1999.
Iser, Wolfgang. The Act of Reading: A Theory of Aesthetic Response. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1978.
Jakobson, Roman. Language in Literature. Eds. Krystyna Pomorska and Stephen Rudy. Cabridge: Belknap UP, 1987.
Jenkins, G. Matthew. Poetic Obligation: Ethics in Experimental American Poetry after 1945. Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 2008.
Kotz, Liz. Language to Be Looked At. Cambridge, MA: M.I.T. Press, 2007.
Mac Low, Jackson. “He Cannot Have Been Pleased Today to Hear That.” Kenning 7 (2000): 15-18.
—. Stanzas for Iris Lezak. New York: Something Else, 1972.
—. “A Talk on My Writingways.” Unpublished talk, 2000.
—. Personal interview. 14 April 2001.
McCaffery, Steve, Ron Silliman and Charles Bernstein. “Correspondence: May 1976 December 1977.” Line 5 (1985): 59-89.
Niedecker, Lorine. Collected Works. Ed. Jenny Penberthy. Berkeley: U California P, 2002.
—. “Letter to Mary Hoard / Local Letters.” Lorine Niedecker: Woman and Poet. Ed.
Jenny Penberthy. Orono: National Poetry Foundation, 1996. 87-88.
Oppen, George. The Selected Letters of George Oppen. Ed. Rachel Blau Duplessis. Durham: Duke UP, 1990.
—. Interview. Contemporary Literature 10 (1969) By L. S. Dembo 159-177.
Perelman, Bob. The Marginalization of Poetry: Language Writing and Literary History. Princeton: Princeton UP, 1996.
Perloff, Marjorie. Radical Artifice: Writing Poetry in the Age of Media. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1991.
—. The Poetics of Indeterminacy: From Rimbaud to Cage. Princeton: Princeton UP, 1981.
Rancière, Jacques. The Names of History: on the Poetics of Knowledge. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1994.
Scalapino, Leslie. How Phenomena Appear to Unfold. Elmwood: Potes & Poets, 1989.
Shaw, Lytle. “An Open Letter: Jackobson’s Metalanguage.” Notes to Poetry: 49 / http://www.arras.net/ (November 2001): 105-111.
Silliman, Ron. “Disappearance of the Word, Appearance of the World.” The New Sentence. New York: Roof Books, 1987.
—. “While Some Are Being Flies, Others Are Having Examples.” Paper Air vol. 2, No 3.
Stein, Gertrude. Lectures in America. Boston: Beacon, 1957.
Watten, Barrett. “The Turn to Language and the 1960s,” Critical Inquiry 29, no. 1 (Fall 2002).
Wimsatt, W. K. and Monroe C. Beardsley. The Verbal Icon. Lexington: U Kentucky P, 1954.
Zukofsky, Louis. Prepositions: The Collected Critical Essays. Ed. Mark Scroggins. Hanover: Wesleyan UP, 2000.