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Glenn W. Fetzer

Professor of French
Calvin College, Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA 
Camargo Foundation Fellowship: 2003 - Winter-Spring

Project: Completion of a book manuscript on the poetry of Emmanuel Hocquard. Emmanuel Hacquard and The Poetry of Negative Modernity joins written and visual texts together with a particular understanding of negative modernity and Hocquard's professed adherence to its dimension of literality to bring different kinds of details into shaper focus.   In his pursuit of literality, Hocquard enacts a model of the "discontinuous organization of language," a poetic practice known to some as an "action poétique." In giving attention to some of the disparate expressions of Hocquard's creative endeavors—essays, letters, poems, fictions, etc.—and in pursuing the poet's attraction to Deleuze's interest in organizing constructs, Wittgenstein's idea of ordinary language, and Clément Rosset's critique of the notion of the real, this book presents features of the poet's work that reflect the imprint of negative modernity and explores those dimensions through discussions and interpretive readings.

As the multiple facets of Hocquard's "poetic action" attest, the notion of negative modernity facilitates modes of inquiry broad enough to engage a wide range of explorations concerning language, literality, perception, and knowledge. More importantly, perhaps, it provides impetus for artistic engagements that operate outside of accepted dichotomous models of poetry.  This is, perhaps, the most significant contribution of the notion of negative modernity.  It supercedes form-content/ lyrical- formalist / spirit-letter /  subject-object /  metaphorical-materialist polarities and places emphasis, rather, on a relational poetics that draws inexhaustibly on language in all its occurrences. In an economy of writing devoid of any point of leverage, traditional notions such as source, reference and metaphor, are inoperative.  The three chapters written during the Camargo residency discuss features of the poet's work that reflect the prominence of a writing based on the horizontal axis of language.  These are features that propel into the forefront a whole range of issues: epistemology (its grounds, of course, but more importantly, its methods), the characteristics and validity of visual perception (issues addressed in the chapter titled The Rhetoric of Visual Perception and the nature and limitations of subjectivity and objectivity (Chapter Five, "Banality, Anonymity, and the Power of Everyday Life"), and the awareness of the potential of elements (usually language but not limited to language) to occur and reoccur in repeated and varied relationships (discussed especially in Chapter Six, "Lyricism in the Empirical dimension").