The Vortex and the Line: Performative Gestures in Allen Ginsberg's ‘Wichita Vortex Sutra’

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    In Lines: A Brief History Tim Ingold proposes the following idea: “The straight line has emerged as a virtual icon of modernity, an index of the triumph of rational, purposeful design over the vicissitudes of the natural world.” But not all authors follow straight lines in their writings and their identity politics… Queering the straight lines of Modernism, Allen Ginsberg suggests in his long poem about America and the Vietnam War, ‘Wichita Vortex Sutra’, that lying media discourses and corrupt political and military statements about the necessity of participation in the war may be cancelled out by a poet performing the simple, yet impossible speech act of declaring the end of the war, and in doing so queering the original declaratory speech act of the executive power. The poet must enter intrepidly the vortex of lies told by the voices disseminated by the media on behalf of politicians, authority figures and benighted members of the general public, utter a few lines of magic spells, and after this performative gesture the war will end of its own accord. The vehicle of this speech act is proposed to be the Sutra, a scripture consisting of a ‘string’ or ‘thread’ of aphoristic statements designed to provide the reader of the Sutra with the possibility of Enlightenment. While the poet may be forced to travel along straight lines to penetrate the vortex, he should at any given opportunity queer these lines as much as possible.
    Publikationsdatomaj 2016
    Antal sider10
    StatusUdgivet - maj 2016
    BegivenhedIRGIC-seminar 2016: Lines - Aalborg Universitet, Aalborg, Danmark
    Varighed: 12 maj 201613 maj 2016


    SeminarIRGIC-seminar 2016: Lines
    LokationAalborg Universitet


    • Lines
    • poetry
    • Sutra