On "Against Sincerity" (Louise Glück, 1993)

At The Masquerade

The essay is published in Glück’s book, “Proofs and Theories”

actuality = refers to the world of event

– huh? I just take this as what actually happened that the art references or contemplates

truth = embodied vision, illumination or enduring discovery which is the idea of art

– endurance is mentioned later in the essay…the art must have the endurance to continue to give illumination in order for it to be true, or hold true
– is this Modernism? Certainly Post-Modernism is far from sincere, and self-referential

honesty/sincerity = “telling the truth,” not necessarily the path to illumination
– but it can be?

“the tendency to connect the truth with the idea of honesty is a form of anxiety” (33).

– how true
– is truth real or imagined? Imagined, contemplated, and therefore more real due to its endurance, the “other truth”, what she means by actuality is forgotten and no longer real because it has no existence

The poet is not the speaker. Is this possible?

“the source of art is experience, the end product truth, and the artist, surveying the actual, constantly intervenes and manages, lies, and deletes, all in the service of truth” (34).

Memory isn’t truthful in the first place. There is never really an actuality.

This whole essay may very well explain my own anxiety. Or, I can chalk it up to a love of truth rather than a deficiency in my brain?

Practically every seminar on art I’ve attended contexts the work within the biography of the artist, at some point, and for probably too long. Isn’t part of Dickinson’s allure that the art was created by a shut-in? That the work was “almost lost”? How far can we take ourselves away from this knowledge in reading the work, once we know it?

The art must show innocence. The poet cannot become too concentrated, or of one mind for very long. Again, this urgency and temporality-question.

“if we recognize movement and change but no longer believe in anything beyond death, then all evolution is perceived as movement away, the stable element, the referent, being what was, not what will be, a world as stationary and alive as the scenes on the Grecian urn”

– the most interesting and complex passage, for me
– is evolution the stable element?
– what is the referent?
– Science v. Faith, faith is innocent

Give the reader just enough clues so that the reader feels the insight, and then it will be true.



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2 Responses to “On "Against Sincerity" (Louise Glück, 1993)”

  1. gbem1 Says:

    Crazy visual layout. I’m not sure if you or Gluck wrote

    [Certainly Post-Modernism is far from sincere, and self-referential]

    but if you, I would advise with warning–definitions of sincerity become the issue of this type of statement. What type? Well, if the artist’s work fits under the broad tree that is Post-Modernism, we may say that any actual efforts the artist is making, if the artist is being the honorable creator, regardless of whether it is anti-art or the antithesis of sincerity, may still indeed be sincere.

    A basic philosophical retort. I also am not sure if all Post-Modernists would go so far as to say that their work is meant to be non-sincere, or beyond-sincere. And Post-Modernism is such a strange term, even now with Flarf and Confessional and Conceptual and Hypertextual artists around, to name only a few . . .

    Ah, theory . . . sometimes I like being the writer who thinks headily (or strives to!) but still, to use a stray metaphor, chooses to splash around in the kiddy pool instead of intentionally diving off in the deep end. Better yet, how about that middle “decline area” that is between the shallow and deep ends of the pool? What about outside the water entirely?

    We humans and our dualisms, are so funny sometimes.

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