2011 | 1(7) | 65-98
Article title

„Kłopoty z opisem rzeczy” , czyli (nie)możliwość mimesis w epoce relatywizacji podmiotu

Title variants
“Problems with Depicting Things”. The Impossibility of Mimesis in the Epoch of the Relativization of the Subject
Languages of publication
At first sight it appears that Miłosz’s poetry shares many features with modernist and post-modernist poetics. One of its main themes is the impossibility of verifying the veracity of man’s sensual impressions (i.e. their referring to an ‘external’ world), which seems to un-dermine the traditional concept of literature as ‘mimesis’. However, Miłosz expressly reject-ed the postmodernist point of view that literature as ‘mimesis’ is merely a textual effect. Even when the speakers in his poems expressly deny the possibility of recreating the exter-nal world of man’s sense-impressions by means of language, they seem to achieve the very thing they wanted to deny. One of Miłosz’s favourite devices in the poetry of his middle period was the so-called ‘irony of self-betrayal’. But this negative way of affirming the cove-nant between the self and the world did not satisfy him in the long run. Wishing to over-come the antinomies of mimesis he attempted to work out a poetical strategy allowing him to describe the astonishing richness of being more directly. This strategy required a meta-physical justification. The veracity of man’s sensual and intellectual involvement with the world turned out to be rooted in the religious perspective of ‘apokatastasis’. ‘Time past’ and ‘time present’ are one in a process that both redeems and transcends time, without annihilat-ing the moments of which it consists. Miłosz’s long poems of the sixties and seventies should therefore not be simply understood as ‘literature’ or independent ‘works of art’ (poésie pure) that could be separated from other forms of being. In fact they are part of a process of redemption that occurs ‘here and now’, although it remains unclear when it will be completed. For that reason Miłosz’s longer poems should be read as ‘open texts’ or – but in a sense opposite to the postmodernist idea of ‘unfinishedness’ – ‘work in progress’. They purport to present the manifold phenomena of a man’s existential autobiography simultaneously.
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Publication order reference
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