Tuesday, February 13, 2018
In the Oxonian Review, Philip Jones reviews Jorie Graham's Fast.
Does this alter what is signified by the label “we”? This is a site of trepidation in Fast in part because of how Graham deploys the term “dwelling” as a synonym for presence across these poems. Dwelling in this context is freighted with its associations with the German philosopher Martin Heidegger. Heidegger sees dwelling as a fundamental condition of human existence. It is also something intimately tied up with the agency humans are perceived to have in shaping the world. For Heidegger “[w]e attain to dwelling, so it seems, only by means of building”, although such building is never the provenance of the non-human. It is unclear from Fast whether Graham fully endorses Heidegger’s understanding of dwelling but it always appears in the poems in a way which express some anxiety over the sustainability of dwelling in a situation where the uniqueness of human agency and thought is brought into question.
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