Beyond the Sign. Henri Meschonnic's Poetics of Rhythm and Continuum. Towards an Anthropological Theory of Language

Marko Pajevic

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Basing the conception of language on the sign represents also an obstacle to the awareness of certain elements of human life, especially to a full understanding of what language or art do, Henri Meschonnic’s poetics of the continuum and of rhythm criticizes the sign based on Benveniste’s terms of rhythm and discourse, developing an anthropology of language. Rhythm, for Meschonnic, is no formal metrical but a semantic principle, each time unique and unforeseeable. As for Humboldt, his starting point is not the word but the ensemble of speech; language is not ergon but energeia. The poem then is not a literary form but a process of transformation that Meschonnic defines as the invention of a form of life by a form of language and vice versa. Thus a poem is a way of thinking and rhythm is form in movement. The particular subject of art and literature is consequently not the author but a process of subjectivation – this is the contrary of the conception of the sign. By demonstrating the limits of the sign, Meschonnic’s poetics attempts to thematize the intelligibility of presence. Art and literature raise our awareness of this element of human life we cannot grasp conceptually. This poetical thinking is a necessary counterforce against all institutionalization.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)304-318
Number of pages15
JournalForum for Modern Language Studies
Volume47 (3)
Publication statusPublished - 2011

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