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This essay takes the direction of visual studies to propose a reading of the contemporary French post-poetry of Jean-Marie Gleize. It explores the redefined aspect of “form” in French prose and poetry. Gleize’s work engages with plasticity in order to enhance accessibility to the real, while bypassing the usual step of proposing a new art poétique based on textual formalism and neo-rhetorical poetics.

This essay boldly takes the direction of visual studies to pro-pose a critique of contemporary French post-poetry. In so doing, it explores the redefined aspect of 'form' in contemporary French prose and poetry as it relates to plasticity. While French poeticians such as Georges Molinié at Paris-IV Sorbonne have attempted to pursue a productive approach to contemporary writing and poetics, expanding the field of 'stylistics' by coining the term 'stylicity' (stylicité), defined as the general work of form in a literary discourse, I have worked from the point of view of visual form to approach extreme contemporary models of research on literary productions that work on the space between visual and literary art, or, at minimum, literary creations that show an awareness of their material form as a visual product. Because I am working on texts that are not yet well known to the English-speaking public, in particular Jean-Marie Gleize, a prolific writer and critic who has been part of the literary experimental scene in France for more than twenty years, I would like first to offer a preliminary contextualization of his work as it relates to the 'extreme contemporary' scene of French literary creation.

As I have hopefully demonstrated in several recent articles,1 Gleize's poetics are characterized not only by the absence of an elaboration of the traditional formal constraints of any textual or graphic production but also by a critical discourse that dismisses any critical approach or production that places form at the center of its project. Nevertheless, there is an overwhelming concern about literary form as shape of the expression of the real. The purpose of this essay is to present how Gleize's post-poetry generates textual forms that are on the side of plasticity (literary shape) while rejecting the notion of form as a set of formal prescriptions and principles as the core instrument of literary expression (and more specifically poetry).

Gleize's writings in what he calls "post-poetry" (postpoésie), characterized by a double movement of de-gentrification of poetry both as a social product and as a Gongoresque linguistic construct as we traditionally know it, have been associated with the poetics of Albiach and Daive within a French 'minimalist' movement. This extreme contemporary poetic trend has generated a certain amount of controversy in Europe, coming from the world of established poetry and that of poetics. Jan Baetens, for example, in his article entitled "Enough of This So-Called Minimalist Poetry," writes that "the connection [End Page 32] between the project [to combat certain categories of pollution of the language] and a minimalist one, with its desire to achieve ideas and forms that are clear and distinct, is far from self-evident. In fact, we could even say that it is contradictory."2 The Oulipian poet, Jacques Roubaud, also offers a critical appraisal of the post-poetry movement: "Any vanguard attempt to put an end to poetry is doomed if it is not accompanied by a formal comprehension of what poetry is. Unfortunately, the vanguard never has the time for comprehension." 3 While it would be easy to dismiss the poetic work coming from the post-poetry movement around Gleize's journal Nioques as irrelevant for any poetical research centered around the questions of form, the leading European journal devoted to the poetics of form, Formes Poétiques Contemporaines, in its 2005 issue, proposed a special section on Gleize's post-poetry, precisely because, in the matter of form, this type of poetry and its accompanying critical reflection offer an enlightened theoretical counter-discourse that is 'formalist' only in so far as it involves a persistent interest in the literary text as a shaped material construct. Thus it is leading a discussion on discursive formalization of the literary (poetic) material while moving away from past theoretical debates focusing on formalism as it merely involves the immanent 'formal constraints' of a text as elaborated by textual or neo-rhetorical poetics. It should be noted that the editorial group of Formes Poétiques Contemporaines is composed in large part of present or past editors of the journal Formules, which has been characterized by a somewhat strict formalist line. However, the text entitled "This is not a manifesto" that opens the first issue of FPC, defines its topic as "recognizable forms." The qualifier "recognizable" is a key-word. It expresses a move away from a definition of 'form' only in so far as it belongs to an established and narrow nomenclature targeting the intra-textual framework. The qualifier opens the door to a notion of form that would be part of an interpretative poetics, a form that might not be part of an existing intra-textual canon (formal copia) but that can be defined as either a 'form' (form-ordering) or a 'shape' (a form-appearance) during the interpretative examination that will take into account the pragmatic nature of the writing process.

At a recent reading by Gleize in Miami, I introduced him with the following preamble: "There will always be time later to complexify. First, let's start with a simplification. In these early years of the twenty-first century there are three active experimental poetics in France: a poetics of the poem, Henri Meschonnic; a poetics of poetry, Jacques Roubaud; and a poetics of the poet, Jean-Marie Gleize." This simplification generated a fair demand for development. It was suggested that I propose an expanded version of this [End Page 33] statement as a way to introduce the work of Gleize to an English-speaking audience and to situate it in the panorama of contemporary poetic research in France. What follows is a brief attempt to do so.

Jean-Marie Gleize, born in 1946, belongs to a younger generation than that of Meschonnic and Roubaud who were born in 1932. He belongs to the generation that came to age in 1968, in the first wave of the babyboomers. In the late 60's he was a graduate student at the École Normale Supérieure, and his work may appear at first synthetical of the general work on poetics and philosophy (including Deleuze, Derrida, Barthes, Foucault) done in the second half of the twentieth century. Several statements found in his past writings may seem echoes of position statements found in previous important works. To stay with the two main experimental poetics of Meschonnic and Roubaud mentioned above, when in 1992 in A noir Gleize discusses the possibility of a "negative modernity"4 one can hear echoes of Meschonnic's position on the need for a "negative poetics" as stated in his own "manifesto" entitled "For a negative poetics."5 Also, when Gleize states in his own words that "poetry says what it says when it says it,"6 he comes very close to the similar quote by Roubaud: "Poetry says what it says by saying it" (Roubaud, Poésie, etcetera 77).

Gleize's first poetical-critical interest was the writings of the poet Francis Ponge. The journal Gleize created, Nioques (now in its third series), uses as cryptic title a word created by Ponge. Like Ponge, Gleize does not believe in a distinction between poetry and prose. He speaks plainly of his writings as "prose-poetry," or as he puts it as a pun, any writing is a "UFO" (Unidentified Formal Object). However, since 1981, in numerous texts of both a creative and a critical nature, Gleize has clearly established a profile that can be characterized as "poetics of the poet" because his approach to poetical issues, contrary to Meschonnic and Roubaud, is not a poetics of the text. Gleize does not propose an intra-textual exploration of the poem and of poetry (hence, I believe, the reduced interest in his work in 'formal' identification), but offers a preliminary model of interpretive poetics that focuses on the poet as both part and interpreter of the real that surrounds him. It is thus the primary mission of the poet to construct the means of accessibility to that world for his reader. The buzzwords that are associated currently with Gleize's work partially capture his theoretical identity. After many previous tentative terminological attempts to define his object of inquiry ("poetry poor" [poésie poor], "pooetry" [pooésie], "pozetry" [poézie], etc.), with the new century Gleize settled on his current term of "post-poetry" [postpoésie], which captures his singular poetical approach in terms of both time and space. He is no longer trying to place himself within the historical confines of the textual poetics that [End Page 34] have concentrated on the study of the internal specificity of the text to find the 'essence' of poetry; poetry is an artificial object that can be considered from the outside as the construct of a writing subject, and this subject and his object should be explored as a relationship that has a certain place in the symbolic world. The second term that is attached to Gleize's poetics is "realness" ["réelism"], a term that applies both to the status of the poet and to the type of text that should emerge from this reevaluation of what post-poetry should be. For Gleize there should not be a glorification of the persona of the poet: he is a humble recorder of the surrounding world. Thus the 'costume' (social status, different voice, etc.) should come off ("nakedness" of the poet), and the text produced should be in the form of a humble 'prose' that refuses the outside signs that say 'poetry', especially when it is simply a (bad) continuation of what is usually perceived as a poetry form (fixed form, metrics, versified dispositio, etc.). Also, the purpose of post-poetry is not to provide a rhapsodic sacred glorification of the world; it is a prosaic rendering (topical-ordering document) of the writer's experience of the real: "It should be prose, an actual prose, flat and neat, in black, just as if it were a mere copy of life."7 As a result, Gleize has proposed that his writings could be recognized as part of a new discursive mode that he calls "Infinitesimal journal [le journal infime],"8 which presents itself as a direct, immediate, natural means for the writer's instantaneous capturing of the real.

This "realness" [réelisme] forms the base of Jean-Marie Gleize's literal poetics [poétique littérale, littéralisme]. Thus the analogy with the technique of the original black room, camera obscura or pinhole sténopé technique. With no target, lens or diaphragm shutter, the image is the result of "a simple line of white light. Penetrating."9 It can be blurry if the (minimum) hole is too large; if it is too small, then there are only iridescent structures caused by the diffraction of the little amount of light (incontrollable schadographs). This fuzziness, whether by lack or excess, is the result of the uncertainty of the representation. What counts is only the focusing time, the distance from the object, and the naked form, seized as it was discovered. A minimum of interference by the operator, who is a simple intensity sensor, not even a capturer. No after-image [après de l'image] either: no laboratory, no development, no air-brushing, no artistic fluff: "the photographic black and white objectivization" (Gleize, Vacarme). In Les Chiens noirs de la prose Gleize was still trying to find his critical bearing: "I call this prose straight poetry, which is to say the opposite of pure poetry [poésie pure], the 'poetry poor' [poésie poor]. Because of this, poetry poor, poetry for [poésie pour], I am writing pooetry [pooésie] or becoming something like pooetry poor against [poor contre], for [End Page 35] and against [pour et contre]" (Gleize, Chiens noirs 145). "Straight poetry" [straight poésie] inevitably links it on principle to the type of Alfred Stieglitz' new photographic objectivity that he advocated against the then prevalent Henry Peach Robinson's pictorialism: "Personally, I like my photography straight, unmanipulated, devoid of all tricks: a print not looking like anything but a photograph, living through its own inherent qualities and revealing its own spirit."10 In taking up the epithet of "straight" to describe what he means by poetry, Gleize, volens nolens, takes on the theoretical heritage of this type of raw photography. The theory of "straight photography" leads to a reflection on the irrelevance of form. Stieglitz wrote, "Forms, as such, do not interest me unless they happen to be an outer equivalent of something already taking form within me. To many, forms matter in their own right. As I see it, this has nothing to do with photography, but with the merely literary or pictorial" (Stieglitz 14). This anti-form point of view is partly dictated by the fact that snapshots made by straight photography were often considered as "documentaries" [documentaires], without artistic pretension. It is worth stressing here the similarity of relationship between the agent of the capture and the real, since Gleize speaks of his own work as "documental-constructional writings" [écriture documentale-dispositale]. This elimination of the preoccupation of researching artificial forms for a work in line with "straight" photography is made explicit in a major work by Marius de Zayas, who was at the time the principal colleague of Stieglitz:

The difference between Photography and Artistic-Photography is that, in the former, man tries to get at that objectivity of Form which generates the different conceptions that man has of Form, while the second uses the objectivity of Form to express a preconceived idea in order to convey an emotion. The first is the fixing of an actual state of Form, the other is the representation of the objectivity of Form, subordinated to a system of representation [...]. The photographer expresses, so far as he is able to, pure objectivity.11

By suggesting a cognateness between straight photography and straight poetry, I am not claiming by any means that Gleize's terminological choice is descended in a straight line from the ideas of Camera Work (circa 1910); I am not preoccupied with lineage, heritage, and other inventories of possessions reduced to historically acquired property. I am establishing a ground approach in the history of ideas in order to situate the terms that mark out the event horizon of Gleize's post-poetry defined as straight poetry. I am trying to imagine that which, in this proclaimed anti-formalism, carries on with and renews the poetic questionings on the nature and function of poetry in our expressive effort to interpret our world. [End Page 36]

Gleize's poetic doctrine is completely in the capturing [prise]. It works itself out in the double device of writing: the capturing of prose and the photo shot by Polaroid. In complete harmony with the doctrine of the negative, however, the goal of Gleize's instantaneous capturing is by no means the celebration or glorification of what is seen. The photo is not the encomiastic selection of the real. Rather, it is the simple vision and image report stripped of its meaningful contents. It is literally empty. One must see nothing there, and one must not confuse Gleize's type of photography with the temporary monumentalization of an aspect of life that one will cherish forever. This festive and commemorative photography, which seeks the "Kodak moment" ("Kodak: the emotion of the instant!"), belongs to a world of effusive individual lyricism, since just like neo-lyric poetry this pre-nostalgic photography takes the time to give itself a meaning, to canonize the being or the event that is there, and, with lively enjoyment, sing its praise to the world. Let's listen to the words of Pinson, one of the master singers of the current French lyric poetic movement: "One resorted to the neo-lyric label to define the emergence in the first decade [1980] of poets who [. . .] shared the same concern about a poetry that was more 'lyrical' than 'thoughtful'."12

Like his early mentor Denis Roche, Gleize has long abandoned the traditional reference to painting (ut pictura poesis) in favor of photography to refine his original definition of what he wants to achieve in his extreme contemporary poetry (while another preeminent contemporary poet, Dominique Fourcade, is still using the link poetry-painting to explore his own formal poetic anxiety).13 The Polaroid image is a privileged instrument for Gleize precisely because—in a predigital time—it allows for a mechanical seizure of the real without a negative. Gleize, as propagandist of "negative modernity" and a great exegete of Ponge, surely did not miss the sylleptic intensity which was created from start to finish by the polysemy of the term "negative." Moreover, the Polaroid photo is a unique snapshot: no retouches and no possible imitations.

For the quick demonstration linked to this short essay, I chose one of Gleize's Polaroids (Figure 1). The fuzziness of the image does not make the interpretation of it any easier. It escapes identification, or what could be a 'depth' of meaning. The hasty note is a simple dedication, not a title nor a commentary of the "cleaned, naked, barren" [lavée, dénudée, dépouillée] blurred picture. The Polaroid crushes the shapes and volumes and achieves a simple impenetrable surface-level interpretation of the snapshot. In Gleize's photographic work the decontextualized image, stripped of its actual pomp and its surroundings, escapes the fixation of individualized idolatry that constitutes [End Page 37] the photo-chromo as expressed in this Sony advertisement (2007): "Capture life's most precious moments in the purest, most detailed picture available: high definition." In Gleize's image, the cliché is absent.

Figure 1. Photo courtesy of Jean-Marie Gleize.
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Figure 1.

Photo courtesy of Jean-Marie Gleize.

Gleize joins Rimbaud's way of thinking in racing speed: "There is nothing to see in there!" [Il n'y a rien a voir là-dedans].14 The quick snapshot in order to see nothing, so that everything can fade away. In realness [réelisme], everything is played out in the voluntary absence of seeing. The figure of the blind person comes back time and time again in Gleize's written work. In this way, poetry becomes the paradoxical fact that it is something that leads one to see the invisible. In the Polaroid, Gleize experiences the simplification, the erasure, the stripping bare, the photographic unrobing of an object or event that no longer carries value in and of itself. The act of Gleize's photograph, blurring the real, is not performed in order to swindle it, but to restore its value. Literally, nothing is here except for a photo in its state of complete nakedness. "The things speak without knowing what they're talking about."15 Gleize is not one of those who believe, like Lautréamont, that everything is explicable: if there is an approach of elucidation in his writings, it is that which consists in confirming the "undecipherable, senseless [character] of the real." Reflecting on Néon, Gleize can therefore affirm: "The idea that the real [End Page 38] is obscure and that one goes forward in an incomprehensible (and absolutely inflexible) reality is taken charge of by this prose that conserves and realizes this part of obscurity of the real. Here one comes across a precept of Ponge which I support: 'above all else, do not arrange things'" (Gleize, Vacarme). Straight poetry, refusing all manipulations of form, offers itself as a dictation of the real, as blurry and hazy, and as what is inarticulately perceived: "Towards what I'm looking for (very small fish of reality in the puddle, against all existing images)."16

In this way, Gleize's "literalism" [réalisme littéral, littéralisme] neglects the use of form in its double aspect of image (as a rhetorical cliché borrowed from a vast abundance of literature such that in itself time doesn't change it) and metric (relating to the tightly controlled prosodic system resulting in a simple linguistic densification that conceals or rearranges the components of the discourse). The omission of form in Gleize's extreme contemporary writings assures the deficit of meaning for the benefit of the direct transcription of the real.

In La Langue la poésie, I wrote that the probable future of French fin-de -twentieth century poetry will be played out between image and formula.17 In Gleize's work, we see a line of argument that goes in this same direction:

One can henceforth […] witness the ascent of words that are coming to register themselves on empty screens […]. One understands that this phenomenon is in no way a substitution of the live, authentic word by images denounced as dead, artificial, misleading, but by sign-words [signesmots] and utterances that silently impose themselves from the moment of the catastrophe-images [images catastrophe].18

"After the images," "the images catastrophe"—it would be easy to imagine here the prophetic (anticipated) expression of an imminent death that has already been announced, and maybe already consummated. "Everything must disappear!" wrote Gleize in 1993, and here he seems to be auctioning off canonical poetry as if it were merely vulgar seasonal goods. Ever since the statement "Poetry is inadmissible; besides it does not exist" proclaimed by Denis Roche in 1968,19 the side of French poetry that does not see itself as "neo-lyric" has had the impression that poetry was dealing with its own disappearance: "Game over!" Even if, according to Gleize, the laurels of poetry "are cut," this desired conclusion of poetic formalism in no way justifies the apocalyptic shootings aimed at poetry; even if there are no more poetic forms, there is still poetry in post-poetry:

Otherwise I don't think in terms of discontinuity or rupture. If I say post-poetry, I'm meaning to say first of all that we are dealing with taking note of the fact that "poetry" (as an established [End Page 39] genre, continuing to claim its formal specificity [spécificité formelle], its specific difference, whether it be in forms held to be "essential," or in "unedited" forms) is behind us, or beside the point, that we no longer need to be protesting "against" poetry, but instead should formulate other sites, other devices and produce the tools and the theoretical frameworks that permit them to be considered as such. At the same time (and this is why I am not insisting upon the fantasy of "rupture"), it's always through relating to poetry, or thepoetry [lapoésie] that "post-poetry" (as its name indicates) situates itself.

(Gleize, Vacarme)

Thus, the attention given to the act of poeticization over the finished literary product explains the fact that Gleize defines his own approach vis-à-vis poetry as an "interior exit" [sortie intérieure] of poetry: out of the traditional discourse on immanent poetics and nevertheless still within poetics. Poetry continues, but outside of poetry. Abandoning all central preoccupations about definition and identity founded on formal criteria, this space of the experimental poetic where frameworks and practices of post-poetry must be developed, I propose to accept Gleize's own term, "negative modernity." As indicated earlier, we find one of this term's first appearances in A Noir: poésie et littéralité : "Why not admit the existence, if not of a negative 'modernity', then at least of an apophatic dimension of poetic fact, that can otherwise manifest itself in very diverse manners, even in very contradictory forms" (Gleize, A noir 15). In this quotation, the term "apophatic" refers to a mystical vocabulary in which it opposes the term "cataphatic." In religious vocabulary, knowing God in a "cataphatic" way signifies recognizing him in a positive way by his actions, by his energies, at the extreme, the Golden Calf (of poetry). The contrary, the apophatic or negative way, successfully eliminates all exterior manifestations in order only to keep the inexpressible being of divinity. In this fundamental quotation by Gleize, the term "apophatic" implicitly designates a practice that will later become central in his works: the principle of "stripping bare" [mise à nu]. Post-poetry imposes the progressive stripping bare of (false) appearances. Gleize wants to "undress" poetry and the poet.

This clarification of the term "apophatic" in Gleize's works does not in any way imply that he participates in any sort of mantic. These explicative commentaries aim to explain that the term "negative poetry" with an apophatic component absolutely does not refer to a nihilist negativity. We are not speaking of a neo-dada rebel, destructor or desperate person (even if Gleize's justification for the title of his journal, Nioques, "signifies nothing," can appear to be a distant echo of the very same explanation given by Dada to justify its name). For Gleize it has to do with a coercive and courageous asceticism of literal realism. Post-poetry strips itself bare of its social clothing [End Page 40] (forms) by which it wants to be recognized as such, in order to reach or to return to an elementary state of its nature of language and in this way to recover its real truth of literal expression, independently of clan markings or of time period. At the same time, the writing of poetry as chronicle of the ordinary composed of the intimacy of the poet's relationship to things resists the temptation of 'depth of meaning' [profondeur du sens] to remain at the surface of its direct expression.

Gleize's poetic negativity is, according to "negative modernity" [modernité négative], a philosophical concept that is based on the most recent work on essence, particularly that of Levinas where negativity concerns the non-essence of the subject. The subject is not a being [être]; it's an intangible state of being [étant]. It is a snapshot that does not remain but that leaves a trace, a sort of outline of presence. Thus Levinas is able to write in his study of Heidegger, "The subject is behind the being, outside the being. And that is why there cannot be an ontology of the idealistic subject. It is not sufficient, in order to go beyond the idealism and the gnoseologic attitude that is his, to affirm purely and simply that the subject in turn is a being of a superior dignity, in the indifference regarding time as manifested by the 'subject-object' relationship, there is a sort of negation of the ontological character of the knowledge."20 For Gleize's negative poetry, any subject designated as poetry does not exist except as the negation of the poetry's being. The poet, if there is a poet, does not exist as such except in the snapshot of an utterance without any grasp of meaning. There is no need to modify poetry, there is no need to morph it into something that would be the essence of poetry, since there is prose: "prose in prose [...] literally literal." "I become, I write a manual of prose in prose. Or further: I write in prose a manual of prose in prose. The prose simply becomes [...] very prose prose, clear and flat, black, as if I were recopying life" (Gleize, Chiens noirs 36). Gleize calls this individual transcription of what he selects to capture "the objective intimate" [l'intime objectif], and it is for him the post-poetic shape of contemporary lyricism:

As for the objective intimate, it has nothing to do (if I dare to express myself somewhat bluntly) with the poetic sobs of interiority, the expressive and personal laments: of the intimate, of the minute and of the less than nothing. The indifference signifies solely this: the taking into account of the intimate 'in everything' [is] an undertaking of transposition, transformation, and literalization implying the maintaining of the material at a distance.

(Gleize, Vacarme)

As experienced in his latest book, Film à venir, the poet "becomes" [je deviens] through the expressions of realness realized as verbal images: [End Page 41]

Figure 2. Film à venir. Conversions, Jean-Marie Gleize, collection Fiction & Cie, © Éditions du Seuil, 2007, page 22.
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Figure 2.

Film à venir. Conversions, Jean-Marie Gleize, collection Fiction & Cie, © Éditions du Seuil, 2007, page 22.

With the collection of these verbal images, Gleize captures what he sees according to his own disorientation in the hope of respecting the obligation of strict literalism, the basic credo of his post-poetry. The surface of things progressively inscribes itself on an empty slate that could as well be the black (negative) opposite of the "Image":

Figure 3. Film à venir. Conversions, Jean-Marie Gleize, collection Fiction & Cie, © Éditions du Seuil, 2007, page 117.
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Figure 3.

Film à venir. Conversions, Jean-Marie Gleize, collection Fiction & Cie, © Éditions du Seuil, 2007, page 117.

[End Page 42]

The act of writing the "Infinitesimal journal" allows the reality to emerge as transcription of a dislocated, disjointed, and disorderly real that the poet refuses to organize and assume ("He" [il], the pronoun that, according to Benveniste, expresses the subject outside the being) through established syntax and the overwhelming need in French to offer the rendition of an orderly, organic, and perfectly understandable surrounding world through proper grammatical organization and abuse of subordinate clauses (see Proust).

Figure 4. Film à venir. Conversions, Jean-Marie Gleize, collection Fiction & Cie, © Éditions du Seuil, 2007, page 149.
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Figure 4.

Film à venir. Conversions, Jean-Marie Gleize, collection Fiction & Cie, © Éditions du Seuil, 2007, page 149.

[End Page 43]

The transition in the book from Figure 3 to Figure 4 underscores the depth-lessness of the appearing real on the surface of the text, and the chance ordering of the juxtaposed sentences (echoes or refrains of many isolated sentences found in the rest of the book, and adjusted in an apparent random assemblage similar to Ron Silliman's "new sentences") illustrates the erasing of the self-presence of an authorial authority as an interpretative instance. Both figures, in contiguous succession, constitute a primary roman-photo, shape of things to come, a prologue to a narrative becoming [je deviens], prelude to the film to follow [film à venir], just as in La Jetée, another narrative of a reconstituted fragmented depthless world of memories in black and white.

Figure 5. Chris Marker, La Jetée (1963).
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Figure 5.

Chris Marker, La Jetée (1963).

To infer from the end of the twentieth-century debates between Gleize and the poetry of "neo-lyricism" that Gleize is simply an anti-lyric poet, as we have read here and there, is a journalistic hasty tale. His seminar work for the past two years at the ENS-Lyon dedicated precisely to "lyricism and literality" and his two most recent books no longer allow us to position Gleize simply in the opposition to lyricism. For Gleize, equating lyricism exclusively with the pathetic, the 'voice', and the 'song of the world', is not only a deviation but a misappropriation of lyricism. On the way to establishing the plasticity of "becoming the prose of poetry," Gleize is the propagandist of the simplification lyrique: the stripping bare of fixed intra-textual forms and of the arrival of the time of the very "prose in prose" (Chiens noirs 146) poetic method. In front of him, images march past on the screen, indecipherable fog. At the end of the images, on the white wall, verbal installation [dispositif], the black plasticity of prose captures his own phenomenology of everyday life. Through the vagueness, by successive, insistent, traveling approximations [End Page 44] which are voluntarily ignorant of the imposed figures, the 'objective' post-poet begins to transcribe, in a visual turn, the intimate lyricism that, in passing, surfacially, gives rise to the outline of things.

Jean-Jacques Thomas
Duke University


1. Jean-Jacques Thomas, "Sténopé de Jean-Marie Gleize," Formes Poétiques Contemporaines , 3 (2005): 11-26. See also "Jean-Marie Gleize ou la poétique de l'aporie herméneutique," in Écrire l'énigme, Christelle Reggiani and Bernard Magné, eds. (Paris: Presses Universitaires de Paris-Sorbonne, 2007), 215-30, and "Photographic Memories of French Poetry: Denis Roche, Jean-Marie Gleize," Yale French Studies, "Writing the Image After the Visual Turn," Jan Baetens and Ari Blatt, eds. (2008, forthcoming).

2. Originally published in French on the webzine Intervalles of the Centre International de Poétique at Leuven University, and in English in Substance 107 (2005): 66-74.

3. Jacques Roubaud, Poésie, etcetera: ménage (Paris: Stock, 1995), 173. Translations through-out are mine.

4. Jean-Marie Gleize, A noir: poésie et littéralité (Paris: Seuil, 1992), 15.

5. Henri Meschonnic, "Pour une poétique négative," Le Français aujourd'hui, 114 (1996): 31-40.

6. Jean-Marie Gleize, Néon, actes et légendes (Paris: Seuil, 2004), 11.

7. Jean-Marie Gleize, Les Chiens noirs de la prose (Paris: Seuil, 1999), 36.

8. The English translation is inadequate to reproduce the density of the French inventive terminology. The term created by Gleize is modeled on the current French expression "journal intime" (the diary), and it is semantically ambiguous since it can be understood both as an "unimportant chronicle" and as "the chronicle of the unimportant." It is a distant echo of George Perec's "l'infra-ordinaire," a type of writing that supposedly has no other purpose than to report the "little facts/events" that the writer observes as he stands in a specific city (street, square, etc.) at a specific point in time. In my article "Du hareng saur au caviar ou l'autoportrait bien ordinaire selon G. Perec," in Georges Perec: inventivité, postérité , Yvonne Goga and Mireille Ribière, eds. (Cluj: Casa Cartii, 2006), 292-310, I offer an analysis of this type of self-portraiture by Perec, comparing it to Roubaud's similar attempt in his Tokyo infra-ordinaire (Paris: Inventaire/Invention editions, 2005).

9. Jean-Marie Gleize, Vacarme, 30 (2005), n.p.

10. Alfred Stieglitz, quoted in Alfred Stieglitz, Dorothy Norman, ed. (Romford: Aperture, 1989), 18.

11. Alfred Stieglitz, Camera Work, Simone Philippi, ed. (Cologne/New York: Taschen, 1997), 709.

12. Jean-Claude Pinson, Habiter en poète: essai sur la poésie contemporaine (Seyssel: Champ Vallon, 1995), 55.

13. See Peter Consenstein, "Le Présent immédiat dans la poésie de Dominique Fourcade," Contemporary French and Francophone Studies, 10:4 (2006): 447-62.

14. Jean-Marie Gleize, "D'ailleurs il n'y a rien à voir là-dedans," Revue des Sciences Humaines, 193 (1984): 33-37.

15. Jean-Marie Gleize's Exhibit, Aix @rt, Galerie Sextius, 1996.

16. Jean-Marie Gleize, in "Entretien avec Jean-Marie Gleize," Prétexte Hors série 9 (2001).

17. Jean-Jacques Thomas, La Langue la poésie (Lille: Presses du Septentrion, 1989).

18. Jean-Marie Gleize, "Lacs, écrans, torrents, couloirs," Lieux propices: l'énonciation des lieux / le lieu de l'énonciation dans les contextes francophones interculturels, Simon Harel and Adelaide Russo, eds. (Québec: Les Presses de l'Université Laval, 2005), 69-77.

19. Denis Roche, "Le Mécrit," in La Poésie est inadmissible (Paris: Seuil, 1995), 585.

20. Emmanuel Levinas, En découvrant l'existence avec Husserl et Heidegger (Paris: Vrin, 1967), 134. [End Page 45]

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