A Poetics.

Artifice of Absorption

Absorption and Impermeability

··· The visibility of words
as a precondition of reading
necessitates that words obtrude impermeably into
the world |this
impermeability makes a readerfs absorption
in words possible. The thickness
of words ensures that whatever
of their physicality is erased, or engulfed, in
the process of semantic projection,
a residue
tenaciously in-
heres that will not be sublimated
away. Writing is not a thin film
of expendable substitutions that, when reading, falls
like scales
to reveal a meaning. The tenacity of
writingfs thickness, like the bodyfs
flesh, is
ineradicable, yet mortal. It is
the intrusion
of words into the visible
that marks
writingfs own absorption in the world.
To literally put words into Merleau Pontyfs1 mouth:
The thickness of writing between
the reader & the poem is constitutive for the poem
of its visibility & for the reader
of the outer limit of his or her absorption
in the poem; it is not an obstacle
between them, it is their means
of communication. The thickness of writing,
far from rivaling that of the world,
is on the contrary the sole
means it has to go to the heart of things
by making itself part
of the material world, absorbed
by it.

Absorption & its many con-
verses, re-
verses, is at heart a measure
of the relationship between
a reader &
a work: any attempt to isolate

this dynamic in terms exclusively of
or composition
will fail on this account.
As writers|
& everyone inscribes
in the sense
I mean here|
we can
try to intensify
our relationships by considering
how they work: are we putting
each other to sleep
or waking each other up;
& what do we wake to?
Does our writing stun
or sting? Do we cling to
what wefve grasped
too well, or find tunes
in each new


(Charles Bernstein. An Excerpt from gArtifice of Absorption.h A Poetics. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1992. 86-89.)