The Hermit Poet

March 21, 2005

Fault, Fragmentation, and Formations – Introduction

Filed under: General — Neil Aitken @ 12:57 pm

Brenda Hillman’s Cascadia can be read as an enactment of the post-feminist idea of intertextuality — a term used by Kristeva to designate “the transposition of one or more systems of signs on to another which is accompanied by a new enunciative and denotative position” (Kelsey 1). In this case, Hillman transposes the semiotics of geology onto the field of poetics to create a textual space where ideas of post-feminism, alchemy, and cultural materialism can interact. This space is a textual representation of California. The poems that comprise Cascadia become representative not only of California in content, but also in form and dynamic. And as with California, the most prominent feature in these poems is the concept of the fault line, the transform boundary between shifting tectonic plates.


Of course, it’s actually hard to know if any reading of this text
is correct or even close, given my limited familiarity
with post-feminism and geology. Should the critic’s gender matter?
Should extended research be necessary in order to access or
appreciate what is happening in any poem? Are these poems written
for an ideal reader who possesses an extensive knowledge
of both post-feminist thought and geology? In grappling with the text
and trying to understand the source materials that Hillman hints at,
I have had to throw away more phallogocentric methods and
have tried instead to examine instead how these material touch
and retouch this discourse. So perhaps this is successful. Perhaps not.

Kelsey, Alice. “Introduction to Kristeva.” Writing Across the Curriculum. Northern Illinois University. 5 August 1996. 9 March 2005

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