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The Closures of the Open Text: Lyn Hejinian’s “Paradise Found”

The Closures of the Open Text: Lyn Hejinian’s “Paradise Found” J A C O B E D M O N D want to open up for discussion a topic that has to date remained largely closed, due, ironically enough, to an emphasis on openness. As Meir Sternberg observes, from modernism's "turn, in practice and theory, toward the open ending," to poststructuralism's "preaching [of] endless indeterminacy," the literary-critical climate of recent decades has overwhelmingly favored openness over closure, obscuring "the family likeness underlying the extreme models" such that even "the poetics of anti-closure at its most radical" involves "multiple closure" (519­20, 568­69). Reflecting this tendency, the claim to openness pervades both the self-presentation and critical reception of Language writing, concealing the closures of its open text. This, at least, I will argue, is the case for Lyn Hejinian, one of the most prominent writers to have emerged from this highly influential latetwentieth-century U.S. literary avant-garde, and the one perhaps most closely associated with its rhetoric of openness. While, as Alan Golding notes, Language writers have used openness to signify an emphasis on linguistic opacity, autonomy, and polysemy and the rejection of organicist notions of naturalness, presence, and immediacy ("Openness" 80­88), Hejinian's writing exhibits a striking preoccupation with total I http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Contemporary Literature University of Wisconsin Press

The Closures of the Open Text: Lyn Hejinian’s “Paradise Found”

Contemporary Literature , Volume 50 (2) – Dec 16, 2009

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Publisher
University of Wisconsin Press
Copyright
Copyright © University of Wisconsin Press
ISSN
1548-9949
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Abstract

J A C O B E D M O N D want to open up for discussion a topic that has to date remained largely closed, due, ironically enough, to an emphasis on openness. As Meir Sternberg observes, from modernism's "turn, in practice and theory, toward the open ending," to poststructuralism's "preaching [of] endless indeterminacy," the literary-critical climate of recent decades has overwhelmingly favored openness over closure, obscuring "the family likeness underlying the extreme models" such that even "the poetics of anti-closure at its most radical" involves "multiple closure" (519­20, 568­69). Reflecting this tendency, the claim to openness pervades both the self-presentation and critical reception of Language writing, concealing the closures of its open text. This, at least, I will argue, is the case for Lyn Hejinian, one of the most prominent writers to have emerged from this highly influential latetwentieth-century U.S. literary avant-garde, and the one perhaps most closely associated with its rhetoric of openness. While, as Alan Golding notes, Language writers have used openness to signify an emphasis on linguistic opacity, autonomy, and polysemy and the rejection of organicist notions of naturalness, presence, and immediacy ("Openness" 80­88), Hejinian's writing exhibits a striking preoccupation with total I

Journal

Contemporary LiteratureUniversity of Wisconsin Press

Published: Dec 16, 2009

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