Pages

25 February 2009

Canto XXVIII


One I've been putting off, with tales of WCW, but have to face it, even if only to pass quickly by. But it is a long one and just see how it looks on the page. It's solid text for most of the time. Daunting, without any gaps to help find a shift in topic or tone.

Anyway, we start in Italy, with what looks like a folkjoke: God looked at his work and saw there was something missing, so he formed the Romagnolo. No, I don't get it either. Soon we move on to an American setting, and the words Kansas and Topeka crop up repeatedly (T is the capital of K).

Oh, I can't be bothered with this one! I've read it several times and it's been thoroughly infuriating like the most infuriating of Pound is. It's perfectly simple English, mainly, but the third level of significance is impenetrable.

Maybe I'll develop this theory of levels of significance. It's a semiotic approach. There are certainly more than two levels here. In more straightforward texts, there may be just two: the words (signifiers) and the meaning (signified). But definitely here, the signified becomes a signifier. So the story of the forming of the Romagnolo is a signifier to ... what?

Let's go back to the Confucius canto, XIII, a place where I felt happy and safe. The first level is to decipher the words about Kung. Not trivial, but not so hard. The words decode to give an account of an incident in Kung's life. (& not just the words - you have to bring in some outside knowledge). So then, you have this incident, which is in a context or a stream of other incidents, accounts, descriptions, and the items in that stream become signifiers. The Kung canto comes between the business canto (3 tales of successful business) and the hell cantos. So there is some story about different types of behaviour or morality being examined. I felt that there was some diachronic relationship there, but here - I can't find it at all.

But I've been more or less awake since 3 this morning, I'm half-watching a football match on telly, and listening to some jazz (nice!), so can't expect much. Two more cantos to skate over before I reach the end of the first group. There's a shit pastiche of Chaucer coming up before long (in XXX) so that's something to look forward to.

No comments: