Performing objects: On the verbal making of things
- Číslo 60 
PublisherUniverzita Karlova, Filozofická fakulta
SourceLitteraria Pragensia, 2020, 60, 12-32
performative literature, modern art, Dinggedicht, textuality
The nineteenth century witnesses a slow and surreptitious shift from a mimetic conception of literature to its performative conception. Especially around 1850, artists seem to become less and less interested in expressing something in literature rather than in creating something as literature. It is precisely this move from (mimetic) world-making to (performative) text-making that turns the artist into a “modern” artist (Baudelaire), liberating him/her from the constraints of ‘reality’ and endowing him/her with the options of exploring art’s medialities. The article proceeds from what is called the “thing-poem” (Dinggedicht), trying to show its twofold nature ‒ both as an artefact depicting an object and as a composition making one. Then it moves backward to explore the constructive mechanisms of textuality with regard to the Parnassian movement (and even John Keats’s poetry), as well as forward to show how later generations engage with ‘things’ not so much in order to represent but rather to present them. Finally, a similar development is traced in narratives, which develop from the mimeticism of descriptions to the foregrounding of the performative qualities of prose. This, however, includes a much greater risk of falling prey to the recuperating attempts to reintegrate the text-making into a conventionalized mimetic reading, expecting, and finding, a fragmented and contingent, ‘absurd’ world.