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Tan, I. (2022). The sonic dis-ordering of aesthetic structure in Wallace Stevens's 'The idea of order at Key West' and John Burnside's The dumb house. Scottish Literary Review, 14(2), 149-169.
Scottish Literary Review
This essay examines the intertextual links between the American modernist poet Wallace Stevens and the Scottish contemporary novelist John Burnside through a reading of the concept of aesthetic order in the poem 'The Idea of Order at Key West' and the novel The Dumb House. I argue that both poem and novel position the significance of order as crucial in according art the ability to creatively confer meaning and coherence upon external reality, while imbuing a critical consciousness towards order which suggests that it may be a violent imposition of a limited perspective upon subjectivities and forms of life which exceed and disrupt the very narrowness of that vision. Through an exploration of the troping of sound, music and singing in both texts, I examine how aurality orchestrates a dialogue between linguistic order and construction, and what deconstructs conceptual distinctions between corporeality and spirituality, human and animal, and self and other. This comparative reading of Burnside and Stevens unpacks modes of hermeneutical understanding that displace the purely anthropocentric and heteronormative so as to enliven a liminal presentation of aesthetic order that constantly reformulates and rearticulates its own boundaries and limitations, sustaining new critical conversations across metaphysical and social distinctions and hierarchies.
1756-5634 (print)
2050-6678 (online)
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