Re-Reading John Keene III

In the final post of this particular installment, I want to mention why these “reading” and “re-reading” posts exist. I learned to “read” as a Christian: to memorize scripture, to return to the same passages over and over again, to learn what some call hermeneutics. I learned that to love God was the same as to love the Word: In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the word was God. Reading and re-reading the bible taught me how to read and re-read as an act of love.

For me, reading is always re-reading. Sometimes I’m looking for the easy slide to expected resolution, or the re-encounter with language, or hunting for a feeling I once experienced, or simply hanging out with language. Reading is also where I learn to think, as I follow sound and sense and music and figure and feeling, and feeling. I want to go where books take me: down the rabbit hole, around the dark corner, into hidden crevices, up the beanstalk, into free jazz, and cruising on libidinal streets. I read and re-read to follow a path, and sometimes, to imagine one.

Let’s call this love.

And so the final section of Annotations.

I arrive at and dwell in this final section with a great sense of relief: the sentences are longer, the narrative less taut, if no less fraught, than in the second section. Something is looser, more possible, in “the autumn of his childhood.” Reading describes itself as pleasure:

Seen properly as a field of multeities, characterized by the presence of so many disjunctions, one might learn to appreciate this experience if only for the intense polysemic pleasures that it offers.


Pronunciation: Brit. /mʌlˈtiːᵻti/ , /mʌlˈteɪᵻti/ , U.S. /məlˈtiᵻdi/ , /məlˈteɪᵻdi/
Forms: 18 multëity, 18– multeity.
Etymology: < classical Latin multus many (see multi- comb. form) + -eity suffix.
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1. The quality or condition of being multiple, or of consisting of many parts; manifoldness.

1814 S. T. Coleridge Princ. Genial Crit. iii, The Philosopher of the later Platonic, or Alexandrine School, named the triangle the first-born of beauty, it being the first and simplest symbol of multëity in unity.
1817 S. T. Coleridge Biogr. Lit. (1847) I. ii. xii. 279 The conveniency of the scholastic phrase the kind with the abstraction of degree, as for instance multeity instead of multitude.
1881 F. Y. Edgeworth Math. Psychics 50 That continuity of fluid, that multeity of atoms which constitute the foundations of the uniformities of Physics.
1891 B. F. Westcott Ess. 170 The central idea of the sacrament is placed in unity realised in multeity.
1959 Tulane Stud. in Eng. 9 53 His profound sense of the simultaneous oneness and multeity of life.
1989 Amer. Lit. 61 494 Kinnell's poetry expresses in an ever-changing series of antitheses: unity and multeity, kinship and separation, and self-dispersal and self-autonomy.
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†2. As a count noun: a thing consisting of many individual parts or members. Obs.

1836 Fraser's Mag. 13 738 A sonnet consists of fourteen lines. What magic lies within that limitary multeity!
1894 19th Cent. Apr. 633 (note) [History] tells only of the conflict of opposed multeities of men with organisation of each multeity for its hostile purpose.


Pronunciation: Brit. /ˌpɒlɪˈsiːmɪk/ , U.S. /ˌpɑliˈsimɪk/
Etymology: < either polysemia n. or polysemy n. + -ic suffix. Compare French polysémique (1952). Compare earlier polysemous adj. Compare also semic adj.(Show Less)
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Of or relating to polysemy; having several meanings, exhibiting polysemy.

1930 Soc. Pure Eng. Tract xxxiv. 463 Even the names of concrete things are nearly always polysemic, though this may not be perceptible until we compare them with corresponding words in other languages. The word leg, for instance, may be applied to the supports of a table or chair, and the legs of an insect in English, but not in French.
1954 Eng. Stud. 35 170 The cropping up of new senses may lead to polysemic conflicts, causing older senses to disappear.
1976 G. Steiner in D. Villiers Next Year in Jerusalem 67 The elaborate investigations of the Kabbalists into the polysemic nature of the written word.
1998 Euralex '98 Proc. I. ii. 61 Thus, dotted types in the hierarchy express relations that generally hold between different senses of polysemic words, such as the relation observed in container nouns between the container and the containee.


In which affect becomes a guide and source, but to what: all, and nothing.

It has been a few weeks since I taught Annotations, and so my own reading and re-reading now come from a different place: as a writer, not a teacher, as a learner, not an explicator. Annotations gave me permission when I needed it. It haunts my sentences, my syntax, my possibilities, though the fractures remain my own.

This, perhaps, is the greatest lesson I take from it:

Such expansive lyricism might be worthy of reprobation were not the very phenomenon of our lives a boundless source of poetry.


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