"I am not my parts. I am one system": Charles Olson's memetic methodology

Stone, Derrick Jason (1997) "I am not my parts. I am one system": Charles Olson's memetic methodology. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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    Available under License - The author retains copyright ownership and moral rights in this thesis. Neither the thesis nor substantial extracts from it may be printed or otherwise reproduced without the author's permission.
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Abstract

Charles Olson, the American poet, wrote poetry that is, to the neophyte reader, stunningly difficult. While Olson insists that the poetry is not obscure, the reader faces a task most other poetry does not insist upon. In this thesis I postulate a critical methodology whereby Olson's poetry can be seen as understandable, as well as comprehensible. This methodology is derived from neo-Darwinian thought, and especially memes and memetics. -- When looking at Olson's writings one cannot overlook his insistence upon finding a "new way." This "new way" is developed on the ruins of Platonic Rationalism. In order to overthrow Platonic Rationalism, Olson uses memes and memetics to create a cultural virus which will enter the cultural matrix, destroy that system, and create a new "humanism." Part of Olson's means for achieving this "original condition" is through the poetic methodology, he calls "objectism." By appealing to the early poem "La Preface," memetics better describes what Olson means by an object, and accurately characterizes "objectism" as an alternate means of communication. "The Kingfishers," one of Olson's most famous poems, continues this memetic methodology and illustrates how a coherent cultural meme-complex can be fashioned out of disparate fragments from heterogeneous cultures.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/7093
Item ID: 7093
Additional Information: Bibliography: leaves [90]-95.
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > English Language and Literature
Date: July 1997
Date Type: Submission
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Olson, Charles, 1910-1970--Criticism and interpretation; Memetics

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