Monday, 31 May 2010

'Co-Temporary' and 'Contemporary'

In the seventeenth century, and so for the next one hundred years, a particular English formation changed “contemporary” to “co-temporary.” This subtle change fascinates, and holds meaning for the kind of inquiry we’re trying to make. Suddenly, rather than a word that recognizes a temporal togetherness, we have a word that directly implies time in a more complex manner. We are “co-temporary.” [...] Like Plato’s ideal dialectic, like his ideal love, to be co-temporary recognizes that the work of poetry is of the moment in the most radically present way possible. Poetry’s oral tradition keeps this notion from being lost — the magic of a poetry reading is not the force of the author’s personality, but the unique insight gained in hearing mortal words in a mortal mouth. The reading emphasizes this point: Right now I am alive, you are alive, and these words are alive between us. This unity, this being contemporary, is my concern here.
Dan Beach-Quick, 'Co-Temporary/ Contemporary: on Martin Corless-Smith' (Jacket 25, February 2004)

(Read the whole thing at Jacket Magazine by clicking the title of this post)

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