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John Ashbery

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Top John Ashbery Articles see all

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  • Self-help for the literary set

    Self-help for the literary set
    The great theorist of psychoanalysis Jacques Lacan envisioned desire as “caught in the rails of metonymy, eternally extending toward the desire for something else.” In the rhetorical figure of metonymy, a signifier points toward something else, some other signifier it's related to; just so, desire is constantly pointing toward the next object. It's not just that desire can't be satisfied — that when you obtain the object of desire, desire simply fastens on to a new object — but that satisfaction isn't even the goal of desire in the first place. No wonder we're so miserable.
  • Rae Armantrout's probing new collection

    Rae Armantrout's probing new collection
    The only time I met the poet Rae Armantrout, a few years ago, I escorted her from her hotel to the lecture hall at the University of Chicago where she was to read. We chatted, and she mentioned that she had a new book coming out. I asked her what it was...

    Review: 'In Partial Disgrace' by Charles Newman

    Review: 'In Partial Disgrace' by Charles Newman
    TriQuarterly still serves as his calling card. Seven years after his death and nearly four decades after he stepped down as editor, Charles Newman will always be best remembered as the dashing pipe-smoker who took Northwestern University's sleepy literary...

    Review: 'My Life and My Life in the Nineties' by Lyn Hejinian

    Review: 'My Life and My Life in the Nineties' by Lyn Hejinian
    There's that John Cage quote people trot out when you call a piece of art boring — “In Zen they say: If something is boring after two minutes, try it for four. If still boring, then eight, sixteen, thirty-two, and so on. Eventually one...

    "Double Shadow: Poems" by Carl Phillips

    "Double Shadow: Poems" by Carl Phillips
    "Double Shadow: Poems" By Carl Phillips Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 58 pages, $23.00 "We're not what / either of us expected, / are we?" Carl Phillips asks in his new book, Double Shadow. It's a good question, and it's one that raises another question,...