Jonathan Stalling Reviews Jacob Edmond’s A Common Strangeness
Jacob Edmond opens the work with a shot across the bow of more conventional two-tradition comparative studies of poetry by referencing what now seems like an anachronistic Fredric Jameson criticizing Bob Perelman's poem "China" written at the time when China still appeared largely outside academia's western/US frames of reference. If Jameson saw LANGUAGE writing practices like Perelman's poem as symptomatic of the fragmentation of the "cultural logic of late capitalism," what, Edmond leads us on to wonder, would he make of poetics of the hyper-capitalism of twenty-first century Beijing, Shanghai, or Shenzhen? This is to say, Edmond starts off with a critical dialogue that foregrounds the radical global transformations that have taken place under the feet of scholars and poets during the 1980s (USSR crumbles and China "rises" while America lounges forward into a prolonged post-structuralized culture war, etc.). Edmond notes that the global dislocations that have taken root following the Cold War "mean not just separation or estrangement from home and nation, but an aesthetic that question the solidity of the relationship between word and world through writing that foregrounds its own strangeness" (6). Therefore, Edmond moves from the sociological strangeness of late-late capitalism to the aesthetic strangeness of avant-garde language practices and conceptualist technologies citing these latter as the most appropriate texts for decoupling the cold-war binary oscillation between east-west, global-local, and same-different which he argues continue to dominate the critical frames used by comparative and world literary studies today. Instead, he points toward what he defines as a "common strangeness."