Date of Award
Martha Carpentier, Ph.D
Elizabeth Redwine, Ph.D
Seamus Heaney, Deleuze and Guattari, Nomadic, Recollection, Space, Ireland
Seamus Heaney’s acknowledgement of the names of the places in his poems serve as a map, but a map that demonstrates the deterritorializing nature of memory and therefore meaning itself. The places become points of departure, places of transit, motivators of unstable memories, and catalysts for changing perspectives. Heaney’s use of location anticipates a future that is not bogged down by static meaning as the speakers in the poems face their own memories clouded by history, politics, and myth. Grappling with connotation, though, does not offer any closure from the multiplicity of meaning that the naming or visiting of certain locations present. The poems serve not to solely dismantle Felix Deleuze and Gilles Guattari’s “striated space,” but to point out that no space can be, or will ever be, “striated” to a certain extent. By acknowledging the basic authority of naming, these specific location poems work to diminish the faulty, assumed power of a space that has been named. Heaney’s poetry has the ability to change “striated space” to “smooth space,” but his method sheds more light on the assumed power of named places. By exploring the instability of these so-called “striated,” closed off spaces, Heaney’s poetry moves beyond the deterritorialization process, the nomadic movement of Deleuze and Guattari, by demonstrating that space is never fully, or stably, “striated.”
Rather than taking on a certain responsibility through his poetry, Heaney’s milieu works to empower, equally, the perspectives of his readers. Through the act of writing, Heaney demonstrates that the power of authority does not lie within one force, but flows through various sources, all of which equally construct and deconstruct place and meaning in Ireland. Heaney’s poetry does not seek to solely create a new system; rather it illuminates the faultiness of the static system of meaning that is already in place. In a sense, there is no need to subvert what is already weak, to openly challenge authority that is not worthy of battle. By reading through Heaney’s work, we expose the allusion that static, “striated” space is stable. Revealing the multiplicities of meaning present in Ireland, a new way to “un-code” is revealed. The only true way to consider land and meaning is to realize the impossibility of singular meaning, and by doing so, we, like the subject in “Postscript,” can be “caught off guard,” as our understanding of memory and meaning is blown open.
Hatch, Norah Toomey, "“Names portable as alter stones”: Nomadic Movement and Recollection in Seamus Heaney’s Poetry" (2016). Seton Hall University Dissertations and Theses (ETDs). 2180.