Ecocriticism and the Poiesis of Form: Holding on to Proteus demonstrates how a fractal imagination helps one hold the form of a poem within the reaches of Deep Time, and it explores the kinship between the hazy, liminal moment when Sound becomes Syllable and the hazy, liminal moment when the sage energy of the Atom made a leap toward the gaze of the first cell, to echo Merwin. Moe distills his methodology as follows: "My work?—I point," asserted the aphorism. "That’s what I do." To point, the project integrates a wide range of interdisciplinary ideas—including biosemiotics, fractals, phi, trauma theory, the Mandelbrot Set, hyperobjects, meditative chants, Goethe’s morphology, Ramanujan’s summation, a spiderweb’s sonic properties, and Thoreau’s sense of the plant-like burgeoning force of an Atom—in order to open up multiple trajectories. In this context, the volume foregrounds the insights of poets/storytellers including Hillman, Snyder, Anzaldúa, EEC, okpik, Whitman, Dickinson, Gladding, Melville, Morrison, and Toomer, for they are most attentive to that liminal moment when the vibratory hum in language, and in the cosmos, turns kinetic. As this volume draws on a wide range of writers from many backgrounds, it allows the myriad voices to engage with one another across differences in race, gender, and ethnicity. These writers show us how, to echo Dickinson, the "Freight / Of a delivered Syllable - " can split and how the energy unleashed came from, and points us back toward, the energy (un)making the forms of Gaia. The starting point for discussing the energy of a poem can no longer begin with the human; rather, Holding on explores how the poem’s energy is but a sliver of a hyperobject "massively distributed" throughout the cosmos—a sage energy that brings forth form.
Table of Contents
Note on EEC’s Name and on Citing the Poetry of Dickinson and Whitman
Part I: Origins; or, "the bud of the bud"
The "turn / ing;edge,of / life": An Introduction
Chapter 1: Protean Energy; or, The Squeeze & the Turn in Moby-Dick
Chapter 2: Biosemiotics and Jody Gladding’s Translations from Bark Beetle
Chapter 3: Vibrational Poiesis of Insects and Arachnids
Chapter 4: "Electrons / swoon in the sword fern": Plants, Seeds, and Brenda Hillman’s Thoreauvian Attentiveness
Part II: Energy Unleashed
Chapter 5: The "worship of kinesis" in the Poetry of Emily Dickinson and Sylvia Plath
Chapter 6: Machines, Protean Mimicry, and the Organic Energy of Writing Technologies
Chapter 7: "plant Magic dust": A Look at the "Making obsession"
Chapter 8: Holding on
Chapter 9: The Squeeze of Trauma: "protean being" & 500 Years of Pressure
Part III: E = mc2, the Fractal Cosmos, and the Poem
Chapter 10: Mathematics and the Protean Sublime
Chapter 11: Protean Energy as Hyperobject: Language and the Cosmos
Chapter 12: Gaia, the Atom, and the Poem
Protean Poiesis: An Afterword
Aaron M. Moe is an assistant professor of English and Environmental Studies at Saint Mary’s College, Notre Dame. He earned his Ph.D. in English from Washington State University. His work on poetics, zoopoetics, and ecocriticism has appeared in several journals including ISLE, Journal of Ecocriticism, Humanimalia, and the Walt Whitman Quarterly as well as book chapters in Texts, Animals, Environments: Zoopoetics and Ecopoetics, The Edinburgh Companion to Animal Studies, and The Educational Significance of Human and Non-Human Animal Interactions. In 2014, his Zoopoetics: Animals and the Making of Poetry became a crucial step in the unfolding exploration of the energy behind the forms of poiesis.