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Broadcasting Modernism$
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Debra Rae Cohen, Michael Coyle, and Jane Lewty

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780813033495

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813033495.001.0001

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Updating Baudelaire for the Radio Age

Updating Baudelaire for the Radio Age

The Refractive Poetics of “The Pleasures of Merely Circulating”

(p.257) Chapter 14 Updating Baudelaire for the Radio Age
Broadcasting Modernism

J. Stan Barrett

University Press of Florida

In Ideas of Order, abstraction becomes Wallace Stevens's mechanism for coping with his desire to be socially engaged while satisfying a much stronger desire to distance his own thinking from the public's thoughts, which Stevens strongly associated with radio. Deliberately emptying his language of content, Stevens arranges poems like “The Pleasure of Merely Circulating” as screens to block or diffuse the associations of his poetic language with the ideas and discourses continuously broadcast over America's airwaves. His poems take up the work of restoring the intersubjective distance between writer and reader that he believed radio had helped to collapse. “The Pleasures of Merely Circulating” allegorizes Stevens's response to radio. It articulates his complaint against the circulation of discourse that Stevens could not tune out in the 1930s.

Keywords:   Ideas of Order, Wallace Stevens, poetic language, discourse

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