AustLit logo
Issue Details: First known date: 2016... 2016 Precarious Decencies : Negotiating Creative (Im)mortalities, in Life, Together
The material on this page is available to AustLit subscribers. If you are a subscriber or are from a subscribing organisation, please log in to gain full access. To explore options for subscribing to this unique teaching, research, and publishing resource for Australian culture and storytelling, please contact us or find out more.

AbstractHistoryArchive Description

'This paper takes up the question of what might hinder the collaborative impulse among artists and specifically poets, and offers—as one possible answer—the complication posed by the urge of an artist for immortality, or for their (individual) name to live on. The paper begins by returning to a moment in Plato, namely that of the Symposium and its observations concerning the connection between poiesis (making) and a questing after immortality. Contrasting with what seems like Plato's broadly positive framing, the paper takes up a second reading of immortality (or the 'will-to-live') found in an early text of the Yogic canon, that of Patanjali's Yoga Sutras. In this second text, written somewhat later than Plato's, the will-to-live is framed otherwise, as one of five afflictions that can be 'made thin' by practice. The paper's wager is that, viewed in this way, as an affliction, the will-to-live (or urge for immortality) deserves consideration as a hindrance to the impulse towards collaboration. Noting, however, that in the poiesis of writing poetry, where there is both the making of things and the action of making things, this creative constellation always contains the tempering solution to its own inherent lures. Writing, although providing fuel for immortal appetites (due to what it makes), also works to temper the worst of this same impulse via the contribution of practice—as dedication, craft and community-as-practice. The practice of writing, therefore, is already at play, and can be emphasised explicitly for any poet or maker who also wants to be able to want to collaborate. The practice of writing, then, and its turn away from investments in identity, works to thin out the more destructive face of an urge for a dubious eternity that can eclipse our ability to work together creatively with others in this life. ' (Publication abstract)


  • Epigraph: '... One day you will do things for me that you hate. That is what it means to be a family.' What [my mother] does not clutch is that I already do things for her that I hate. I listen to her when she talks to me. I resist complaining about my pygmy allowance. And did I mention that I do not spleen her nearly so much as I desire to? But I do not do these things because we are a family. I do them because they are common decencies. That is an idiom that the hero taught me. I do them because I am not a big fucking asshole. That is another idiom that the hero taught me. – Jonathan Safran Foer, Everything is Illuminated, 2002, p.2

Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of

Last amended 15 Apr 2016 13:33:04 Precarious Decencies : Negotiating Creative (Im)mortalities, in Life, Togethersmall AustLit logo Axon : Creative Explorations