This article considers Thomas A. Clark’s critical stance towards modernity embodied in: (a) the presentation of time in his work; (b) the specific ways in which it values forms of aesthetic attention; (c) its treatment of the theme of the gift. It argues that, while his poetry doesn’t engage in direct polemic, nor focus on overtly political themes, its ecopoetic underpinnings and aesthetic values have ethical and political force. It is suggested that the invocation of specific forms of attention in Clark’s work resists the quantification of human experience; that its reimagining of time critiques the discourses of instrumental efficiency; and that its celebration of the gift as a form of relation seeks to hold at bay the commodification of aesthetic values. Time and attention are interpreted here via Deleuze’s philosophy of time, expounded in Difference and Repetition and Logic of Sense; in particular the distinction between ‘generality’ and ‘repetition’ and the three syntheses of time. Art’s critical function is seen in terms of Adorno’s concept of the artwork as the ‘social antithesis of society’. T.J. Clark’s study of Poussin, which reinserts the temporality of viewing artworks into the interpretation of visual art, is considered as a model for aesthetic attention; the elements of pastoral and the theme of mortality in Poussin’s landscape painting parallels aspects of Thomas A. Clark’s work.
- Thomas A. Clark
- Gilles Deleuze