Francis Webb



‘Crazed recuperant earthling’: The Use of Humour to Portray Psychosis in Three Australian Poems

The word ‘psychosis’ is derived from Greek, and etymologically means ‘life of the spirit’, or ‘to give animation to soul and mind’. This sense of ‘life’ or ‘animation’ has manifested through literatures of madness in a plethora of movements and forms. We’ve had the comically deluded protagonist of Don Quixote; the lunatic fool on the Renaissance stage; the manic villain in the superhero film; and, in the contemporary Australian context, caricatures of madness in films such as Cosi and Mental.

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Destroy Kansas to Reveal Oz: from John Ashbery to Francis Webb

Frank O’Hara’s ‘To a Poet’ seems to encapsulate the New York School’s disregard for an Imagist poetics in which the natural object is always the adequate symbol: ‘when the doctor comes to / me he says, ‘No things but in ideas’’. The cornerstone edicts of Anglo-American Modernism, as contained in Pound’s ‘A Retrospect’, are seemingly casually dismissed in this phrase, along with the accepted prescriptions of Doctor Williams; a critical schism is established in Modernist poetry, with the materialism of Pound-Williams on the one hand and post-moderns such as John Ashbery placed in an alternate lineage with Wallace Stevens as adherents of a post-Symbolist Absolute.

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