Jaime Robles’ essay on Brenda Coultas is part of a collection of essays currently being edited and compiled by Elizabeth Robinson and Jennifer Phelps. The essays in this volume, Quo Anima, consider innovative contemporary poetry by women in relation to questions of mysticism and spirituality.
In The Body in Pain, Elaine Scarry puts forth two interlocking theories. The first, that pain eliminates speech, and that the greater pain becomes the more it defies language and description, and thereby “undoes” the world for the human sufferer. For the most part, her theory discusses pain as it appears in its most extreme form: in war and in torture. Scarry seldom, however, talks about the battles that exist on psychological levels: the wars of class, sex or racial difference, although those are implicit in her argument. Nor does she emphasize the pain caused by mere existence until she begins the second half of her book, in which she unfolds her second theory: that human imagination is an endlessly bountiful creator that works counter to the unspeakableness of pain.
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