Kenneth Wain and the Lifelong Engagement with Education
5. Toward an Auto-Poetic and Postmodern Europe
Rorty ... hints towards a third kind of intellectual activity besides the constructive and therapeutic—namely the poetic, the Heideggerian “inverse of hermeneutics” involving “the attempt to interpret our familiar surroundings in the unfamiliar terms of our new inventions.”
—Kenneth Wain (2004, p. 247)
This comment by Kenneth Wain took my mind back to the time when I made my first acquaintance with him. It was through a selection of his poems in English that were to featured in an anthology by Maltese authors for which I was asked to write an introduction. The two main remarks I made oddly connect with the quoted views of Rorty in Wain’s (2004) book. First, I noted that he inserted cliché phrases together with his own fresh imagery into the texture of his language, which served to express the survival of the colonial mentality even after independence had been proclaimed. Had I not been here, characterizing Wain’s poetry as having brandings, although in converse and exacerbated format, analogous to those Rorty attributed to Heideggerian philosophy: “familiar terms” (cliché phrases) “in unfamiliar surroundings” (his own fresh imagery)?
Secondly, I noted in Wain’s verse the following:
The effect, reminiscent of the quality of the numerous inscriptions on marble tablets in Latin which often seem to hover between the pompous and the pop, has a more specific local evocativeness: the poise of words, so balanced and box-like, recalls the Maltese architectural landscape—the classical structures with the thin overlay...
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