In this groundbreaking volume, Krzysztof Ziarek rethinks modern experience by bringing together philosophical critiques of modernity and avant-garde poetry. Ziarek explores, through selective readings of avant-garde poetry, the key aspects of the radical critique of experience: technology, everydayness, event, and sexual difference. To that extent, The Historicity of Experience is less a book about the avant-garde than a critique of experience through the avant-garde. Ziarek reads the avant-garde in dialogue with the work of some of the major critics of modernity (Martin Heidegger, Walter Benjamin, Jean-François Lyotard, and Luce Irigaray) to show how avant-garde experiments bear critically on the issue of modern experience and its technological organization.
The four poets Ziarek considers—Gertrude Stein, Velimir Khlebnikov, Miron Biaoszewski, and Susan Howe—demonstrate the broad reach of and variety of forms taken by the avant-garde revision of experience and aesthetics. Moreover, this quartet illustrates how the main operative concepts and strategies of the avant-garde underpinned the practices of canonical writers. A profound philosophical meditation on language, modernity, and the everyday, The Historicity of Experience offers a fundamental reconceptualization of the avant-garde in relation to experience.