Postmodern Games in Don Paterson
This chapter explores the paradoxes and slippages of quantifying terminology (‘nil’, ‘zero’, ‘double’) in his work. Such play keeps leading back to postmodern, and postmodernist, questions about whether there are objective principles grounding ideas of meaning and value. It raises the possibility that Paterson's poetry expresses the impossibility of raising the literary score above zero, or unlocking aesthetic language from stalemate. The chapter focuses especially on Paterson's first volume, Nil Nil, and the sense of perpetual draw, attending to the processes of measuring and numbering hinted at by Paterson's title. It then turns to God's Gift to Women, Landing Light, Rain and the books of aphorism. It also explores experiences of temporal order and disorder in Paterson, contrasting mundane, quantifying clock-time with time experienced through art and love.
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