Can a poem disobey Derrida’s absolutist rule ‘there is nothing outside the text’?
Reading poems from other traditions help see through the assertiveness of postmodern ideology.
Li Po: ‘Staying the night at Summit-Top temple,/ You can reach out and touch the stars.// I venture no more than a low whisper,/ Afraid I’ll wake the people of heaven.’
(David Hinton, Classical Chinese Poetry, 176.)
The behavior that ‘goes with’ a belief in the ‘stars’ is performed in the narrative AND the inner decorum of the poet. The peace of mind assumed here is conveyed by that low whisper and the ‘fear’ of crossing a cosmic line.
Li Po was ‘culturally’ aware of what was inside and outside Ch’an poetics. Complex irony is not necessarily ‘deconstructive.’
Derrida’s hermeneutics is so reductive it would corrupt our capacity to ‘read’ and enjoy this poem and many like it.