Book Review: Intercultural Geopoetics in Kenneth White’s Open World

A strange kind of predestination seems to have presided over the writing of this book on Kenneth White and Geopoetics. Its author, Mohammed Hashas, is an ex-student of Professor Khalid Haji, who was himself a student under Kenneth White at the Sorbonne.

9781443893534An enthusiastic and open-minded reader of Kenneth White’s books, and now himself an established teacher, Hashas divides the impressive material he has assembled into three large, clear parts :

1) The principle constituent concepts of White’s work and thought : Place, Culture, World ; Poetry, Philosophy, Science ; Intellectual Nomadism.

2) Territories and trajectories, including companions on the way. For Europe : Rimbaud, Van Gogh, Nietzsche, Hölderlin, Heidegger. For America : Emerson, Whitman, Thoreau. For Asia, various Indian, Chinese and Japanese thinkers and poets (we might mention Nagarjuna, Chuang Tzu, Li Po, Matsuo Basho). With, in addition, arabic literature, into which White has made sporadic incursions, via historical, navigational and philosophical texts (Ibn Khaldun, Avicenne…).

3) From Nomadism to Open World. Here the analysis concentrates in a precise and detailed manner on :

a) Nomadizing : Listening in to Land and mind, with reference to White’s waybooks, recounting physical, intellectual, and poetic travels in Europe, America and Asia (Guido’s MapThe Blue RoadThe Wild Swans) ;

b) Dwelling : into the White World, which concentrates on White’s residences in several places : Paris, the Pyrenees, Brittany (books such as Letters from Gourgounel, or House of Tides).

c) Writing : From Landscape-Mindscape to Wordscape. Here the accent is how White translates experience and thought into the three types of book he writes : prose narrative, essay, poem.

All of these developments are remarkably documented and illustrated by numerous quotations, both prose and verse.

The study itself is very usefully complemented by two texts. One, a preface, remarkable in its unadorned clarity, by Professor Khalid Hajji, President of the Brussels Forum of Wisdom and World Peace, and an interesting postface by Professor F. Corrado who teaches Arabic language and culture at the university in Rome where Hashas himself now teaches political science. A detailed bio-bibliography of Kenneth White completes the whole.

In a handsome format, this volume contains an in-depth study by Hashas, who never forgets approaches by earlier interpreters, of a body of intellectual and poetic work that is one of the most intensive and extensive of our time.

By Michèle DUCLOS, The International Institute of Geopoetics

To find out more about Intercultural Geopoetics in Kenneth White’s Open World and to buy a copy, click here.

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