Elaine Scarry's Dreaming by the Book promises to be a good read. She has done her research. She writes well. She thinks formidably. I'll surely enjoy critically engaging with this text.
Does poetry speak to us of a tacit dimension of language? If there is a special case of language called poetry, a genre distinct from others that we can isolate and consider separately from our investigations of language, does it yet tell us of a reality, a vivid reality, of all speech and its house, language? My prejudice is clear. I am surrounded by poetrybut perhaps I delude myself. By no stretch am I an expert on what constitutes poetry.
While Scarry holds that "imaginary vivacity comes about by reproducing the deep structure of perception" (p. 9), I suggest that poetic juice flows from the chthonic prosody of all tongues, iteratively one imagines. Assonance and consonance are the stuff of Scarry's prose. Perhaps also her thoughts. However, she claims that "verbal art. . . .has no acoustical features" (p. 5, her emphasis). Can it be said without controversy that verbal art (in the limited sense in which Scarry defines it) has no acoustical features but it echos the spoken word? The idea may be backwards and upsidedown too. Scarry defines poetry (apparently deciding for us that the model for all poetry must be written) as a "sequence of printed signs [which] contains a set of instructions for the production of actual sound; the page itself does not sing but exists forever on the verge of song" (p. 7). Poetic language does not echo the spoken word but formulates it. It presages. Obviously text is a possibility of language, as a way of irrealizing speech. Are any traces of this possibility already inscribed in the spoken word? What about possibilities for following instructions?
Dreams. What happens to the spoken word in dreams? Is the word in dreams interpreted through hearing? Does the prosody of a sequence of dream words have no acoustical features? Are these words merely submerged?