Heijinian’s My Life as “Our Life”

The new sentence is an interesting literary strategy in addressing the ever-present issue of correctly, if not as accurately, depicting life itself. Life is a culmination of fragments; experiences, emotions, interpretations, conversations.  All of these elements are what make up the human experience, what construct the consciousness, and these are ironically completely individual but intricately woven together to create a unique web of perceptions.  The new sentence method of writing tackles the issue of accurate depiction in attempting to visually reflect the weaving together of this linear expression. Life, similar to the writing process, is experienced in a linear fashion, with a constant building of tension and relation to previous experiences;  in the writing process, this is experienced in terms of context.

Lyn Heijinian expresses this building of tension well in his work My Life. He relies heavily on the reader projecting his own emotional experiences onto his purposely vague yet ultimately familiar prose. “You spill the sugar when you lift the spoon,” Heijinian writes. This usage of second person immediately involves the reader in the prose, forcing the reader to place himself in the scene depicted. This is such a regular situation, one that everyone has mechanically done numerous times in their life, but it is ambiguous enough that there is room for the reader to apply prior experience to set them into the scene.

Heijinian follows this statement with a description of his father, which familiarizes the reader and allows for further projection of whatever emotional context the reader attaches to the word “father.”  He continues to do this throughout the poem by inserting random, fragmented experiences involving members of his family; these situations depicted, such as his mother breaking her arm while compressing the trash, or his grandmother pulling down the shades, all seem to be detail –oriented but ambiguous enough to  allow for further application of personal interpretation. This, coupled with the seemingly unnecessary statements, such as “he broke the radio silence,” or the sunning of an infant in a bonnet, truly express the “new sentence” writing process in explaining the overall experience  of consciousness with a culmination of fragments and experiences.

  1. Why, then, do you think that Heijinian mentions the German goldsmith?
  2. What is the significance of the line “A blue room is always dark”?
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