Do writers and writers take inspiration for the titles of their works from among the folds of lines and texts that they create, or does it not necessarily come literally from within the creative text? Do they start with the address or seal it? Does the writer and writer accept that the publisher puts a title for his book?
And since the title is the threshold of the text, can there be a text without a threshold, and a book without a title, or is that not possible? What were the first titles that astonished Arab writers and touched a nerve in their souls? Is the idea of intertextuality in the title acceptable, or does the title, if placed, become the intellectual property of its writer?
Al-Jazeera Net opens this new corner “My Journey with the Title” in which Arab writers and writers talk about their stories with “The Address”, and their journey with him in writing and receiving, which is an attempt to inform the reader of some of the secrets of writing.
The guest of our session for this day is the Iraqi poet, critic, and academic residing in the United States, Hatem Al-Sakar, who enriched the Arab Library with four poetry collections and 20 critical books, at a time when his critical project is continuing, especially with regard to criticism and theorizing of the Arabic prose poem, and he also has approaches in the biography And its variants and Arabic texts, to his testimony directly.
Soraya shines on the text
In the popular saying, “The answer or the written is indicated by its address”, that is, by what is written on the cover of the letter. This is an advanced lesson in the importance of addressing as part of the directions for reading, and as an advertisement for the identity of controlled discourse. The parable alerts to the written form in which the address was written, what it reflects on the status of the sender of the message and the connotations hidden within it.
The letter and this case can be read in general, or by looking ahead to its title, which is a cover here, but it hides the secret of the message itself.
The title generator has no date or time. It is the chandelier that shines on the text, illuminating its paths, and guiding its connotations, aims and artistic merits. Sometimes he is born during the birth of a job, and sometimes it precedes it, as husbands prepare their offspring by naming. But that process is inevitably subject to the work of subconscious mechanisms that sense what the work will be like. I am not talking here about artificial clumsiness to impress – which is one of the functions of the title in studying reading directions and text thresholds – for it is an affixation that borrows without checking the possible aesthetics of the title.
It may be an imitation of an act or an implication of the name of the purpose of acculturation and the announcement of a fictitious or assumed connection with that nominal source. Now in mind flashy headlines where things are often added to foreign celebrities.
I do not think that nomenclature in critical studies specifically precedes writing, unless the author wants to use a direct appellation that discloses the “subject” of the book. And as the work is contemplated – regardless of its gender – before the achievement, the naming becomes a share in the action plan, its steps and its construction.
And publishers may take on the role of a midwife and allow themselves to change titles. This often happens in cultural journalism rather than in books. Some book publishers believe that they have the right to interfere with titles for commercial marketing purposes or to evade the whips of censorship and the eyes of censors, and they are abrogating texts if we consent to the mother of the text and a midwife to it.
Amicably, a friendly publisher might intervene, and our ancestors were the narrators and inquisitors more comfortably. They often leave their books, especially those related to the investigation of a divan or novel news without a title other than attribution to the poet. Abu Al-Ala Al-Maari prevailed with his added insight by referring to the semantics of his works and eloquently expressing their content. As in the title of his poem “Fall of the Trigger,” which includes his first poems in which his later pessimistic vision was not fully established. He wanted his reader to treat the poems as if they were sparks flying out of the trigger before they caught fire, while he presents the title of his later poems, “What is not necessary. A quarrelsome artistic vision that discloses its content by describing the work as based on the necessity of things that are not binding on the poets, but Al-Maari is bound by them in accordance with his jails and prisons in which he found himself, so he committed himself to the rhyming rhyme that exceeded the last letter to several letters.
Untitled books invite contemplation, as their authors often left them as lectures – and incomplete dialogues or diagrams -. The paradox is that there are books without authors as great as “One Thousand and One Nights” and “Risalah of the Brethren of Purity.” While there are authors without books (Socrates is the most famous). But the untitled book is a rare paradox. I recall here that the father of modern linguistics as he is known in the world, Fernand de Saussure, did not write a book, but rather lectures on linguistics collected by his students and published from a distance. Hence, its title corresponds to the fact that it was composed “General Linguistics.”
In the texts published today as very short poems or fragments and flashes and what is published in the media of communication, some poets dispense with their title because their form as transmitters through the medium suffices to define them. It is a rare occurrence and is on the way to becoming also in fashion or a proposal for the renewal of textual structures.
The matter is not intertwined, but rather following and imitation. This includes the popularity of titles that begin with “a book” plus a name or subject. And prevailed “books” in poetry in particular.
There has been an infection in poetry criticism. The critics have titled their books with titles that have been removed from the poetic discourse, and confusion may occur in some cases. Until today, I did not understand the intended title of an excellent critical book entitled like “The Stone Forest Tree” except by interpreting the contagion of poetry studied in the book.
Recipients sometimes act as publisher and midwife. So they give the book a name that prevails over its title, as its author wanted it. This happened in Ibn Khaldun’s book in history with his lengthy loud title “The Book of Lessons and the Divan of the Beginning and the News in the Knowledge of the Days of the Arabs, Persians, Berbers and their Contemporaries of those with the greatest authority.” The book did not receive much attention. Rather, its fame and spread was limited to its introduction until it became taken separately and known as the introduction.
And I did an experiment with my students at the university to test their memory of titles. More than half of them did not remember the title of Ibn Khaldun’s book that we talked about in the lectures, and we read a text from it and analyzed it.
On the other hand, most of them remembered the title of Al-Sayyab, “The Rain Song,” for its lightness and brevity, and for its poeticism that combines song and rain in addition.
Researcher Zahra Khaled, in her book titled “The Critical Books of Hatem Al-Sakr .. An Analytical Study” (Amman 2017, which is originally a master’s thesis discussed at the University of Mosul) states that the titles of my critical books are of the artistic type, justifying that by the poetic background.
The truth is that heading I have a rhetorical risk, but it is dependent on my belief that criticism is literature first, and that the aesthetics of the title that we look for in the poetic or narrative text are the same that are formed in the critical text by expanding the meaning of the text. Personally, I often combine the suggestion of intent or vision of the study, and formative anticipation of the content and the underlying direction in the critical material.
This led me to put secondary headings under the main heading, perhaps because I felt that the enigmatic title does not serve the critical approach since it is a dialogue with the critical texts.
Fingers in the hair stove
My first critical book was “Fingers in the Stove of Poetry… Suggested Introduction to Reading the Poem” (Baghdad 1984), summarizing my vision for the process of critical reading of poetry. In a rhetorical metaphor, I likened it to stretching the fingers in a fireplace, for the fingers are the critical vision, and the stove is what conceals the poem in its folds, as it lies in its body offered for reading. Just as the stove may burn the fingers of its user during his penetration into it, so reading the poem can bring trouble to the reader with the connotations it has in its folds.
Feeling the need to clarify what is meant, I added the side title, describing my work as “suggested introductions to reading the poem,” in the belief that what we present readings are only necessary, and that they are presented proposals for verification, validation and debate, and an early declaration that reading is the appropriate description of the work of the critic while analyzing the text, extracting its advantages and relevance In the poetic genre, and its possible additions or modifications to it.
In a later book, I chose “Taming the Text” as the headline, because I was intrigued by the opinion of the British critic Terry Eagleton about the task of the critic similar to the work of a tame who knows that what he tames is stronger than him, but he should not let him realize it, but rather devise ways to absorb and contain his power. The reading contract or its charter required me to place a secondary title which is “A Study of Textual Analysis in Contemporary Criticism – Procedures and Methodologies.” As if the secondary titles are prices we pay for our obedience to the desire for eloquent figurative representation and literary confirmation of criticism.
My use of suggestive connotations in heading doubled when I published my book on the prose poem “The Butterfly’s Dream”. It needs an explanation that only those who read the introduction to the book can catch its contents. I added the subtitle under it “The inner rhythm and textual characteristics of the prose poem” to demystify the title that I meant that In the consciousness of her book, the prose poem is no longer distinguished between being prose that has become poetry or poetry tomorrow in prose, in contrast with the Chinese legend that talks about a girl who dreamed that she was a butterfly, and then she identified with her dream. As a girl.
“The forbidden fruit”
During my work in Yemen, I received publications from Iraqi colleagues that I dealt critically, and then I collected the studies in a booklet, which I called “Baghdad Post”. I was surprised after its publication that there is a work translated into Arabic with this address that I did not read. The connotation of the title was a suggestive linking me to the writers of my country, and it turned out that that link had turned into a mail that attracted me with its content.
The title may announce my social convictions as naming one of my last publications, “The Forbidden Fruit,” which is also about the prose poem. In it I expressed, with an allegorical risk, my belief that the prose poem remained the forbidden fruit in the poetry tree. And it was necessary to have a side title that clarifies the content because the aesthetics of the title should not creep into erasing its topic, whose advertisement is a right of the reader, according to the contract or charter of reading between the recipient and the author. So I added a side title which is “Theoretical Introductions and Applications to the Prose Poem”.
The title remained a guide in writing, and a means of analyzing, interpreting and aesthetic taste in reading, a method that does not work to justify saying: Every creature of his name has a share. The throw may be far from the goal and the names will be absent.