Heather McHugh, 1981
POETRY MISCELLANY: The notion of difference seems crucial for you, at least in A World of Difference. It is curious, too, that "difference" has become a vogue word in contemporary thought to signify a philosophical idea that marks both self-division and self-definition -- a separation from the self and from others opposed to, say, a naive transcendentalism or a desire for identity. I think, for example, of "The Impressionist," which plays off likeness and distinction, where a simple act "makes all / the difference." I think also of the emphasis on discrete moments in a poem like "When the Future Is Black," where, you say, "we make / a world of difference." Or we could refer to a poem like "Brightness," where specifics cannot be summed up. Could we begin by talking about this idea?
HEATHER MCHUGH: My first and Francophiliac instinct is to pose the question as a choice between opposites: viva la differénce, or plus ça change plus c'est la même chose. But I mistrust binomial constructions; I suspect my two minds of making the world in their own image and my two hands of grasping only what can be weighed on one or on the other. So I generally find myself working to imagine opposites resolvable; and it's become an academic commonplace to suggest it -- that mind is body, and vice versa. I remind myself, black and white have something in common (both are absolute). So, perhaps, yes and no are reconcilable. It's this maybeist in me that wants to vote cest la même chose. This position has the ring of experience's