Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
New Light on Tony Harrison$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

Edith Hall

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780197266519

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: September 2019

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197266519.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM BRITISH ACADEMY SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.britishacademy.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright British Academy, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in BASO for personal use.date: 26 October 2021

The Only Tone for Terror: Tony Harrison and the Gorgon’s Gaze

The Only Tone for Terror: Tony Harrison and the Gorgon’s Gaze

(p.205) 17 The Only Tone for Terror: Tony Harrison and the Gorgon’s Gaze
New Light on Tony Harrison

Henry Stead

British Academy

This chapter introduces the reader to Tony Harrison’s audiovisual poetry, composed for and broadcast on British television through the late 1980s and 1990s. Harrison has to date made twelve full documentary film-poems, and one film-poem feature, entitled Prometheus (1998). They all brim with the darker side of European history, current affairs and class politics, and explore what limits of what poetry might do, and how it might do it, in the televisual age. The chapter sets Harrison’s film poetry in its cultural context by paying attention to the poet’s major influences in the experimental medium (John Grierson’s GPO film unit and early Soviet filmmaking), before homing in on his 1992 film-poem The Gaze of the Gorgon as a species of social psychotherapy. The act of gazing at the Medusa-like and thus usually petrifying image of twentieth-century atrocity is offered here not as a ‘dope’ to mankind, but a stimulant towards its cure. The film-poem draws explicitly on Nietzsche’s concept of ‘Dionysiac art’ and Simone Weil’s pacifist notion of ‘force’, and Robert Jay Lifton’s work on trauma and the holocaust. Harrison’s hugely ambitious and uniquely accessible film-poems are currently publically unavailable. Are they the ‘missing link’ in the evolution of contemporary film and video poetry?

Keywords:   Film-poem, Film/poem, Tony Harrison, The Gaze of the Gorgon, Friedrich Nietzsche, Simone Weil, Robert Jay Lifton, Andrei Tarkovsky, John Grierson, GPO Film Unit, Night-Mail, Heinrich Heine

British Academy Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs , and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us.