Justin Clemens writes poetry and prose. He is currently working on a book about mythic violence in contemporary Australian poetry with Ali Alizadeh. He teaches at Melbourne University.

Return to the Palindrome of the Real

This essay is concerned with how rhetorical claims concerning 'the real' or a 'return to the real' almost invariably find themselves caught up in specious repetitions of one kind or another. Having offered a series of examples thereof and arguments thereagainst, the essay turns to an examination of an ancient writerly algorithm, the palindrome. Several crucial features of the palindrome are identified and described, and the claim that the palindrome paradoxically offers a real 'real through line' is justified: in fact, the palindrome is shown to be 'a fragment of the real.'