hatstuck snarl

theoretically, a hairstyling salon


Hi Monicas,

every one of yous. Here is my own dreadful block quote inclusion to the tight hat - (formatting be damned, I might add)

To be sure, Emerson uses his lens metaphors to examine differing objective abstractions. They appear in separate essays, one essay of which serves to praise Persian poetry as an exotic source of influence and knowledge, the other of which grapples more profoundly with personal limitations and the impossible but inevitable peculiarity of being. Although these lenses seem superficially in opposition, both essays however become lenses which dialectically converge upon time and space as poiesis. As metaphors, each lens figuratively pushes the reader toward considering the context of personal knowledge as characteristically limited. Nevertheless, there is no greater making than that which as one who is being. This being is unavoidably both obscure and concrete, and this is why it is not meaning which is predominantly made. This being is always a paradox to one who thinks and intuits, and this paradox pushes Emerson toward theorizing poetics as singular (to) knowing. This poiesis then is his lens wherein oppositions coexist.

Stanley Cavell builds a powerful argument for considering Emerson’s essays as uniquely an “American” philosophical inquiry. His observation, however, in “Thinking of Emerson,” that the “prose” of both Emerson and Thoreau “is a battle [...] not to become poetry—a battle specifically to remain in conversation with itself, answerable to itself. (So they do write dialogues, not monologues, after all.),” seems at once astute and evasive (17). Poetry has the capability to surround words by a palpable and meaningful silence which the detailed determination of philosophy necessarily lacks; and, furthermore, while philosophy seeks to deal with that which is present as based upon past as example, Emerson’s poiesis deals specifically with what is present as preemptive. As the more recent writer who most nearly epitomizes Emerson’s example, Charles Olson opens “The Present is Prologue” essay with this same strict equation; albeit updated, the staccato emphasis upon personal readerly responsibility is identical:

My shift is that I take it the present is prologue, not the past. The instant, therefore. Is its own interpretation, as a dream is, and any action—a poem, for example. Down with causation (except, see below). And yrself: you, as the only reader and mover of the instant. You, the cause. No drag allowed, on either. Get on with it. (205)

Although Emerson is verbose and insistent, his prose always builds solidly upon poetic techniques. It becomes thus a philosophical marriage, and thus again and always poiesis. Emerson’s texts act upon the reader to also become sentiently a maker. As Byrd emphasizes, “The ultimate goal [...] is, as Walt Whitman realized, for everyone to be a poet—that is to say, for everyone to language a world that provides orientation for the community” (29). This realization on Whitman’s part is synergistic to every word Emerson wrote. Emerson knew and confronted bureaucratic stagnation and the attendant monopolization of intellectual currency, and his example stands as a challenge to transcend and transform such debilitating systems. Only poetry roams freely within this paradox of being, but it is a being which resist passivity. It is one in the same with active engagement. Only poetry converges with being as a place where logic can never intrude. Logic is left to circle outside while piling up words. It is a totalitarian and intellectual wreckage which stuffs more and more words into an ever-present vast silence. Logic has built the globally corporate world which we have today, and it is thus unlikely that any human logic will clean up the mess it has made.

Poiesis as such matters little to whether the poem as a discrete unit exists either as original or in translation. Such misconception springs from a desire to capture the ineffable and then place that like a bird into a categorical cage. Poems today are so to speak made and often even written to sing for the supper of securing a faculty position. To capture the ineffable is always a denial of the present, but because current pedagogical method is based upon this denial, the current extension of a state made executive capitalist educational institution also denies Emerson by marketing him as a person of quaint sound bites. The truth is that his words seek both spiritual and material upheaval, an anarchic revision of the self who is reader into one who thus initiates positive action:

Where do we find ourselves? In a series of which we do not know the extremes, and believe that it has none. We wake and find ourselves on a stair; there are stairs below us, which we seem to have ascended; there are stairs above us, many a one, which go upward and out of sight. But the Genius which, according to the old belief, stands at the door by which we enter, and gives us the lethe to drink, that we may tell no tales, mixed the cup too strongly, and we cannot shake off the lethargy now at noonday. Sleep lingers all our lifetime about our eyes, as night hovers all day in the boughs of the fir-tree. All things swim and glitter. Our life is not so much threatened as our perception. (Experience 198)

This final sentence urges the reader to resist that which would deaden the perceptions and so result in base subsistence as just one amongst a multitude of zombies. The university system as a compartmentalized extension of capital training pod seriously inhibits and threatens human as a mammal of perception and sentience. One has to wonder whether people are willing or capable of understanding Emerson at all. If he were taken at his word, it is difficult to believe current educational practice as formulaic curriculum periodization could continue per se, and this presents huge difficulties in writing about Emerson within this pervasive and suffocating institutional milieu. All that remains is directly to defy our contextualizing taboos; the alternative is to capitulate to despair and the human logic machine which continues to feed it.


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