If I am going to be arrogant enough to model my discourse
on Wittgenstein's, I probably should be willing just to let this text speak for
itself. But I fear it needs an introductory
supplement. It will be painfully clear
that what I present has none of the authority of Wittgenstein's text and little
of his pursuit of an ideal of logical form. Moreover Wittgenstein would not treat matters of poetics as if they could
be correlated with logical form: poetry for him is a matter of showing and not
at all of telling. Yet I find the format
of the Tractatus a fascinating one for poetic theory. This format establishes conditions for
writing that are as close as I will ever come to what artists do. Because each sentence must stand virtually
alone, each creates a challenge to capture what is distinctive about this
particular segment of one's thinking. The less one can rely on the context to flesh out one's prose, the
greater the need for careful labor in articulating each point, and the greater
the sense that every sentence is endlessly perfectible.
More important, this format affords a very promising
means of addressing a fundamental problem facing many literary critics: how
does one reconcile the awareness of being trapped in ideological frameworks
with the hope that one's efforts will at least slightly transform the borders
created by those frameworks. How does one convince oneself one's arguments can address
the concerns of those representing diverse traditions? While one knows that one cannot escape
ideology, one also knows that in most cases it remains impossible to say just
how one's specific arguments are bounded by one's presuppositions or
prejudices. So it seems reasonable to
hope that being as precise as possible about one's assumptions and their
consequences provides a significant test of the limits of one's constraints
because that also provides the greatest possibility of a concreteness and
coherence that may appeal to others with different conceptual orientations. One's arguments might in fact prove
compelling for a broader audience than one anticipates. Or spelling out the building blocks of one's
beliefs and values may reveal significant limitations that the interlocutors
might be able to describe in a language intelligible to both parties. Or the enterprise may by its seriousness at
least provoke others to specify their own positions with the same concern for
clarity about the foundations of their beliefs.
All those possibilities create conditions where third
parties can enter the discussion, clarifying where the cases become narrow and
sectarian and specifying new challenges that might foster further cooperation
in getting clear on how the issues transcend those particular ideological contexts. At the least such interventions will require
taking responsibility for what proves insufficiently subtle or supple, and so
facing up to one's limitations in all their painful concreteness. And at best these discussions can achieve the Lyotardian
sublime of communication across differences and so make a contribution to our
understanding what is human about the humanities.
1. A text is unit of language that is not
reducible to a series of propositions.
1.1 Texts do not establish how "the world
is all that is case" but instead foster imaginative inquiry into all that could
be the case if appropriate scenarios could be constructed. To treat writing as a "text" is to set it
against the fixities of the world and against the disciplines we trust to
establish those fixities.
1.11 Considered historically, texts weave
into one another in networks of intertextuality. So in dealing with textuality there is no feasible principle of closure. Texts are generative.
1.2. Contemporary writers often emphasize the principles of
indeterminacy built into the concept of textuality. They redirect language from descriptive and
expressive purposes to explore the various ways one text folds and unfolds relations to other uses of language. It becomes impossible to limit one's sense of
meaning to what an author probably intended.
2. Works are those created objects that society
regularly treats as needing or earning the versions of identity possible by
attributing and discussing intentionality. (I will speak of "Works" and "texts" as if they required language but
the concepts apply figuratively to all artistic media.)
2.1 Intentionality is the force by which we make determinate an
otherwise indeterminate field. To
attribute an intention is to attribute the power to make a "this" or a "that" of situation by organizing a perspectival rendering of
it (even if the perspective attempts to be a "view from nowhere").
2.2 Once a text becomes a work in any discipline, it clearly
establishes a distinctive role for the ideal reader.
2.21 An ideal reader is one who suspends possessive
appetite in order to identify provisionally with the intentional process by
which the text becomes a work. This
reader assumes that he or she must give the embodied intentionality space to
manifest its own interests before making judgments about the degree to which
the agent can participate in the imagined world offered by the work.
2.3 Works using
linguistic media can be divided into semantic structures that stress applying
inherited methods of analysis (conceptual or heuristic) and semantic structures
that are less bound to "method" and so call upon an audience to attribute modes
of intentionality characteristic of performance or enactment.
2.4 Works that emphasize performance also have to be
divided into two general classes. Some
works emphasize the role of rhetor, of a performer
who concentrates on activities that will modify specific general beliefs and so
elicit specific actions from an audience. Here the character or ethos of the author will matter, but as a
supplement to what is explicitly argued. Other works make the authorial performance the principle vehicle for eliciting
participation from the audience.
2.41 Works stressing authorial performance
will vary a great deal in how much they rely on methods of argument and how
much they rely on the exemplary qualities of the speaker. This is why the domain of rhetoric extends to
both argument and to works offering fictional worlds. And this is why treating
either domain only as rhetorical activity, without attending to the qualities
making for persuasiveness, distorts what the various practices can accomplish.
2.42 In works offered as literary participation typically
takes the form of imagining how what is presented can play
exemplary roles for an audience. The force of such works depends on what they make
imaginatively present as dispositions toward the world (rather than arguments
within it)-both by developing attitudes towards what the work asks us to
imagine and by inviting us to participate in how the writing takes on
figurative actuality in its own right, as in Stein's Tender Buttons.
2.5 If works of art make present possible dispositions of
imagination, we best treat that activity as demonstrative rather than
argumentative or descriptive. Therefore
semantically we have to treat such work as ways of providing samples and
examples of how the language might be used.
2.51 Samples therefore are not descriptions
but function as paradigms. They do not refer to discrete particulars but make
it possible to refer by indicating the semantic resources available for that
2.52 Typical samples and examples are names of colors, cardinal numbers, models for weights and measures (like the one meter
rod at Greenwich), and illustrations of grammatical and lexical
structures. A practical example of the
semantic use of example would be showing someone the possible meanings of terms
by indicating their range of applications. A more sublime example of example would be Socrates' offering his death
a model of how to respond to state power.
2.6 In its capacity to illustrate examples the demonstrative functions
as a distinctive mode of speech act.
2.61 Demonstratives are like Austen's performatives in that they do not use language to represent facts in the world but
call attention to what language can accomplish in the uttering.
2.62 But the similarities end there. Performative speech
acts accomplish something social by meeting felicity conditions: if the situation
is prepared properly and one says the right words, one is married, whatever one's
psychological attitude toward those words. Demonstratives are the opposite of performatives. Demonstratives do not satisfy social
conditions, and they do depend on the intentionality of the agents uttering
them. Where performatives satisfy conditions, demonstratives call attention to what an individual is
trying to exhibit in a situation and so do the work of exemplification. Demonstratives have the status of examples.
2.621 The two most common uses of the demonstrative
are specifying how something can be done in imitation of the
speaker and clarifying what is going on for the speaker as he or she reacts to
a situation. Elegies show us possible
ways of grieving; romantic meditations like "Tintern Abbey" bring self-consciousness to bear in order to clarify the very event it
2.622 The situation can be real or imaginary,
and so the speaker can either be an actual person or an imaginative
construct. And the imaginary dimension
of the demonstrative is not limited to the aesthetic domain: learning how
things can be done or attitudes expressed is a crucial dimension of education
into a culture. As Wittgenstein puts it,
sentences offering examples "are often used on the borderline between logic and
the empirical, so that their meaning changes back and forth and they count now
as expressions of norms, now as expressions of experience." (Remarks on Colour, Pt. 1, 32).
2.63 There are a
variety of speech acts included within the category of demonstrative (just as
there are a variety of performatives). But the variety of cases all share at least
one of three related practices-clarifying how something can be done, clarifying
how something is characteristically used (especially with reference to
grammar), and displaying various capacities of the agent, especially capacities
for feeling and for making. The
fundamental demonstrative claim is that I am showing you how I do something so
that you can do it, or appreciate it, or at least understand its motivation.
2.631 These are some typical demonstrative
"In English we use
"Try it to perform the piece in
"The story of that can be most
imaginatively told in this way,"
"Try this on for size."
"In this kind of situation I am
likely to respond in this way."
"Here I am trying
to show you what I am feeling."
2.6311 There is a huge difference between
pointing to the object one feels, like sand in one's shoes, and clarifying how
one feels by offering a chain of metaphors or gestures. The former case offers a description of what
causes the trouble; the latter case attempts to clarify an expressive act.
2.64 Writers are often tempted to explore
how demonstratives utilize what Wittgenstein calls a "shifting borderline
between logic and the empirical." Employing
that shifting borderline allows them to be intensely concrete and at the same
time pursue the metaphorical possibilities that might make the experience
representative for larger audiences. Here the metaphoric refers not to the status of any particular verbal
expression but to the capacity of the work as a whole to serve as an exemplary
attitude. Appreciating the exemplary
qualities of attitude makes it possible to bring that attitude to bear in
related real world situations. In this
respect art works have a great deal in common with instructional videos.
2.7 Stressing demonstratives helps us see how art plays significant
2.71 Works of art typically combine two
aspects of demonstration. They foreground
how the work is constructed and composed in order to display possibilities of
what the artist's style can do in relation to the work's implicit or explicit
heritage. And they make a display in a
projected world of what imagination can offer as a means of modifying our
senses of possibility in the actual world.
2.711 Typically critics treat it as a
distinctive trait of twentieth century painting and writing to foreground how
the work is constructed. But demanding
forms like the sonnet and the ode almost always require ambitious artists to
foreground how they meet the demands of the form and to project the possible
uses of those verbal formulations in the world beyond the text. And more public forms like the epic or even
the novel invite authors to define their difference from their important
2.712 One ideal
figure for the demonstrative in art is Cyrano de Bergerac providing speakers
the terms enabling them to express their loves. At the opposite pole the ideal demonstrative would become as literal as
chant or prayer in fusing a medium with its possible significance in the actual
world. Think of how Malevich's
White on White doubles the most
elemental color in order to create the emergence of a "non-objective
spirit." There are significant
affinities in how the rhythms and juxtapositions of T.S Eliot's Waste Land at once promote and attempt to transfigure the
materiality of the medium.
2.72 In Western aesthetics there is general
agreement that one basic value of art resides in its resistance to synonymy. Because style highlights internal relations allowing
strong claims for the work's distinctiveness, we miss something substantial if
we treat that work as equal to alternative expressions that render roughly the
same state. Therefore we are invited to
respond to the intentionality of the work as if it could take on force as a
particular event that exemplifies what an aspect of the world might be or
2.721 Demonstrative works emphasize intricate interconnections between the artists making and the language's
telling (or the labor embodied in the handling of the medium), so there is a
strong sense of present activity even when the works takes the form of narratives
about the past.
2.73 The metaphoric dimension
of works of art is one basic way the demonstration seeks representativeness for the exemplary qualities it offers. Classical theory treats metaphor as supplementary,
that is as a means of developing an attitude for an observation. The writer names an object in such a way that the name brings to bear a broader frame of
reference. "Juliet is the sun" indicates
for audience both her beauty and Romeo's enslaved worship of that beauty. Romantic and post-Romantic theory
concentrates on metaphors that are more elemental, on what seem immediate
affective conditions of observation or thinking rather than predicates in an
argument. So these writers are tempted
to treat metaphor as a recognition of dynamic
interconnections fundamental to the force fields constituting given
situations. And they set metaphor
against the authority of empirical observation, whether the issue be how perception connects us to the vital world or how the
unconscious disconnects us from what sheer description seems to offer. For the first consider the blend of simple
reference with metaphoric scope in Wordsworth's "We see into the life of
things"; and for the second John Ashbery's "night,
the reserved, the reticent, gives more that it takes." And for both consider how well they can apply
to many works written in accordance with classical theories.
2.731 Both theoretical approaches have to admit that metaphors ramify into indeterminacy
as possible qualities of the comparison multiply.
2.8 Works stressing demonstrative performance
require a different, more diffuse and complexly distributed model of
intentionality than works offering propositions or emphasizing rhetorical
performance. The more the emphasis is on
the activity, and the greater the reliance on the singularity of the example,
the less any account of an intention prior to the actual performance will
suffice. For in such cases it will not
do to characterize the intention in terms of a plan or a purpose. Rather the relevant state of intentionality
resides in a taking of responsibility that cannot be represented by
statements. The responsibility resides
in how intentionality becomes a self-reflexive state we attribute to a manner
of performing. Authors take
responsibility by offering works for approval by an audience, since we have to
presume that the work satisfies some of the author's standards.
2.81 If we seek to equate intentionality
with a specific set of intended meanings, we do best to rely on biographical
evidence specifying what an agent actually planned to say and hence tried to
mean. But demonstratives that are works
of art encourage a view of intentionality that stresses internal relations
providing many layers of integration but no stateable coherent plan.
2.82 There are many intermediate cases where
it is appropriate to combine a model of purpose sustaining a chain of arguments
with a model of intentionality that stages performative
qualities modifying that chain.
2.9 We best capture this difference in the kinds
of intention if we adapt for psychology Kant's distinction between purposes and purposiveness.
2.91 Purposiveness is contrasted to establishing a purpose. Purpose is defined as "the
object of a concept insofar as we regard this concept as the object's cause
(the real basis of its possibility). Under standard circumstances we regard the purpose of a chair as
something to sit on-the effect is possible only through a concept of that
effect. Purposiveness occurs when we must attribute
purposes without having a clear idea of cause. Kant's paradigm is the attribution of teleology from what we observe of
the natural laws. But purposiveness also occurs in relation to attributions of
will, hence the importance of the concept to thinking about attributing
intentions. We attribute purposiveness when we cannot locate a specific will (in
contrast to moral judgment) yet we need a concept of will for the explanation
of how phenomena appear related to another in a presentation (Bernard
translation, 65). In such cases we have
a sense that what is being demonstrated requires an authorial presence not
bound to a rule but establishing the rule as it goes along. Purposiveness is
the possibility of a work having a rule that is specific to its ways of
unfolding. Hence Wittgenstein writes "In
one case we make a move in an existent game, in the other we establish a rule
of the game. Moving a piece could be
conceived in these two ways: as a paradigm for future moves, or as a move in an
actual game" (Zettel, no 294; see also 295-308 and
PI, p. 227 on alternatives to "calculating rules").
2.92 There are two basic directions of purposiveness, paralleling the two directions in which
works become performatve. Purposiveness can
be primarily invested in how the author gives a particular cast to ideas. Or the purposiveness can reside in how the work develops internal structures like sound patterns or
patterns of imagery so that these qualify as features allowing the
demonstration to model distinctive possibilities of experience. (Think of how Ezra Pound turns the
representation of a scene in a metro station into an apparitional world.)
2.921 The two directions of purposiveness often have to be correlated in quite complex
3. Fictive modes of demonstrative writing are
concerned primarily with the making of possible worlds and the shaping of
attitudes within those worlds.
There are three basic fictive models for building those worlds, although many
authorial acts try out different combinations of the resources made available
by those models.
3.2 Probably the most popular fictive mode is the telling of
stories. This telling relies on skills
in making representations of experience in order to offer imaginative responses
to why events occur, how they play out, and how audiences can develop attitudes
enabling them to attune their emotional lives to those actions.
3.21 In narrative
fictions details connect to the world not by picturing it, as propositions do,
but by implicating it within the activity of purposive imagining. Typically the focus is on the maker's judgments
about how the characters act in various situations. So we hold the maker responsible for how the
fictive demonstration achieves representativeness in
the actual world.
3.22 The demonstrative force of stories lies
primarily in how the author controls the resources available to narrative
form. These resources include at least
four important features: the opportunity to choose where the author (and the
embedded characters) narrate and where their lives are presented dramatically
as aspects of the events; the possibility of varying how much development is
given to particular details (Ovid tells the story of Aeneas's founding of Rome
in ten lines); the capacity to control
whether the audience sees from within a given character's perspective or is
presented with something approaching a common social agreement on what is
occurring; and finally the need to establish internal parallels that govern how
we make judgments about the characters' attitudes and actions.
3.23 The most
important effect of controlling these resources is the manipulation of how
audiences identify with characters (including the author as character) or
maintain their distance from them. And
identification in turn is the means by which stories become representative and
hence model attitudes and their consequences important to the life of a
3.231 The process of identification and the
refusal of identification within fiction are very flexible processes. Different degrees of distance and intimacy are
readily available. And audiences can
treat identification primarily in terms of specific likenesses with given
groups, as in contemporary criticism's concern for representatives of race,
gender, and class. Or identification can
be extended to approach classical Western concerns for "everyman."
3.2311 This flexibility itself becomes a provocation for imagination because writers are tempted to explore the degree of
intimacy with strange particulars that can at the same time be projected as
encompassing universals. Kafka's The Metamorphoses might serve as a
demonstration of this intimate interplay between the singular and the general.
3.3 Fictions presented in the theater can
be distinguished from stories because they maintain very different route of
identification and hence of representativeness. Characters are not described but presented,
so that they exist entirely in what they say and what is said about them by
other characters. Where story-telling
labors to establish interpretive scope for its samples and examples, most
Western theater instead seeks to narrow the scope of the example, at least
initially. We are not so much invited to
see how the character's assume representative
attitudes as to experience how the actual character takes on literal force as an
individual. Hence what becomes
representative is less a general attitude than a specific concrete person or
perhaps force challenging the audience to come to terms with what can be
brought to life in real time. The
wondrous transformation of Hermione in The
Winter's Tale literalizes a basic drive in Western drama.
3.31 Where stories are fundamentally
responsive to questions about why and how something happened, dramatic
performances raise the basic challenge of interpreting what is actually present
and happening on the stage. Drama is
less an interpretation of experience than the actual making of a powerfully
distinctive experience for an audience.
3.312 Hamlet enters
speaking in puns because Claudius has sucked out all public space for
characters who might not share his powerful reasonableness. Macbeth must align himself lucidly with how
different he is from those who in the beginning of the play seem brothers in
arms. Estragon and Vladimir must convince us that their absurd situation is an
aspect of what makes their waiting significant and compelling. (The banality of late twentieth century
American theater stems from the labor of making a climactic particular
revelation that ultimately seems all too typical and therefore conventional.)
3.3121 Many works of
art aspire to the condition of theatrical event because there is no gulf
between the demonstration or particularity of the author's project and the
sense of actuality with respect to the product.
If story is concerned basically with how and why people act, and if drama is concerned primarily with what can be made present as action, lyric is concerned primarily with the question
of who an agent becomes by virtue of how agency is composed in language,
especially in spoken language. The lyric
emphasizes the substance that the speaking can take on by virtue of the quickenings or subtle gradations of sense established by
the choice of words and the patterns they enter into-as overt syntax and as
elements thickening the texture of the attitudes projected by such gradations.
4.1 If one
imagines a series of steps from discursive works to narratives to lyric poems,
there will be an increasingly important role for how the particular speaker's
character (either the poet or a dramatic surrogate) is defined almost
exclusively by linguistic choices (rather than physical actions). This progression culminates in the
possibility of language itself assuming the position of the author, as
idealized in Language writing.
Reading lyric poetry requires treating words as simultaneously vehicles
referring to imagined worlds and vehicles forming patterns that can give these
imagined worlds significance. We get to
the "what" through the "how" embodied in these particular choices.
4.12 Reading the
lyric entails directing attention to how and why the purposive making
establishes the intricacies constituting this particular experience. In lyric the authorial role is typically the
primary affective focus of the reader's response.
4.13 Because of the
focus on the authorial role, the lyric emphasizes what occurs in the activity
composing the poem and the possible implications of that activity for our
imaginative appreciation of the situation rendered.
4.131 We need not
limit the authorial role to the expressive activity of a distinct psychological
subject. It also comprises the possibility of redefining agency because of the
rules the composer evokes-from the rules of sonnet construction to the rules of
a Fibonaci series.
4.132 Lyrics typically bring that authorial
activity to the foreground by driving out expectations that the use of language
is primarily discursive. Hence the work
foregrounds what seems excessive in language (excessively concise and spare as
well as excessively lush in semantic and sonic registers), and so invites us to
bracket our practical interests in what can be accomplished by means of perlocutionary speech acts.
4.133 Just as fiction stresses the present tense
involved in narrating the story, lyric stresses the actual experience of
finding the words by which an attitude is composed. Lyrics drive out practical expectations in
order to stress the gradations of sense possible when we become self-conscious
about the difference between reports on experience and the eventfulness that
occurs as we experience the force of language at work.
4.1331 Gradations of sense (in both
senses of "sense) depend on the combining of two distinctive registers. One register consists in how the author
position foregrounds the formal features that the medium of language
possesses-from aural patterning to rhythmic intensities to treating syntax as a
metaphoric extension of or comment on what the sentences literally render. A second register consists in how such formal
features help realize possibilities of meaningfulness, possibilities of
participating in imagined conditions that implicate and extend the linguistic
frameworks we use to characterize experience in the actual world. (There are obviously other ways of
attributing affective coherence to works, but they have less powerful means of
dramatic focus than authorial intention provides, and therefore they also can
attribute less resonance to moments when the language undermines or otherwise
resists where the prevailing consciousness wants things to go.)
4.2 Lyric poems solicit identification
with the effort to develop means of expression for the affects that emerge as the
experience of forming an attitude. The
wording and the worlding have to be seen as built
into the lyric experience from the start.
4.3 Lyrics invite being read literally as affectively
and metaphorically charged demonstrations providing samples of what goes into
forging an attitude towards some aspect of the world. An attitude is a psychological structure
producing provisional coherence for feelings and enabling them to have visible
effects on thought and actions. Therefore
the reader's fundamental task is to give the maximum force to the poem's articulation
of that emerging attitude and the possible difference it can make within the
world it addresses.
5. Those subtle gradations that constitute the "quickening" of sense are usually registered affectively in lyric experience by an emphasis
on feeling rather than on emotion, even when the poem engages with conventional
emotions. Lyrics bring to consciousness the range of feelings possible within
standard emotional situations like the declaration of love.
5.1 Fictive attitudes can emphasize either emotions or feelings. The former comprises those affects that are
organized in terms of projected or imagined actions, while the latter are
closer to the immediate and polymorphous world of sensation. Feelings can be aspects of emotional
attitudes, but when feeling is emphasized the concern will be with how the
attitude is formed rather than with the consequences produced by the attitude.
5.11 Feelings are best defined as
supplements to sensation that elicit self-reflection while resisting concepts-hence
the need for a notion like "attitude." Feelings
add a comparative dimension to sensations because they encourage
adding "as" to extend what seems immediately given in experience. (Elizabeth Bishop provides a good example of
this in poem where careful visual attention to a sandpiper gradually evokes human
analogues.) Emotions on the other hand usually take the form of attitudes that
are shaped on the logic of a plot. There
is a precipitating cause, a distinctive overall orientation of sensibility, and
a projection of consequences. Anger
projects striking out at someone; fear projects flight.
5.111 There is a problem in using the term "feeling" because it has distinctive uses as both a noun and a verb. As a verb the term refers to the subject
position for all kinds affects, including moods. We then find ourselves having to say we occupy
the position of feeling the affects that we want to identify as feelings. But since we need both terms, awareness of
the duality will have to suffice as the basis for keeping things straight.
important reason to stress how lyric engages feelings is to make it clear that the
affect in poetry need not stem from representing of copying or narrating
emotional states. The quickening of
sense that poetry produces becomes an immediate and actual means of composing
affective states, analogous to the effect musical composition has.
5.3 Modern poetry usually does not offer itself as the record of an
emotional state but stages itself as enacting the search of means of expression
enabling a cogent awareness of the feelings involved in a given situation. That is how syntax and structure function as
aspects of feeling and not just means of representing feeling.
6. Because the lyric involves identification
with the creative activity quickening the world, it also provides an implicit model
of readerly satisfaction.
6.1 The simplest version of this model consists in
the awareness of the difference it makes for the psyche when the relevant quickenings occur. Poems provide possible states of being for possible selves.
6.11 Lyric quickening is self-reflexive. It turns consciousness back on the agent even
as it expands the world into a field where consciousness can make a significant
difference in what is seen and felt and appreciated.
6.2 Because the composing agency in
lyric so manifestly depends on the resources of a given language, the poem
offers an opportunity for the audience to reflect on how it then participates
in powers of articulation in principle available to all who speak the language.
6.21 The conjunction of lyrical and
linguistic agency affords the readers a position in which they can respond to
affective turbulence by at once intensifying it and giving it a reflective
focus for a polity.
6.2121 There are two basic routes to satisfaction in dealing with such
turbulence. Lyrics can encourage readers
to feel an expansiveness resulting from the world seeming to open itself to the
rush of the ego's imaginative energies. Or the lyric can celebrate the power to restrict those energies and
force the audience to recognize how intelligence demands resistance to the
ego's quest for self-congratulatory postures. Precision becomes a significant position for
the ego. Think for example of the
difference between Yeat's "Prayer for my Daughter"
and Marianne Moore's "The Steeplejack."
6.21211 In both cases the power of the lyric lies
fundamentally in the sense that one is learning to recognize the differences
that make a difference in eliciting these states of expanding and diminishing
6.3 If one stresses identification with the making
presence, one can experience the work as developing a reader's capacity to
appreciate how purposive states can take on these affective qualities and
6.31 Lyric encourages a dialectical process
of identification in which one appreciates who one becomes as one gains the
power to reflect on how the text shapes those possibilities of experience.
6.4 Developing such visions of affective possibility is poetry's
basic social function.
6.41 These visions of affective possibility are not
simply abstract idealizations or instruments for imaginary
self-congratulation. Rather they
indicate possibilities for experiencing the affects deriving from sharpened
understanding and focused participatory energies. Lyrics test and are tested by the qualities of attention they invite agents to bring
to experience. 6.411 If we turn this argument towards
psychological values we can see how the lyric might elicit identifications that
not only reinforce a sense of agency but also dialectically develop it by
exploring possible ways persons can minimize their tendencies to protect established
selves by donning protective armor. Lyrics
can explore the satisfactions possible in identifying with strange and
frightening situations where propositional knowledge seems impossible.
poetry there cannot be a fixed opposition between silence and speech, or even
between an ideal of logical form and an ideal of perspicuous particularity.
7.1 In poetry silence is also a means
of eloquence-witness Moore's "Silence." Poems then can develop attitudes encouraging identification with the
kind of silence that makes a clearing and helps inhabit it while warding off
anxious efforts to find the comfort of words.
7.2. One important clearing is in fact the questioning of the
epistemic values that direct Wittgenstein's Tractatus to make such sharp
distinctions between what can be known through propositions and what remains
the domain of tautology. Wittgenstein is
probably not wrong from within the epistemic framework that he wants both to fulfill
and to empty of value. But poetry's focus
on the how of making and its consequences asks us to speculate on the
possibility of a theory of language more attentive to individual manner than general matter and the methods that secure its presence. Poetry asks us to value individual choosings, in part for the roles they stage silence
7.3 Poetry criticism driven by the values
expressed here will not strive to explain the poet's interests or even to
specify what poems might discover or disclose. Rather the aim of criticism is to flesh out the affective intensities
available as we engage in reading through these poems.
Lyrics, in short, foreground the ways in which demonstrative activity invites
this attention to manner. And this mode
of attention cannot be adequately characterized by generalizing argument but
must be carried out primarily in the close analysis of discrete examples.
7.41 The power of these examples will
ultimately render the assertions in this text mere ladders that we must throw
away when we realize how they are at best provisional ways of making people
hear and see. Particular authors can
wring complex interrelations having rhetoric merges with poetics, purposiveness mix with the pressure of mechanical and
ideological forces, efforts at narrative distance fuse with the immediate
pressure of engaging concrete situations, and the fluidity of open-ended
identifications blend with the desire to establish stable identity.