Mapping the constellation so far:
1. Jay and Thomas continue their engaging discussion on Wittgenstein below. See the comments to my 9/23 entry "Preparing a response: Limits".
2. On 9/17, I offered a response to Nick Piombino's aphorism on Thought with the entry "Accompaniment". A link to Nick's aphorism is there. If you want to begin at the beginning, so there.
3. Nick responded; Jay joined the conversation giving it further direction, then Laura and Thomas joined. These appear to be the main participants so far.
4. In addition, many folks have been reading, and I hope, will begin participating.
5. Also, there are bits of significant color in my underdeveloped and playful but related posts on Robert Frost's definitions for the sentence.
Here is my return to the discussion. Below I quickly outline my continuing thoughts, and am quite happy to let them fester a bit more before I continue in detail this Friday.
Thomas's last comment is where I was intending to go but with different results. (If I am wrong about your direction, Thomas, let me know.) I do think we can use the epistemological arguments in W's T and PI to consider constructing a poetics. Here I differ slightly from both Jay and Thomas. I don't see any problem at all with steering Wittgenstein away from himself for our use. I think of this as a Nietzschean move--he did it with Kant--or a Heideggerian move--he did it with Nietzsche--or a Marx move--he did it with Hegel.
My claim: First, we must assume we are addressing the subject of language and thought. Second, we assert that literary art has something meaningful and useful to say about the state of things that is neither science nor philosophy though it may use both in its speaking. Then, we can make the following claim. If what philosophy and science cannot say must be passed over in silence, then literary art need not silently speak what philosophy and science must pass over in silence.
Both Jay and Thomas will immediately notice that I have made a small leap because from my givens to my claim two complex implications are left assumed that shouldn't be. I need to come to terms with the overcoming of the silent utterance I have implied can be spoken. I hint at my solution in the title to this entry and the playful definition of rhetoric as the "artful silence."
Thomas quotes Wittgenstein: "If you can see the white chickens, I'll grant you all the rest." Well, his gesture is a sacrifice more than a gift. The philosopher has limits just as the scientist does. On the other hand, we don't say that the writer is limited in the same way a philosopher or scientist is: The literary artist has no limit. But "possesses no limit" is itself a Limit--or, we could say, is Limited. And that is the second implied claim I must address. I have my work cut out for me. Fortunately, it is enjoyable and constructive. And undeniably debatable.
This is where I will go and what I will try to discuss and I will use Thoreau and Emerson...Thoreau's Walden and Emerson's "Circles" among other essays. I will use Olson and his discussion of breath and the reader's involvement in breathing the poet's breath--parts one and two of "Projective Verse." There are helpful discussions between Olson and Creeley within their earliest letters--the bits about attending to voice. The scolding that goes on.
Anyway, there is another way to look at this. If the phenomenologists were onto anything at all, I feel that their (Husserl, Heidegger, Merleau-Ponty, et satellites) aim best illustrates how Philosophy is the science of Science. What scientists cannot discover through methodology, the philosophers handle. If Emerson's definition for the purpose and use we make of literary artists and their craft/product in "Circles" is precise, then we can safely (which is important for the ability to implement any idea in everyday use, though I prefer dangerously) then we can safely submit that literary art holds stable philosophy and science and all the rest in silence. In other words, in the background. Poetry is The Case.
Now, this should not tempt us to locate our debate inside a teleological frame. The philosopher does this--the scientist, too. The end of philosophy is always some par excellence or another. The end of science is the thing itself by way of a representative solution to a unique method. The end of literary art is its own destruction because literary artists revise method and excellence in each moment.
The literary artist takes hold of the matter of everyday experience with language and, for a moment, shows us ourselves. The intimate relationship that exists through language and thought between the writer and reader is a world shattering campaign contra History and Modernity. [Nietzsche, in The Gay Science talks about Romanticism and Idealism and the desire for destruction--he writes about the mistake of "backward inference." I will get to this as well.] The relationship between literary artist and reader is not the relationship between philosopher and reader (Nietzsche knew this; Susan Howe works on such problems) and is certainly not the relationship between the scientist and citizen. [aside: this is the problem with Aristotle after all. "Wouldn't it be nice?" is all one can say.]
So, the literary artist's aim, when accurate, destroys the telos language and thought are used to cultivate through philosophical discourse. Nevertheless, and this is vital, we depend on philosophy to address those things science cannot address because of the limits its own eminently safe methodology constructs and those ideas art cannot address because IT is not utterable.
Whereas poets tend to accept the need for a poetics (a dialogue as much aout verse itself as it is about the inability to address the poetic object at all,) which is as close as the poet artist gets to philosophy itself, the majority of prose practitioners roll in their own anti-intellectual shit as if they enjoyed the smell of being oneself without knowing oneself. And don't think I am taking sides. I am, after all, in a Fiction program. I chose this route over Poetry because poets tend to see prose in anything that doesn't resemble one of many traditional verse forms. Fortunately, Bin Ramke and Brian Kiteley will both work with me and are more than aware of the limitations and problems of experimentation. One simply cannot be experimental based on a desire to be performing new speech acts in verse and prose. On emay improvise or nuance...one is always traditional in that a work is always comparable to one other. I think we can agree that we haven't left form behind and that we don't want to and that (quite possibly) we cannot. Epistemology is a help here, by the way. Poets--even those most concerned with objects--tend to forget that they use language. No matter the argument discourse about poetics, poetry, prosody tends to incorporate a bit of modesty that prose artists reject. The typical prose artist struggles to see beyond the work itself at any given time and often offers ridiculous claims about the field. Their statements are either totally solipsistic--useless--or overwhelmingly world-encompassing--colonialistic. (See DF Wallace's statements about Irony and contemporary (American) novel--if I recall properly, he claimed he was going to quit because everything was terribly ironic. Sure, this is an ironic statement. Nevermind that a reader can find irony of this sort anywhere; DFW's critique incorporates the most flawed vision of Irony--its most debased and typical form. Wallace's humor, alas, is for the market. Utterly exchangeable as a quantifiable form without quality.)
But I digress. To return: the literary artist cannot address IT. All writer's know IT well--that thing we cannot write but write around. IT drives the text. IT is in consciousness and behind consciousness. IT fuels the return of the repressed but is not the result of that return. IT is visible and invisible, opaque and translucent. I think of IT as analogous to the "splash of red" Maupassant's madman sees in "Le Horla." IT has a quality not quantity, and that is how we address IT to each other--through prose and verse. Consequently, we only modify Its qualities in language. The philosopher is in many ways dedicated to addressing our limits by iluminating those same limits, therefore taking us closer to IT with language. In this manner, we all write forward together.
The arrow again. Broken yet
swift and accurate.