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Anxious gatekeeping

Analogous to nervous cluelessness is something we might call “anxious gatekeeping.”   This is desire to police the borders of poetry, or of...

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Trust II

This post is one of the most popular ever on SMT, at number 3 or 4. In it I said I was memorizing "Tintern Abbey" by W. Wordsworth, but had no idea why. I had to trust Jonathan's instincts without second guessing them. He had to know what he is doing, even if he didn't know what he was doing, wasn't able to offer a conscious justification

Well today, I realized why. I came across a summary of Schiller's "Naive and Sentimental Poetry" in a book by Valente. Now today I realized that my entire book is structured around this opposition. And "Tintern Abbey" is one of the most poignant reflections on this dichotomy. The poet returns to the banks of the Wye river and can no longer experience nature directly, "as in the hour of thougthless youth." Rather, nature becomes a source for aesthetic and moral reflection, to be enjoyed at one remove. Yet he sees his sister's "bright eyes" as a reflection of his own former self. Then he goes on to projects his sister's future, when her unmediated contact with nature will be "matured" into a more sober reflection, like his own. Naive reflection seems superior, from one perspective, but ultimately the "sentimental" view wins out.Thought over thoughtlessness.

Ok, so maybe I didn't have to memorize the entire poem and spend several weeks doing so!

But here, too, we see the dichotomy between conscious thought and the sort of unconscious thought processes necessary to produce truly creative scholarship.

1 comment:

Andrew Shields said...

Good to see Schiller getting his due!