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A Few Paraphernalia for Interpretation




"Tale a la Hoffman," by Paul Klee, 1921


“But there is no way to bring self-creation together with justice at the level of theory.”


Richard Rorty, from Contingency, irony, and solidarity


“Ethics and aesthetics are one.”


Ludwig Wittgenstein, from Notebooks, 1914-1916

1. Every single thing in our society militates against our becoming individuals. It’s built into the fabric.


1.1. Becoming an individual is a fight.


1.2 We are so afraid of being alone, we do violence to ourselves to avoid it.


1.3 When we seek happiness externally (fear of being alone, etc.) we are always, without fail, disappointed.


1.4 The only thing that can legitimately bright happiness is therefore the inner life.


2. The best poets were individuals. They fought the hardest.


2.1 This is why Harold Bloom was right about agon.


2.2 To fight means you have the need to fight, which mean’s you’ve suffered and are, to some degree, honest about that.


2.3 Individuals are tested. Poetry is the fruit of a stern taskmaster.


3. Poetry is more concerned with aesthetics than ethics, because tone is more important than content.


3.1 Voice is an angle of tone.


3.2 Ethics if first philosophy, but so is aesthetics. Red, blue and yellow are each primary colors.


4. Empathy involves imagination, but literature involves imagination sharpened.


4.1 We are able to imagine because we are imagined.


5. Poetry become poets out of necessity, not always because they wanted to.


5.1 A poem is an attempt to share pain through tone.


5.2 Other people can’t transform our pain. But we can. This is why poems are written by individuals.


5.3 When a poem is shared, it remains aesthetic, but with ethical features. When Whitman became other people, he remained himself, leaning and loafing at his ease.


6. Canons of literature are formed because we couldn’t murder the Buddha, hard as we tried.


6.1 True critics become critics because they drown easily.


6.2 True critics are connoisseurs of blessing.


6.3 Critique without appreciation is hungry; appreciation without critique is bloated.


6.4 Aristotle was more right about art than Plato, because there is no one behind the mask.


6.5 Authority and authenticity are real because no one is behind the mask.


7. Rebellion is obedience.


7.1 Repression is indulgence.


7.2 The idea of sin is bad poetry.


7.3 There is a difference between fantasy and reality.


7.4 There is no difference between imagination and reality.


8. Seeing is produced by suffering but should not be reduced to it.


8.1 Every human being is a failed poet, but this is even more so for a poet.


8.2 Madness is pain without form.


8.3 It is impossible to be banished, but it is possible to be exiled.


9. Love is the mother of fearlessness.


9.1 Honesty is the mother of freedom.

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