Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Written in 1980

"I am reminded of W. H. Auden's foreword to his A Certain World: A Commonplace Book in which he recognizes that his compilation amounts to a sort of autobiography. He calls it, responding to a passage from G. K. Chesterton, 'a map of my planet.' The passage Auden quotes from contains these sentences: 'The original quality in any man of imagination is imagery. It is a thing like the landscape of his dreams; the sort of world he would like to make or in which he would wish to wander; the strange flora and fauna of his own secret planet; the sort of thing he likes to think about.' I would like to accept the idea that I have revealed a secret planet in revealing myself, a certain errant wholeness, with the proviso that no one's planet contains anything anyone else's may not contain, or does not have the equivalent of; and that their contents are commonplaces, including an aspiration toward the better possibility, which I might call the life of philosophy. Philosophy, at any rate, must ask no less."
-- Stanley Cavell, in his essay "A Reply to John Hollander" reprinted in the amusing, infuriating, provocative, often profound essay collection
Themes Out of School: Effects and Causes, first published in 1984. (Auden's A Certain World is out of print.)

No comments:

Post a Comment