Saturday, 13 April 2013

A Saving Mutiny

Spurred by Helen Vendler's chapter on Alexander Pope that appears in her book Poets Thinking, Timothy Donnelly unpacks Vendler's notion of "quasi-intelligibility":
For as long as I can remember I’ve been sensitive to the distance between an object of thought or perception and any given way of expressing it, knowing that the most efficient, utile, or commonplace way of putting it might be appropriate for the daytime, so to speak, or in the marketplace, but at night, and in the forest, all bets were off—or else they should be. A sharpened pencil might become “a stick of gold with lead in it, excited to a point.” A glass of ice water might transform into “a liquid clearness contained in a slower liquid clearness, interrupted by solids of the first clearness.” And somehow, sometimes, to re-conceive the near-at-hand in a way surpassing that in which routine and its dry tongue compels one to experience it has seemed like more than just recreation or refreshment—it has felt like a necessary refusal, a saving mutiny.

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