I want to say that this tradition of implausible explanations helps us to see why poetry might be a powerful place to think about the problem of historical change: because poems seem like storehouses of precisely the kinds of action that are hard to see as already legible. They “elude foresight utterly,” and are “occulted from most present sight.” They are a site of action in which the third-person category of meaningful action is encountered where it always and everywhere undertaken: in a resolutely first person form.
Just as “confidence” is hope cut free from its surrounding dangers, so too a “reminder” is an invitation cut free from a discursive environment of argument and persuasion. It is a performance of knowledge that causes anxiety to lapse, that opens our eyes to the obvious without insisting upon it. Or to put the point slightly differently, the idea of a reminder is the idea of a poetry of ease.
This issue of nonsite presents a conversation between literary scholars and philosophers, revisiting the ancient quarrel between literature and philosophy in a modern disciplinary context. Edited by Oren Izenberg and Rob Chodat.
Welcome to the opening of the Tank, into which we drop a published work or a work-in-progress (or some piece of one or the other) and see what happens when the water starts churning. In our first installment, Oren Izenberg steps into the water.