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letter
january 1, 2012 / may 28, 2012

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Anticipated lover, projected lover, reflectively remembered lover unwittingly lain as if born again, at heart you are whom I loved.

It’s funny that I have so many books related to love (divisible into 18 different kinds of Gary’s interest in love). But that’s what can happen when one collects books for decades: I also have a lot on the history of European thought. I’ve even read parts of some of them. Hey, I’m a collector, not a monstrous erudite. But I love to learn—given time.

So, I have about 50 of the thousands that I’m going to actually work through, the next couple of years. That’s what I was alluding to when last week I mentioned “the coming year’s affairs with others’ senses of flourishing, mind, enaction, love, somatic pleasure, autobiography, ethical possibility, high creativity, literary thinking, beauty, goodness, and conceptuality as such.” I was laughing at my pretense when I wrote that.

I’ll get through what I can, but no rush. Dwelling serenely, like laying with you on the bed or musing into the trees at Caffè Strada in springtime—we should play around Berkeley in the spring. Or lower hills of the Sierras. Or Banff. Or Bali. Switzerland. Patagonia... But nooo, you’ve got other plans. [She’s pregnant with her husband.]

Anyway, I’ve got an incredibly neat subset of books to share during the next couple of years. And an incredibly neat town to dance in. New tomes will turn up, causing some current favorites to get bumped. (That’s how the library got so large: I can’t part with the autobiographical aura that unread favorites figure.) But my list is pretty stable; it hasn’t changed much recently.

I’m conflicted by loving too many topics. I’m especially drawn out between theory of mind and literary sensibility (surprise, surprise). So, to surrender to two appeals at once, should I read The Neural Sublime? subtitled: “cognitive theories and Romantic texts.” Note the iconic cover image. I’ve long found that hilarious: See, to be so high above the fog, facing a geographically implausible vista, without a backpack, in one’s street coat and cane—all probably means I should stay away from Romanticism, another failure of mine. But I recognize something primordial in Romantic appeal (not the iconic image). Indeed, a contemporary philosopher writing about contemporary philosophy makes the point with the title of his book The Persistence of Romanticism (recollection of which caused the title of my embarrassing web page with such an intentionally-silly beginning.) Aptly or not (I’ll find out), I associate The Neural Sublime (the title) with Deep Play and The Poet’s Freedom.

What is possible for the “literary” mind? the philosophical mind. (Who needs grammatical closure, as phenomenal life has no intrinsic grammar, just its epigenesis, other than what we may give.) What is possible for shared understanding? What is possible for intimacy which is “ours,” not merely my intrapsychal Selfing? The best I can hope for is to show you things that are lovely for me, and have that be worthwhile for you.

Yet, to believe in what I’m doing, I have to write to the future. If you were with me, it would be different. So, I write to the unmet—“You,” somewhere someday. It’s no pathos. And it’s not to be poetic, in any standard (or, at worst, precisous) sense. Yet, it’s what any poet likely does sometimes (writing to someone unmet, even someone implicit to who’s “known”) —which was the kind of thought I had in mind by wanting to inhabit W.S. Merwin’s Shadow of Sirius, which I still want to do.

Well, I could play all day with book titles and reveries....

All this actually proceeds quite slowly. You read it quickly, thus creating a fiction of semantic emergence (and semantic compression) that doesn’t belong to the writing. This reality is partly why poets put their writing into short lines.

I open The Neural Sublime randomly (just now, I swear) before putting it away.

“....Mr. Elton was to go, and never had his broad face expressed more pleasure than at this moment; never had his smile been stronger; nor his eyes more exulting than when he looked at her” ([Emma,] 93). John Knightley’s adept mind-reading abilities (a trait he shares with his brother) stand out, however, in relation to Elton’s and Emma’s notable failures in the scenes to follow... (TNS, 87).

Ain’t happenstance grand?



Next: section 3 of “intimacies.”

 

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