Poetic Force: Poetry after Kant (Meridian: Crossing Aesthetics)

Poetic Force: Poetry after Kant (Meridian: Crossing Aesthetics)

Language: English

Pages: 216

ISBN: 0804791007

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

This book argues that the theory of force elaborated in Immanuel Kant's aesthetics (and in particular, his theorization of the dynamic sublime) is of decisive importance to poetry in the nineteenth century and to the connection between poetry and philosophy over the last two centuries. Inspired by his deep engagement with the critical theory of Walter Benjamin, who especially developed this Kantian strain of thinking, Kevin McLaughlin uses this theory of force to illuminate the work of three of the most influential nineteenth-century writers in their respective national traditions: Friedrich Hölderlin, Charles Baudelaire, and Matthew Arnold. The result is a fine elucidation of Kantian theory and a fresh account of poetic language and its aesthetic, ethical, and political possibilities.

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them into an “image”: “Drawn upright on goldenâ•›/â•›Leading strings, like children” (GS 2.1: 121; SW 1: 31). But the greater force of the architectonic element of the last version of the poem also projects figurability into the sphere of the gods, where it traditionally submits to their ends. Now, however, the figuring force in the hands of the poets is greater than that of the gods, and the poets “bring oneâ•›/â•›From among the heavenly beings” (ll. 22–23). Benjamin interprets this turn of

understanding the activity of art. An activity is the realization of a principle. Force and faculty are two opposing ways of understanding the principle and its realization” (Die Kraft der Kunst, 12). Menke reserves the qualification “poetic” for the (conscious) activity of a faculty in order to differentiate it from, and in order ultimately to affirm, the (unconscious) “aesthetic” capacity of force. Yet to the extent that it is the “realization of a principle,” the unconscious activity of

second (Marx) considers every revolt as part of the unfolding revolutionary mission to suspend the existence of class. But Agamben is most interested in a third possibility (exemplified by Benjamin), which extends the “indiscernability” of worldly and messianic vocation to awareness of vocation as such. According to this interpretation, self-consciousness is revoked by the call to political being as not. This third version of messianic vocation, Agamben observes: plays on the absolute

Stuttgart: Kohlammer. Howells, Bernard. Baudelaire: Individualism, Dandyism, and the Philosophy of History. Oxford: Legenda, 1996. Hugo, Victor. Œuvres poétiques. Vol. 1. Paris: Gallimard, 1964. Husserl, Ideas Pertaining to a Pure Phenomenology and to a Phenomenological Philosophy: Third Book, Phenomenology and the Foundation of Sciences. Vol. 2 of Collected Works. Trans. F. Kersten. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1998.  Bibliography ———. Ideen zu einer reinen Phänomenologie und

work to the theory of a force exceeding the cognitive determination of what he describes as empiricist “mythology”—of an a priori ability making reason possible and, as suggested by the phrase cited above as an epigraph, clearing the ground for its exercise (GS 2.1: 161; SW 1: 103–4). In this sense Benjamin’s critical project is fundamentally directed toward the thinking of the peculiar temporal simultaneity characteristic of the nonempirical community to which Kant alludes in the Critique of

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