Wednesday, October 17, 2007

I Can Be Quite Dense

I can be quite dense when it comes to understanding some authors.

Emily Dickinson is an author I have not been able to get close to. However, I am ever creeping toward some discovery. I am slowly developing a relationship with her.

I have been doing some reading lately about how her mind shifted from Puritanism to Transcendentalism.

According to Transcendentalism, we each have an "Over-soul," which is the means by which we are made one with every other thing. I am beginning to understand how Emily, perhaps, longed for spiritual nourishment but was unwilling to seek this within the confines of Puritanism. Rather, though her poetry, she sought to discover her "self."

In other words, the Punitan God is no longer the center of her world but rather something "unknown," something outside of what her mind could grasp:

I dwell in Possibility--

A fairer House than Prose--

More numerous of Windows--

Superior--for doors--

Of Chambers as the Cedars--

Impregnable of Eye--

And for an everlasting Roof

The Gambrels of the Sky--

Of Visitors--the fairest--

For Occupation--This--

The spreading wide my narrow Hands

To gather Paradise--

Here she goes beyond doctrine, beyond certainties: she moves toward essences. Possibility is poetry. Through the imagination, and alone, she can find Paradise (knowledge of self).

My reading and thinking have lately brought me closer to Emily Dickinson. I will continue to work at this.

PS. Over-soul is an idea discussed by Emerson:

"The Supreme Critic on the errors of the past and the present, and the only prophet of that which must be, is that great nature in which we rest, as the earth lies in the soft arms of the atmosphere; that Unity, that Over-soul, within which every man's particular being is contained and made one with all other; that common heart."

and ...

"We live in succession, in division, in parts, in particles. Meantime within man is the soul of the whole; the wise silence; the universal beauty, to which every part and particle is equally related, the eternal ONE. And this deep power in which we exist and whose beatitude is all accessible to us, is not only self-sufficing and perfect in every hour, but the act of seeing and the thing seen, the seer and the spectacle, the subject and the object, are one. We see the world piece by piece, as the sun, the moon, the animal, the tree; but the whole, of which these are shining parts, is the soul."

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"I was no better than dust, yet you cannot replace me. . . Take the soft dust in your hand--does it stir: does it sing? Has it lips and a heart? Does it open its eyes to the sun? Does it run, does it dream, does it burn with a secret, or tremble In terror of death? Or ache with tremendous decisions?. . ." --Conrad Aiken


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The Secret of Hurricanes : That article in the Waterville Scout said it was Shake- spearean, all that fatalism that guides the Kennedys' lives. The likelihood of untimely death. Recently, another one died in his prime, John-John in an airplane. Not long before that, Bobby's boy. While playing football at high speeds on snow skis. Those Kennedys take some crazy chances. I prefer my own easy ways. Which isn't to say my life hasn't been Shake-spearean. By the time I was sixteen, my life was like the darkened stage at the end of Hamlet or Macbeth. All littered with corpses and treachery.

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