American Metempsychosis:Emerson, Whitman, and the New Poetry
Emerson, Whitman, and the New Poetry
Publication Year: 2012
Published by: Fordham University Press
Title Page, Copyright
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I have benefitted from the support and friendship of numerous people while writing this book—and I would have been unable to persevere without them. I begin by thanking Alan Ackerman for his sure-sighted counsel and steadfast belief in this project; Malcolm Woodland whose warm words of confidence and encouragement I will...
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In the painting Jacob’s Ladder (1800), William Blake illustrates the nature of the Romantic reconception of human consciousness. At the bottom of the canvas, Jacob lies sleeping, his head resting by the foot of a spiral stair that circles upward through the star-filled sky and finally into the sun itself. Upon the stairway..
1 /The Metempsychotic Mind
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In the last three decades, the widespread understanding of Ralph Waldo Emerson as a philosopher of metaphysical unity has given way to a more postmodern appraisal. Scholars have come to view Emerson’s thought as a contemplative progression where no determination can be final, since the process itself is perpetually...
2 /The Double Consciousness
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According to many contemporary scholars, Emerson does not accept any preestablished philosophical position, but exercises a type of radical, individualistic freedom by taking various views in hand and escaping them. He is consistent only in one venture: he takes “the risk of exalting transition for its own sake.”1 Indeed, Emerson...
3 /Reading the Metempsychotic Text
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In the last three decades, scholars have come to appreciate some of the complexity of perception in Emerson’s thought, questioning the earlier consensus that his notion of sight expresses primarily a desire for unity. Indeed, Emerson’s very first published pronouncement of the eye’s transcendent power evokes critical uncertainty because of its contradictory evocations: “I become a transparent...
4 /Writing the Metempsychotic Text
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While there is a propensity to interpret Whitman’s poetry in the poetically secular terms of the twentieth century, a number of critics have come to emphasize the mystical and religious tenor of Whitman’s writing. Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, for instance, scholars sought to uncover the Hindu influences in...
5 /The New Poetry
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In “Song of Myself,” Walt Whitman portrays his own poetic evolution with the image of a stairway. Standing on the top rung of a flight of steps, the poet has earned, after “trillions of winters and summers,” a new power to “launch all men and women forward with [him] into the Unknown.”1 In mounting the staircase and assimilating...
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In the ancient world, the various types of metempsychosis that we see in Hinduism, Buddhism, Pythagoreanism, Platonism, and Neoplatonism are part of a cosmological scheme in which the soul or the self undergoes successive incarnations or transformations. The ultimate goal of the transmigrations that...
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Page Count: 254
Publication Year: 2012