- On What Cannot Be Said: Apophatic Discourses in Philosophy, Religion, Literature, and the Arts, Volume 1: Classical Formulations ed. by William Franke, and: On What Cannot Be Said: Apophatic Discourses in Philosophy, Religion, Literature, and the Arts, Volume 2: Modern and Contemporary Transformations ed. by William Franke (review)
- Christianity & Literature
- Johns Hopkins University Press
- Volume 59, Number 2, Winter 2010
- pp. 373-381
- View Citation
- Additional Information
BOOK REVIEWS 373 literature if more attention were paid to the roles that reading and the portrayal of reading play in the cultural transmission of ethical and aesthetic ideas and ideals. Stock'schoice to end with Coleridge and Schopenhauer is curious, particularly because he seems to take their analyses of fancy,imagination, and mind so seriously. Thesewriters do not offerviewsofthe mind that are wellsupported bycontemporary work on the nature of consciousness or perception, such as Marvin Minsky's studies at MIT. Moreover, neither Coleridge's criticism nor Schopenhauer's World as Will and Idea are notable for clarity. If Stock means to make a more general point that the English Romantics and the German philosophers after Kant were part of a larger reversal of the respective roles of aesthetic judgment and ethical judgment, then he might have made a more extensive case by citing additional figures or at least by saying more about Kant's notion of the purposiveness without purpose that is art. He touches on Kant's later aesthetic only briefly. Readers of this journal who take an interest in Augustine, Dante, and their relationship to the views of art expressed by Aristotle, Plato, and others may find interesting analyses in Stock's study. Others may find this book stimulating in exactly the same way that it is stimulating to read an essay by Montaigne or a section or two of Pascal'sPensees-to be faced with a challenging viewpoint or to be given a fresh perspective. Stock'sConclusion restates the argument of the bookwell, though this critic must finish by observing that there are probably many riches in Brian Stock'sthinking about his topic that would have been clearer had he written a longer book that presented each of the strands of this study more explicitly.Stock does not present a study that is specifically informed by a Christian viewpoint, though of course he offers many rich observations about the reception and uses of reading in medieval literature as well as in medieval Christian monasteries. Schopenhauer, of course, was deeply influenced by his reading of Buddhist texts and by his fascination with the Buddhist understanding of compassion. To read Stock is to re-enter the world and the worldview of Ernst Curtius. In Stock's case, the topos is the scene where reading takes place, and the historical task is to see the relationships among scenes of reading in major and minor literary works in the context of classical and Christian views of the value of art. This is a comforting and familiar world, though perhaps not the world we now inhabit. Thomas Trzyna Seattle Pacific University On What Cannot Be Said: Apophatic Discourses in Philosophy, Religion, Literature, and the Arts, Volume 1: Classical Formulations. Edited by William Franke. Notre Dame, Indiana: University of Notre Dame Press, 2007. ISBN 0-26802884 -2 (cloth); ISBN 0-268-02882-6 (pbk). Pp. xi +401. $70.00 (cloth); $35.00 (pbk). 374 CHRISTIANITY AND LITERATURE On What Cannot Be Said: Apophatic Discourses in Philosophy, Religion, Literature, and the Arts, Volume 2: Modern and Contemporary Transformations. Edited by William Franke. Notre Dame, Indiana: University of Notre Dame, 2007. ISBN 0-268002885-0 (cloth); ISBN 0-268-02883-4 (pbk). Pp. viii + 480. $80.00 (cloth); $40.00 (pbk). There is an inevitability to this anthology of apophatic discourses, or so we will have perceived after reading William Franke's enlightening "theoretical and critical essays" introducing each volume of On What Cannot Be Said: Apophatic Discourses in Philosophy, Religion, Literature, and the Arts. If Franke is indeed correct, we have never not been immersed in the apophatic, and in this age, "postmodern," "post-secular;' or post-whatever depending upon your academic camp, apophasis is a dominant discourse, whether we know it or not. Let me clarify this "we?' It certainly includes the academics, those in religion, philosophy, English, literature, and elsewhere, but it also includes the artists of our culture, the poets, the painters, the composers, and maybe we could include the academics in this category as well. Beyond these categories, though, we might suggest that the European and American cultures of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries are themselves...