The reduction of metaphysics and the play of violence in the poetry of Wallace Stevens
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The thesis demonstrates how Wallace Stevens' poetry utilises pre-Socratic philosophy in overcoming post-Kantian dislocation from the 'thing-in-itself'. I initially consider Stevens’ poetry in terms of Hans-Georg Gadamer's ontological conception of the 'play' of art, an interactive existence overlooked by Kant. Through the ‘play’ of Stevens’ poems the reading audience are implicated in their reduction to being. The origin of this conception leads Gadamer back to Parmenides who Stevens had read. I argue that Stevens’ poetry ‘plays’ its audience into an ontological ground in an effort to show that his ‘reduction of metaphysics’ is not dry philosophical imposition, but is enacted by our encounter with the poems themselves. Through an analysis of how the language and form of Stevens’ poems attempt to reduce mind and world to concepts that parallel Parmenides’ poetic sense of being, and Heraclitus’ notion of becoming, the thesis uncovers the ground in which Stevens attempts a reconnection with the ‘thing-in-itself’. It is through the experience of reconnecting to an ontological centre, which his poetry presents as the human project, that Stevens’ poetry also presents itself as a means of replacing religion.From here we turn to Emmanuel Levinas and Jacques Derrida for an exposition of how such a reduction reduces the ‘Other’ to ‘otherness’ and their worry that this reduction legitimates violence within the thought of Martin Heidegger and Parmenides. From this I make a case for how such reductions are connected to what I refer to as 'the play of violence' in Stevens' poetry, and to refer this violence back to the mythology Stevens' poetry shares with certain pre-Socratics and with Greek tragedy. This shows how such mythic rhythms are apparent within the work of Friedrich Nietzsche, Heidegger and Gadamer, and how these rhythms release a poetic understanding of the violence of a ‘reduction of metaphysics’.
AuthorsTompsett, Daniel Charles
- Theses