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The Poet as a Man of Action:
Emersonian Reflections on Williams' The Wedge

Alec Marsh

This essay argues for the usefulness of Richard Poirier's work on the significance of Emerson and William James for understanding William Carlos Williams. Though his intellectual links to the pragmatist John Dewey are well known, few have pursued the Emersonian attitude in Williams, which can be traced back through Ernest Fenollosa's galvanizing essay The Chinese Written Character as a Medium for Poetry, first edited and published by Ezra Pound in 1918, which reveals Fenollosa's heavy debt to William James and so in turn, shows James's reliance on the work of his god-father, Emerson. This Emersonian tradition has been articulated most fully by Poirier and his students. But this tradition is really better termed an active, attentive attitude towards experience. Pragmatism comes from the Greek word for action, pµa (pragma). Its primary activity is an active skepticism about philosophical skepticism concerning "practical consequences." Pragmatism is, James reminds us, "a method of settling metaphysical disputes that otherwise would be interminable" (WWJ 377). But it is more than a way of cutting metaphysical Gordian knots, pragmatism is a process of truth making; truths are made not found; truth is not a "stagnant property" inherent in an idea, but an activity, a "process of valid-ation," James stresses. For Williams, as for other poets in the Emersonian line like Wallace Stevens, truth "must change" (SE 208).

Specifically, I want to make the case for the efficacy of Poirier's approach to Williams' war book, The Wedge. I will claim that Williams got much of his James indirectly though Fenollosa, and finally I will propose that we read The Wedge along with its famous introduction as an expression of the Jamesian branch of Emersonian pragmatism. If we do so, we grasp better Williams' creative violence and his quarrel with petrified public power.

Despite his wish in the "Author's Introduction" to The Wedge that "the metaphysical" should "take care of itself, the arts have nothing to do with it" (CPWCW2 54), Williams' relationship to philosophy and to the act of thinking demands clarification. Throughout the nineteen-eighties and nineties critics struggled to make sense of Williams' attempt to overcome "metaphysics." Specifically they resisted the subject/object binary that had underwritten western philosophy since Descartes, and even to over-ride the poetic implications of modern philosophy altogether; that is, all the problems of philosophical dualism: subject vs. object, the mind vs. the embodied world, words vs. things—in short, "the language problem" that has vexed 20th century philosophy. One almost wants to call Williams' life project "a reply to Descartes with the bare hands!" In recent decades critics have quarreled over whether Williams was an idealist in the Romantic and transcendental tradition or whether he was materialist as his well known formulation "no ideas but in things" seems at first to imply: the objectivist Williams. Some critics, including Carl Rapp and Donald Markos find a transcendental strain of Romantic Idealism in Williams, while others, like J. Hillis Miller and Joseph Riddel, detect a nascent "post-modernism." Stanley Koehler and Zhiaoming Qian have even argued that Williams' way out of the metaphysical dilemma was in effect Taoist. Both of these latter moves are attempts either to deconstruct or evade philosophical dualism. Even if we believe, with Henry Sayre in The Visual Text of Williams Carlos Williams that "rather than giving up the dualism of subject and object which is so central to western thought, Williams embraced it" (5), Williams' philosophical struggle seems the place where all criticism of the poet starts and most of it ends.

Any way critics look at the poetry, metaphysics does have something to do with it. Some philosophy is necessary because Williams was engaged in a classic struggle to know reality through representation in language and therefore through a poetics oppressed by the problems of what is really real, and what is translatable into language. For the poet that means "the virtual impossibility of lifting [via writing] to the imagination those things which lie under the direct scrutiny of the senses" (SE 11). Here, Williams admits a kind of literary skepticism that aligns him with Emerson and James, who wrote in "The Stream of Thought" that "language works against our perception of truth" (qtd. RL 15) because it prefers substantives to transitions. James, like Emerson before him, sees the movement of thought as closer to the truth; scrutiny does not fix, but flux. "Every solid in the universe is ready to become fluid at the approach of mind," Emerson wrote in "Fate," "and the power to flux it is the measure of mind." (E 964.) To "flux" things not only illustrates the volatility of things—including words and even concepts—it suggests the power of transitions, which are a central concern for pragmatism, the operational arm or method of "radical empiricism."

A few critics have noticed that Williams found his solution in pragmatism, the American attitude towards experience of Emerson, William James, John Dewey, and Kenneth Burke. I have suggested that Williams' Paterson be read as the pragmatic poem and others (Ian Copestake and Michael Magee, to name two) have marked the influence of Emerson, James, and Dewey on Williams. Brian Bremen and Magee extend the reach of pragmatism to include Williams' friend Kenneth Burke and so implicate Williams further in the pragmatic attitude—an attitude I like to think of as skepticism about skepticism. Though Burke's own eulogistic appreciation of Williams (now found in Burke's Language as a Symbolic Action) fails to mention any pragmatic leanings in the poet, Magee has noticed that Burke, in describing poetic language as a language of symbolic action, regarded readers' proper approach to it as a series of provisional interpretations, as an increasingly thick description, as "pragmatic." Burke says that "the poem's structure is to be described most accurately by thinking always of the poem's function. It assumes that the poem is designed to ‘do something’ for the poet and his readers..." (PLM 89, qtd. Magee 17).1 According to Burke, the reader is to approach the poem as though the poem is an "embodiment" of its own act. The poem is a body, an "anatomical structure" given life by the poet, and the reader breathes into it "a new physiological vitality that resembles, although with a difference, the act of its maker" (PLM 90). These medical metaphors are known to have surfaced in Williams' frequent exchanges by letter and in person with Burke; Williams was a physician, after all, and it is reasonable to think that they may stem originally from Dr. Williams himself. The title of Williams' philosophical effort, The Embodiment of Knowledge, could almost serve as a caption to Burke's attitude toward the text of the poem as the place where writer and reader meet.2

In fact, as the work of Richard Poirier and his students has shown,3 pragmatism is the philosophical attitude adopted by several American writers of note, including Williams. Although Poirier condescends to him (see RL 25, P&P 16, 31), his two books The Renewal of Literature: Emersonian Reflections (1987) and Poetry & Pragmatism (1992) are deeply relevant to an understanding of Williams. His student Jonathan Levin's The Poetics of Transition: Emerson, Pragmatism and Literary Modernism (1999) (which does not address Williams either) could have seamlessly added a chapter on Williams' own "poetics of transition." I know that Copestake has made use of Poirier, most recently in a brief article about Spring & All4, and I want to stress that these works should be crucial for Williams studies, because they emphasize Emerson's "linguistic skepticism," his awareness that written language is always inadequate to the task set for it of negotiating faithfully the transitions between world and self—between, in Williams' words, the senses and the imagination. For Poirier, Emerson is an exhilarating writer whose "unrelenting flexibility of language" (P&P 10) demands an agile reader; his Emerson is far from the Pangloss of Concord patronized by generations of academics and well-meaning goody-goodies who quote him without understanding him. One might say that Poirier's Emerson is to the English (or should I say the American) language, what Nietzsche (who read Emerson) is to German; that is to say: "Dynamite!"

Poirier's ultimate touchstone in Emerson comes from “The American Scholar,” Emerson's address to the Harvard Phi Beta Kappa Society in 1837 (Henry Thoreau was in the audience): "there can be no scholar without the heroic mind. The preamble of thought, the transition through which it passes from the unconscious to the conscious, is action...The true scholar grudges every opportunity of action past by, as a loss of power" (E 60). Poirier links this to a passage from "Self-Reliance": "Power ceases in the instant of repose; it resides in the moment of transition from a past to a new state, the shooting of the gulf, in the darting to an aim" (E 271).5 Action is not only out there; it is in here. Poirier explains: "'action' is meant to describe a heroic attempt to make oneself conscious of things before they go public, as it were, before they can be known publicly by virtue of having passed into language" (P&P 25). James writes that we "glimpse things ‘on the wing’ so to speak—and only in flight" (WWJ 44). James continues in another place, "We may glimpse it, but we never grasp it; what we grasp is always some substitute for it which previous human thinking has peptonized and cooked for our consumption" (qtd. P&P 26, WWJ 453). Williams' version might be this from The Wedge. The poem is "To All Gentleness":

Bombs away! And the packed word descends—
And rightly so.
The arrow! The arrow!

This arrow is, I think, Williams' equivalent image of James's sense of the winged transition between unconsciousness and consciousness. Williams continues by enacting the loss of poetic power as his words evade his grasp:

Only . . . that is . . .
the moment is lost! Without us, the
completion, the learned moment. The gates
opened, it also falls away, unrecognized! (WCWCP2 71)

The word is a bomb. So, what is interesting in Emerson and what makes him relevant to Williams is not spirit as a transcendent ideal, but power. And power resides in transition, which is the "energizing spirit"(qtd. P&P 28), which must be kept always in a state of becoming and must never be "cooked for our consumption" because, at that moment, it becomes the state of having been, it becomes the past. Both Emerson and Williams want to live like Thoreau, "in the nick" of time; both prefer the raw to the cooked.6 As Poirier insists, "Emerson is forever trying to liberate himself and his readers from the consequences of his own writing, not merely the consequences of other people's writing" (P&P 27-8). In this Emerson shows close affinities to, and shares anxieties with Williams, who worries that "the completion, the learned moment"—or is it the learnéd moment?—means... that "the moment is lost!" The instant the word is written, or the bomb released, is the moment it "falls away,/ unrecognized." Williams wants us to hear the last word literally: un-re-cognized—not to be known again.

"The poetics of transition," suits William James's "radical empiricism," which assumes "a pluralistic universe" and is mainly concerned with the connections and transitions between things or states, rather than the things themselves. Jamesian philosophy is all about how things "hang together" (James's emphasis WWJ 407). It is determined to account for "plain conjunctive experience," to insist that experience simply is conjunctive. "Life is in the transitions as much as in the terms connected," he writes (WWJ 212-3). "In passing from one of my own moments to another the sameness of object and interest is unbroken, and both earlier and the later experience are of things directly lived." He adds in "The World of Pure Experience," "There is no other nature, no other whatness than this absence of break and this sense of continuity in that most intimate of conjunctive relations, the passing of one experience into another when they belong to the same self" (WWJ 198). For James, there is no subject/object distinction in experience; the terms should be heuristic only.

Williams was not a philosopher. He was encumbered by a received Romantic vocabulary ("imagination") and a received Cartesian concentric architecture of the senses peripheral to the imagination which itself is constitutionally bent on deceiving the mind—that hermit at the center, which knows itself only by its lonesome cogitations on the doubtful perceptual input contrived by a world that may not even be really there. A physician, therefore a materialist and a scientist deeply engaged with the world of raw experience, Williams tried mightily to modify the philosophical language he knew to new purposes, struggling to be true to his experience, which recognized transitions in experience, but not gaps. Critics who don't grasp pragmatism are buffaloed by Williams' seeming stubbornness in resisting dualism; Stanley Koehler shakes his head and concludes that for the poet "the conflicting claims of reality and the imagination are never resolved" (34)7 without realizing that for the pragmatist such resolution is death itself. Thus Williams persistently, almost obsessively, tries to face these seemingly competing claims. Dualism and its problems are ceaselessly negotiated in his poetry and prose writings, most often through transformations and transitions sanctioned by the Emersonian tradition, which, again, is really an active attitude of skepticism towards skepticism we call pragmatism. Williams' poetics certainly conforms with a vengeance to Jonathan Levin's claim in The Poetics of Transition that "the poetics of transition is stimulated by a core dissatisfaction with all definite, definitive formulations, be they concepts, metaphors, or larger formal structures" (Levin x). Williams' work is also complicated by the problems which follow from this restlessness: the reluctant acknowledgement that without concepts, metaphors, and formal structures, communication is very difficult (Levin x). The poetics of transition refuses "resolution" along with many, perhaps all, of the consolations of the definite. Maybe this is why critics have had so much trouble nailing down important aspects of his poetics, and practice. He keeps slipping away: "The poet isn't a fixed phenomenon, no more his work" Williams insists with some asperity in the "Author's Introduction" to The Wedge (WCWCP2 53).

Did Williams read James? We know that James bequeathed Emerson's poetics of transition to the more prosaic Dewey, who we know Williams read and responded to in The Embodiment of Knowledge, a book Kenneth Burke found embarrassingly imitative of Dewey. It is less clear that Williams actually read James. But he was completely taken with the work of Gertrude Stein, James's student, as he was with Joyce's fiction, and it widely accepted that Joyce's "stream of consciousness" derives from James's "Stream of Thought," a chapter in Principles of Psychology (1890).

Most likely, Williams got his James second-hand, as Pound did, by reading Ernest Fenollosa's The Chinese Character as a Medium for Poetry (1918)8—arguably, the most important statement of poetics for American writers in the twentieth century. The essay is an Emersonian grammar, a pastiche of James and Emerson, whose work Fenollosa was teaching in Japan. Nowhere is the "poetics of transition" more articulate. To Fenollosa, the ideograms seem alive: "Like nature, the Chinese words are alive and plastic, because thing and action are not formally separated" (CWC 17; Fenollosa's emphasis). "The form of the Chinese transitive sentence," Fenollosa claimed, "and of the English (omitting particles), exactly corresponds to this universal form of action in nature" (CWC 13). Or as Emerson more succinctly put it "Words are also actions and actions are a kind of words" (E 450). Fenollosa's nature permeates language, soaking through the world/self, reality/imagination barriers set up by modern philosophy.

Echoing, or perhaps simply rephrasing James's "conjunctions are as primordial elements of 'fact' as are distinctions and disjunctions" (WWJ 216), Fenollosa notes that in nature "relations are more real and more important than the things which they relate" (CWC 22). We read that "A true noun, an isolated thing, does not exist in nature. Things are only the terminal points, or rather the meeting points, of actions, cross-sections cut through actions, snap-shots" (CWC 10). Surely Fenollosa has James's notion of "the stream of consciousness," as expressed in Principles of Psychology (1890), in mind. "We ought to say," James suggests, "a feeling of and, a feeling of if, a feeling of but, and a feeling of by quite as readily as we say a feeling of blue or a feeling of cold. Yet, we do not, so inveterate has our habit become of recognizing the substantive parts [of speech and experience] alone, that language almost refuses to lend itself to any other use." We make the error, he concludes, "of supposing that where there is no name, no entity can exist" (WWJ 38; James's emphasis). In "The Stream of Thought" James uses architectural sections and even an isometric drawing attempt to give shape to thought (WWJ 68-9). All of this has a bearing on "Pragmatism's Conception of Truth," to invoke a later essay. To the pragmatist, in the Emersonian tradition, truth is not inert, but active. When you know something, James says, "You're in possession"—an active state: "The possession of true thoughts means everywhere the possession of invaluable instruments of action..." (WWJ 430, 431).

Williams repeats this stress on action in his "Author's Introduction" to The Wedge, which I propose we read as an important addition to the literature of pragmatism. In the introduction Williams positions himself in relation to the Second World War, "which is the first and only thing in the world today." The arts and his own poetry are not an escape from the conflict. It (art) "is the war," Williams stresses, "or part of it, merely a different sector of the field" (CPWW2 53). Here, he seems to be repeating Burke who, in "Semantic and Poetic Meaning," an essay of the 1930's, wrote that poetic writing "contend[s] by implication, that true knowledge can only be attained through the battle, stressing the role of the participant [over that of the observer],who in the course of his participation, it is hoped, will define situations with sufficient realistic accuracy to prepare an image for action" (PLF 150; Burke's emphasis). Action: that pragmatic, Emersonian term again.

As his introduction continues, Williams situates his own poetic campaign between Socialism and Freud, almost as if he'd been reading Civilization and its Discontents. In the socialist utopia, it is supposed that art will be unnecessary, but this is "an error attributable to the Freudian concept" that the arts are symptoms of "frustration." Williams insists on action, "They speak as though action itself in all its phases were not compatible with frustration." He complains, "All action the same." Didn't Richard Lionheart, the quintessential man of action, write "one of the finest lyrics of his day"? (WCWCP2 53).

In "Against the Weather," an essay many consider to be derived from the introduction to The Wedge, Williams announces that "The artist is to be conceived as the universal man of action ...the most effective of all men" (SE 197), a claim that updates "The American Scholar," where the true scholar "grudges every opportunity of action passed by as a loss of power" (E 60). The title of Williams' 1948 talk, "The Poem as a Field of Action," looks back to the Wedge introduction by explicitly linking poetry itself to a battlefield. So, "The war is the first and only thing in the world today" can be translated as 'writing the poem is the first and only thing' and is thus allied to Emerson's belief that words are actions: "Homer's words are as costly and admirable to Homer," Emerson writes in "The Poet," "as Agamemnon's victories are to Agamemnon" (E 449). The poet is equivalent to the heroic man of action because language is part of what Fenollosa calls "the universal form of action in nature," an action which, properly understood, means the transition from unconscious to conscious mind, the moment the bomb is dropped, or as Williams puts it, less violently, in "Writer's Prologue to a Play in Verse," the way we view a play and see it in our minds and "turn it about" "chang[ing] it after a pattern/ which is the mind itself, turning/ and twisting the theme until it gets/ a meaning or finds no meaning and / is dropped" (WCWCP2 59).

To use Levin's language, Williams "pursues habits of awareness that resist collapsing into positive beliefs" (Levin xii); for Williams that meant finding the form as he went, not deciding a priori what the form of a poem should be. Pragmatism's rejection of a priori forms helped Williams justify his seemingly formless poetry, from the "variable foot" to the shapeless but contingent and local sprawl of Paterson.

For Williams, as for other poets writing under the sign of pragmatism, "everything turns on the quality of alertness to possibilities of meaning as they lurk in the always dynamic margins of experience" (Levin xii): dynamic margins, not preconceived boundaries. This is the meaning of the image of the snake in "A Sort of A Song" who "wait[s] under/ his weed/ and the writing/ be of words, slow and quick, sharp/ to strike, quiet to wait,/ sleepless" (WCWCP2 55). The snake in the weeds can be taken as meaning lurking in the dynamic margins of experience with language, including writing. The weeds flourish outside the formal gardens of verse, as the snake comes from outside the ordered boundaries and graveled walks of Eden. The Emersonian writer, like Williams, finds that "the only sin is limitation" (E 406). In "Intellect" Emerson claims that "intellect," like Milton's Satan, "pierces the form, overleaps the wall" (E 417). In Williams' more violent and warlike image: "The impasse becomes a door when the wall/ is leveled" (WCWCP2 56).

In sum, Williams' poetics are deeply marked by the pragmatic inheritance from Emerson. The typical Williams poem, both his lyrics and especially Paterson, enacts not only what Levin has called "the poetics of transition" but also the politics of transition. This aspect of the pragmatic tradition, Levin reminds us, goes beyond our usual sense of Dewey's intentional linkage of pragmatism to "specific, often radically democratic political perspectives." Pragmatism can lead us to more unsettling and unsettled Emersonian beliefs, including that the life of the republic must not be fixed, even by its State documents, that the Constitution, the Declaration and other "sacred texts" of our democracy are useful only as they resist codification and institutionalization; like all texts, they too are to be fluxed, not fixed (see PT 91-116). Jamesian pluralism of course implies a democratic, multi-party state because it promotes a plurality of discourses, it decries dogma and doctrine and offers instead a dogged and implicitly revolutionary belief in what James called in a letter "the eternal forces of truth which always work in the individual and immediately unsuccessful way, under-dogs always, until history comes, after they are long dead, and puts them on top." These forces seep through dominant, encrusted ideologies, but not as a kind of deconstructive skepticism, rather as "molecular moral forces," the various and pluralistic life forces, I suppose—a concept Williams will call love. These small forces (so like Williams' small poems) are against "bigness and greatness in all their forms" as they "work from individual to individual, stealing in through the crannies of the world like so many soft rootlets, or like the capillary oozing of water, and yet rending the hardest monuments of man's pride, if you give them time" (qtd. in Levin 60). This metaphor is strikingly like the image of the flower splitting the rock, or displacing ash and rubble that recurs throughout The Wedge.

The liberating potential of active love in the form of a poem is implicit in all of Williams work, and for this reason and in spite of the on-going war against fascism, his criticism of the failure of the American democracy in practice is unrelenting. In The Wedge we see it in his brutal juxtaposition of "red brick monastery" and the "subterranean/ munitions plant"—they are "Semblables" (84) in the 1943 poem of that title. In the poem "In Chains" he calls the authorities in the United States "blackguards and murderers" who "under cover of their offices/ accuse the world of those villanies/ which they themselves invent/ to torture us," arguing that we have no choice but to be like them unless we learn from their bad example how to "avoid being as they are" by choosing love, which he imagines as a flower rising out of its own ashes, something persistent and individual and perhaps not immediately successful. Nonetheless, our way out of mental slavery is to actively "water it, tie up the slender/ stem and keep the image of its lively flower chiseled upon our minds"(65). Against the stony fixity of corrupt discursive formations of public power, against "bigness and greatness," always the lively, gentle but quietly violent flower, which he says in another poem, "To All Gentleness," "is our sign," the sign of the pragmatic, poetic imagination, which is in political terms a kind of revolutionary vitality asserting itself despite all odds. "Where does the imagination begin?" he asks. Is the core of the imagination violence or gentleness? Both perhaps, both are integral to the green life:

Slender green Reaching up from sand and rubble (the
anti-poetic they say ignorantly, a
dissociation) premising the flower without which, no flower (72).

The poetic imagination is like this milkweed on the bare embankment, reaching up from and through the supposedly anti-poetic but in actuality necessary cultural detritus (here sand and rubble, but love's ashes in the previous poem) and premising a flower, or poem. Like "the saxifrage that splits the rocks" (55) the poetic imagination is the countervailing power of "that gentleness that harbors all violence, the valid juxtaposition" (CPWCW2 72) of particulars that makes images. The poet's act is to make "juxtapositions/ impossible otherwise to accomplish" (CPWCW2 81) as he says in another poem, "A Vision of Labor: 1931," which title suggests its reconstructive political potential.9

In "The Controversy," a kind of philosophical dialogue about "business" that I read as the poet's Emersonian case against the categorical prejudices of merely utilitarian and instrumental reason, the poet retorts to the Architect (perhaps his brother Edgar) and the Executive that he can read and "collate experiences/ you never dreamed" because the unfixed and unlimited form of the poem allows him to "collate" what to them seem like "unrelated statements." The poet does this because he is engaged in "premising the flower"; that is to say he is engaged in poetic action, the "driving forward of desire to a complex end," which, he says in the "Author's Introduction" to The Wedge, is the continuous "war that artists live and breathe by" (CPWCW2 53,55).

There is plenty of more or less explicit politics in The Wedge, but throughout there is a pragmatic and Phoenix-like (SE 208) politics of reconstruction and renewal, which finds constructive energy in the juxtaposition—in James's language "the conjunctive relations"—between things that appear to those of conventional mind like the Executive as shockingly disparate categories: a monastery and a munitions plant, or "two young rubber-booted ditch-diggers/ beside the bed of a dying bishop/ cracking obscene jokes/ at the expense of the flabby woman in/ the white bathing suit" (81). As Williams himself indicates in "A Vision of Labor: 1931," to make that juxtaposition is at the heart of the poetic act and near the origin of imagination itself: "That's it! There, There!/ That's the answer. The thing to be/ done." To juxtapose the properly un-juxtaposable is the proper poetic act, because it fluxes unconscious categories we call logic.

The Wedge is called so because its task is to "wedge the skulls" of Williams readers "ever wider" (CPWCW2 69); to force us to accept conjunctive relations—i.e. transitions—that we have not yet attempted to imagine. To do so is to reimagine the world so that it can be reborn and reconstructed. As the poet said in 1951 about "Burning the Christmas Greens," "no one can escape the conclusion that this poem envisages a rebirth of the 'state' perhaps but certainly of the mind following the destruction of the shibboleths of tradition which often comfort it" (CPWCW2 460n-461n); the same is true for The Wedge as a whole.


1 Burke's hint was taken up and codified in M.H. Abrams' classic The Mirror and the Lamp (1953).
2 Brian Bremen's William Carlos Williams and the Diagnostics of Culture fleshes out the implications, aesthetic, medical and political, in full.
3 I am Poirier's student. Besides Levin, former student James Albrecht extends Poirier and pragmatism to include Ralph Ellison., and David Evans to include William Faulkner.
4 William Carlos Williams Rev. 24.2, 5-9.
5 For all of us in Poirier's seminars, this linkage was the key that unlocked everything. Levin quotes this passage in the second sentence of his book (See Levin ix).
6 And see the first stanza of the sarcastic "These Purists": "Lovely! All the essential parts,/ like an oyster without a shell/fresh and sweet tasting to be/swallowed, chewed and swallowed." (WCWCP2 80).
7 A recent dissertation by Paul Brennan, The Institution of Art as a Problem in the Poetry of William Carlos Williams (University of Nottingham, 2000) written from a Marxist and thus a moralistic 'metaphysical' perspective, is critical of Williams for failing to resolve these basic problems, which Brennan blames on Williams' intractable "petit-bourgeois" class-affiliations.
8 Poirier nods to this link. See P&P 31.
9 In Reconstruction in Philosophy (1920), Dewey discusses James's "philosophy of vision" and notes "that its chief function is to free men's minds from bias and prejudice and to enlarge their perceptions of the world around them" (21).

Work Cited

Burke, Kenneth. The Philosophy of Literary Form. Berkeley. U. of Calif. P. 1973.

Dewey, John. Reconstruction in Philosophy (1920). Boston. Beacon Press. 1957.

Emerson, Ralph Waldo. Emerson: Essays and lectures. Joel Porte ed. NY. Library of America. 1983.

Fenollosa, Ernest. The Chinese Written Character as a Medium for Poetry (1918). Ezra Pound ed. S.F. City Lights. n.d.

James, William. The Writings of William James: A Comprehensive Edition. John J. McDermott ed. U. of Chicago. P. 1977.

Koehler, G. Stanley. Countries of the Mind: The Poetry of William Carlos Williams. Lewisburg. Bucknell UP. 1999.

Levin, Jonathan. The Poetics of Transition: Emerson, Pragmatism and Literary Modernism. Durham. Duke UP. 1999.

Magee, Michael. Emancipating Pragmatism: Emerson, Jazz and Experimental Writing. Tuscaloosa. U. of Alabama P. 2004.

Mariani, Paul. William Carlos Williams: A New World Naked. NY. W.W. Norton. 1981.

Poirier, Richard. Poetry and Pragmatism. Cambridge. Harvard UP. 1992.

-------. The Renewal of Literature: Emersonian Reflections. NY. Random House. 1987.

Sayre, Henry. The Visual Text of Williams Carlos Williams. Urbana. U of Illinois P. 1983.

Williams, William Carlos. Autobiography. NY. New Directions. 1970.

-------. The Collected Poems of William Carlos Williams, Vol. 2:1939-1962. NY. New Directions. 1986.

-------. The Embodiment of Knowledge. NY. New Directions. 1974.

-------. Selected Essays (1954). NY. New Directions. 1969.

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