I apologize for my long absence. February was a long and trying month. I went to New York for a weekend, was rejected from the academy (I guess I need a year off anyway), and generally died of a head cold. But here I am, back to the important academic work that I pay so much to do. Expect more posts, final papers are coming up, and I have to work out my ideas.
So for today, I have a quote from C.S. Lewis that I would like to ponder a bit. It comes from his book A Preface to Paradise Lost, which oddly happens to be about Milton's amazing epic. Here is the quote:
(I really hate doing block quotes in Blogger - Mer)The permanence, the indifference, the heartrending or consoling fact that whether we laugh or weep the world is what it is, always enters into our experience and plays no small part in that pressure of reality which is one of the differences between life and imagined life.(pg 23)
Lewis's sentiment is one that in many ways is of an academic worldview that has been understated in the past few decades. With the rise of post-structuralist, constructionist, and reader-response literary criticism, it seems as if the world and its materiality are things that are to be affected, even effected, by humanity. The creative and imaginative moment has taken on the central focus. The world is no longer an essential, stable, graspable icon, but rather a mutable, human creation.
Yet despite these numerous theoretical approaches, the fact still remains that the world is in a sense a constant. Unless we find a way to actually destroy this planet, it will go on without us. Yes, it will be different, but still here. More importantly, the mark of humanity is in actuality a small one in the world's history. It is this idea that makes Lewis's adjectives "heartrending or consoling" all the more poignant. There is a sense that no matter how bad things seem; we can always subscribe to a greater narrative, a greater history. Of course, the reverse is that our lives are so insignificant, so minute.
While I could go on discussing the existential questions that arise from Lewis, I would prefer to refocus my discussion back to those theories I mentioned earlier. I find the quote so interesting in that it reminds me that there is a material world that does affect us as much as we affect it. Granted, I think that our understanding of this world is one that we create, is a moment of imaginative experience. But there are materials behind that experience. We create our world from something that is real.
As such, I think that our approach to more post-structuralist understandings of humanity must be done with a bit more complexity. We must quit eliding the real, even if the real itself is an idea we have created. In a sense, there is something real behind the real.
I know that I am just rambling - but I would still love to hear your thoughts. I definitely have something wrong, but I don't what. I know that I need to work on defining my terms more. Help Please!
-Your Humble Author