Augenblick II

Hope this conversation isn’t getting too professorial!  Steve, yesterday, mentioned those ‘standout moments’ in Walden that we can return to again and again, and points out (lest we forget) that they are through and through literary moments — crafted and recrafted.  In that respect they are unlike many standout moments we experience outside any text.  “Thoreau’s accent on the present is a wonderfully deep topic, and these remarks barely scratch the surface.  There’s plenty of call for dialogue!”  In answer, we could  pursue several lines:

·      we could trace patterns among a series of standout moments within Walden;

·      we could trace patterns among one or another of Walden’s moments and moments or other materials from the wider Thoreauvian corpus;

·      we could trace patterns among Walden moments and moments in other literature; did Thoreau read Rousseau having an epiphany while looking skyward from the bottom of his boat in the middle of the lake? – Of course, Thoreau had his own moment in the middle of Walden.  The cross reference is illuminating — but why?

·      we could ask how literary moments aid and abet the luminosity and impact of non-literary moments, and ask how ‘pure’ a non-literary moment can be; a strike of thunder may make us jump – and then . . . [how many seconds or hours elapse?] then we think of Jove? Can I retrieve the innocence of the first startle? Can I see a pond and be struck by it utterly free of literary ‘pond’ resonances?  “In the beginning was the word . . . in the beginning was the deed . . .  in the beginning was thunder . . . or the Pond . . .


9 comments on “Augenblick II

  1. dmf says:

    yes while interacting with literary objects is not exactly the same as responding to say flesh and blood people or other critters who are at hand our experience is still a human one and not strictly speaking “literary”. And there are likely to be many kinds/types (in a loose Wittgensteinian familial ways of resembling) of such reactions, some of which will be perspicuous re-minders of other experiences and some of which will be novel (pardon the pun) as I was suggesting by raising the idea that Thoreau is crafting some poetic images that have no direct worldly correspondence and yet still strike us as meaningful. Also I think to follow Ed’s line of thought perhaps we should take “dialogue” as widely as possible and reflect on all of the kinds of things (animate and inanimate) that in common parlance we might say ‘call’ to us and or ‘speak’ to us.

    “we could ask how literary moments aid and abet the luminosity and impact of non-literary moments” this seems to be a central question and I think a largely wide-open one for a bit of phenomenological research.

  2. Steve says:

    All terrific suggestions. Another possibility would be to follow a individual theme throughout the book – the importance of being present, for example – with particular regard for how it develops or modulates in relation to other themes, its logical and textural consistency, so to speak. And you wouldn’t (probably shouldn’t) have to begin at the beginning. That would quickly become a forced march and lose all interest, I think. Rather you could pick out a favorite passage, think about it, discuss it, look at it from this side and that, then let it carry you naturally to others. I have found that it’s practically impossible to read a passage in Thoreau that doesn’t immediately suggest a half dozen others. It invites jumping around.

    On the other hand, Ed, I don’t think you’d want to make your too formal, or as you say, professorial. You’re already in the middle of one Thoreau seminar; you probably don’t need another on top of it. Besides, you’ve been on a roll lately, and I for one wouldn’t want to divert your wonderful energy. Bottom line: its your blog and your decision. Whatever you decide to do, I’m a dedicated follower. Carry on!

  3. dmfant says:
    Mountain and Rivers Without End, Gary Snyder

  4. Steve says:

    Ed, I just read for the first time – I mean really read – your astounding post of Aug. 15. The vibrating under-strings of the old Viola de Gamba, what a brilliant metaphor that is! The entire post, like so many here, communicates a palpable inward vibration to this old viola’s heartstrings. (Don’t I wish I made as pleasant a sound.)

    • efmooney says:

      What a pleasant and sympathetic sound and full of intelligence. Where would I be without you! I’ll throw you an Inward Morning any day! And know I’ll get it back still singing.

  5. Steve says:

    A very astute Peter O’Toole – and Orson Welles and Ernest Milton – on Hamlet. Unfortunately the tape is fragmented and ends shatteringly just as O’Toole launches into a learned remark on the Ghost. I could listen to these guys for ten hours straight. I think you’ll especially appreciate something Milton says around 18:18.

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