12.22.2009

Heart & Plumbline

Quoting my own comment to previous post, courtesy of JH Stotts timely visit... :

Learned recently (from curious & deep tome titled "Hamlet's Mill", by G. Santillana & M. von Dechend) that Egyptian hieroglyphic writing often conflated the symbol for "heart" with that for "plumbline." One of the myths held that when a person dies, Osiris weighs the heart in the scales with the "feather" (symbol) of truth... there we have a kind of double measurement : the plumb-weight or plummet (of the heart), set in the scales of justice...

Anyway... nice to think of this valuation of heart, balance, measurement, & plumbline...

"In measurement began our might" (WB Yeats)

- Happy Holidays, everyone... !

12.04.2009

The humble sublime

Last month the online zine Digital Emunction posted a mini-essay I wrote, titled "Neglected Phd. monographs & the American Sublime". You can find it here. Speaking of neglect, I've been neglecting to contribute to the Plumbline. But the nice thing about websites is the archive : it's not hard to find what we've all contributed here. I hope the Plumbline will keep growing.

Anyway, the "humble sublime" might be something of a plumbline concept. The idea goes back to those great 20th-cent. critics MH Abrams & Erich Auerbach; my mini-essay begins to examine how this dimension of style has manifested in some American poets. Basically, the "humble sublime" has to do with writing that accentuates a conjunction of opposites : the "high", awesome, ineffable divine or transcendent, with the most ordinary, humble, "low" realities of human experience. (In Russian, I believe they call it something like bytye & byt - beauty & the daily grind.) Bringing the two together in some kind of Midway fairground.