By Robert Pack
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Additional info for Affirming limits: essays on mortality, choice, and poetic form
Thus, in fantasy, he relieves himself and his readers through story and illusion of the burden of their essential nothingness. Yet, unlike the dreamer and the madman, the artist must return his readers to the actuality of their mortal singularity and to their own lives. " In this return, the poem becomes an act of celebration of the mind's fecund power of identification with others, and, finally, a celebration of the finite and the limited self from which imaginative art may spring. " And Wallace Stevens asserts the same ideathat fictional belief must be contained by the rational mind which recognizes the need for human dreaming: "The final belief is to believe in a fiction, which you know to be a fiction, there being nothing else.
Some marriage of opposites has to be consummated. The wish for completenessto be both male and female, both parent and child, to be all possible selves throughout all time, and thus to be wholea wish that Freud also described Page 27 as "the wish to be father of oneself," is enacted by the artist in his projection of himself into others. Thus, in fantasy, he relieves himself and his readers through story and illusion of the burden of their essential nothingness. Yet, unlike the dreamer and the madman, the artist must return his readers to the actuality of their mortal singularity and to their own lives.
A serious artist can hope for nothing more than to be read with care for detail and nuance, as well as for the sweep of passion and psychological or philosophical meaning. This book is my partial attempt to give thanks to the master artists whose work is here examined by reading them with sustained attention. I take their works to be their best inheritance. What I have learned about the demanding craft of poetry over the years, I have learned mainly from them; and what I have taken to heart about cherishing the little life we are given to live, that, too, has been their gift.
Affirming limits: essays on mortality, choice, and poetic form by Robert Pack