“Kantian Hurly-Burly” (William James)

Well, Kant’s way of describing the facts is mythological.  The notion of our thought being this sort of an elaborate internal machine-shop stands condemned by all we said in favor of its simplicity…Our Thought is not composed of parts, however so composed its objects may be.  There is no chaotic manifold in it to be reduced to order.  There is something almost shocking in the notion of so chaste a function carrying this Kantian hurly-burly in her womb…The Ego is simply nothing; as ineffectual and windy an abortion as Philosophy can show.  It would indeed be one of Reason’s tragedies if the good Kant, with all his honesty and strenuous pains, should have deemed this conception an important outbirth of his thought.  (Principles I, pp. 363-365.)

William can extend his metaphor–for good or ill.


Transcendentalism? (Poem)

(for Catlin Lowe, with a smile)

Browning starts his “Transcendentalism”
with the command:  “Stop playing, poet!”
and here he (not Browning) stands, with his stark-naked thoughts,
embarrassingly enjambed, undraped in sights or sounds,
and Browning speaks to him.

Shouldn’t he just speak prose?
Stop making meaninglessly metered thoughts?

 He would, if he could, yield to the breaking in
of the sudden rose—

live pliant fleshy
nose-fascinating blooming
fragrant slow-motion boom!

But he cannot do it, let the sudden rose break in
over him, under, round him on every side.

He can only speak dry words.
He should stop playing poet.

Prospect Park–Poem (David Schubert)

I would like to ask that dumb ox, Thomas
Aquinas, why it is, that when you have said
Something — you said it — then they ask you
A month later if it is true? Of course it is!
It is something about them I think. They think
It is something about me. It adds up
To my thinking I must be what I don’t
Know . . .

— The park is certainly
Tranquil tonight: lovers, like ants
Are scurrying into any old darkness,
Covert for kisses. It makes me feel
Old and lonely. I wish that I were
All of them, not with any one,
Would I exchange my lot, but the entire
Scene has a certain Breughel quality
I would participate in. —

Do I have to repeat
Myself. I really mean it.
I am not saying it again to convince myself
But to convince the repressed conviction
Of yourself. I think. I think. I think it.

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