I posit no boundary between us...


The line in the title poem of Posit (I posit/no boundary/between us) is one I'd like to parse, in reference to what Neo-Romanticism is meant to be in the humanities world in 2017. If looked at objectively, an argument could be made that Modern art, post-modern art, and Deconstructionist literary theory are all largely constituted by a succession of boundaries, and a succession of boundaries effect. In other words, the works of art, and the texts, are a game and a gambit against both intimacy, and the possibility of intimacy, between reader/viewer and creator. Deconstructionism configures intimacy as naive, as both an intention and a possibility, largely through the perceived obtrusion of the arbitrary into language and linguistic significations. Modernity and post-modernity lean heavily on alienation tactics and irony motifs. To torque Wilde, the importance of being earnest is lost. Yet Deconstructionism must withstand its own contradictions; as Roland Barthes enumerates how we might be seduced by texts, it must be understood that what is seductive in textuality is, in itself, the possibility of writer/reader intimacy; and that intimacy can only be a viable possibility if what is arbitrary in language is balanced and offset by what in language and linguistic symbolization is purposeful (as Wordsworth would have it), and penetrant into the psyche of those who read and experience the text. 

Neo-Romanticism is, in fact, predicated on a belief in the efficacy of aesthetic symbolization, and (specifically), the positing of no boundary between creator and viewer/reader. Neo-Romanticism, on a primordial level (manifest, perhaps, from a ricochet to Philadelphia's buildings), believes in itself, and believes in its audience. Why the Dusie chap Posit, which ten years ago was ricocheting across the country for the first time, was more a statement of intention than I at first perhaps perceived, is because I failed to grasp the underpinnings of the work itself (and of The Posit Trilogy which came later) in regards to the primordial compact I unconsciously projected onto it, as I created it; a self-regulated, self-sustaining world of good faith, good intentions, and genial good will towards whoever might choose to read the text. The Neo-Romanticism which arose from Aughts Philadelphia does, in fact, attempt to take the first person singular and make it genial again. There cannot be a "you," a second person singular, without an "I"; and the significance of poetry's primordial perspective, an "I" addressing a "you," is that it becomes a Heideggerian sheltering device against what might corrupt it from without. The succession of boundaries effect embedded in Modern and post-modern art, the creation of more and more vast distances between reader/viewer and creator, is not an effect Neo-Romanticism finds interesting. Formality is another issue, and off the table here; but, suffice it to say, formality creates the inherent genial good will of a rich relationship to history and histories, continuity of consciousness over long stretches of time. 

When formality is shifted into place as a prominent element of a literary text, as in The Witches of South Philadelphia, the genial good will of the artist is to, among other things, fulfill an imperative function that both Deconstruction and post-modernity largely lost: to entertain, edify, and enlighten the reader on the highest possible cognitive level. Readers read the poem because they enjoy it. This seems simple; it is not, in practice. Literature in the American Academy is so painfully onerous, as a Babel-level enterprise or (often) anti-enterprise, that literary types stick to books as a mode of self-abnegation and self-abasement. As a graduate student, I worked under a professor once, and I endeavored to bring this complex to the surface. We stick to these texts, I said, because we enjoy them; we study literature because we like it; correct? You'd be amazed that he was nonplussed enough that producing an answer seemed, to him, inadvisable and impossible. I never forgot the sense I had that here, folks, was an impostor; someone doing something for the wrong reason, whatever that reason might have been. Posit, The Posit Trilogy, Witches, and the rest are all aiming to cut out the proverbial middle man, academic or not.