9.1, On the Value of the Poetic and Literal

The logical, the mathematical, the economic (praxeology) are, and must be, technical, precise and clear. And there is much in promises (contracts) that is improved by a an employment of the precise and clear in meaning. But, it would be wrong to take this sphere of meaning as the everything. It is literally everything. But the literal is not everything.

The poetic is abused when it invades the technical and precise and clear. So, he who laments in compassion that all is not as he wishes, employs terms like corruption or exploitation or unfair, terms that should be driven out of talk of dimension, shape, weight, quantities, times, etc.

But, and this is a big but, the technical and precise and clear language of science (understanding) invades the poetic when it seeks to account for that which is properly out of its sphere with its limited vocabulary. So the invasion into the realm of much of the passionate and personal in life with the language of medicine, disease, illness, disorder and the turning to chemical bonds as cure or remediation of passionate states. So invasion into the realm of precise and clear property rights physically described in technical vocabulary with the hopes and dreams of removing poverty and paying fair share and talk about noncontractual duties to fellows.

The poetic makes a mistake when it invades the literal. The literal makes a mistake when it invades the poetic. The above sentences are themselves imprecise since they describe language as making. Language cannot make and more than society can make. Some number of individual actors make. So the more mystical one becomes the more poetic. So speaking of the god affirmatively is almost invariably poetic. So Pseudo-Dionysius, Aquinas, Pascal, Kierkegaard and many others recognize this. But so have they been resisted by those who see the earthly power of the literal and precise. Those who see the earthly power of the literal and precise require literal word-for-word dogmatic statement about what can only be described poetically for access to the community of those who pursuing what can only be poetically described.

What are the regions of the poetic? The region of talk about the source of all (theology). The region of talk about the source of this choosing (psychology). The region of talk about what is behind any phenomena encountered (cosmology). This is roughly what Kant called the noumenal realm. This puritanical libertarian thinks Kant did a great service in his effort to delimit the precise region of the literal and technically describable and to distinguish it from that which we ought wax poetic about.

By ruminating on the distinction in spheres, the linguistic dualism, I mean not to complete but to remind myself of what remains all to clear from here: that there is a part of life that is indubitably for aiming at precision and clarity. There is another part that is best suited for gesturing at by the use of the literal and precise in wild and uncharted ways to convey what is otherwise unconveyable and so to only approximate conveyance.

Published by Purilib

Anonymously interested in grasping the good life.

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