Debrah Raschkc Literary Modernism, as much interpretative commentary continues to reveal, oscillates between a desire for an impossible certainty (all that Western philosophy promised in various renditions until the close of the nineteenth century) and a reciprocal terror that ultimately nothing can be known. The cryptic images associated with this uncertainty are familiar: an ambiguous line drawn down the center of a painting in Woolfs To the Lighthouse; Stephen Dedalus's enigmatic forging in Joyce's Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man; the culminating toothbrush hanging on the wall in EUot's "Rhapsody on a Windy Night." Intractable and persistent, interpretations of Modernism still pursue collapsing centers, elusive origins, and vanishing falcons. Epistemology (even if a failed epistemology), for obvious reasons, remains key. In this spirit of uncertainty, the Platonic, which depends on fixity attempts within Modernism to flee from the constraints of time and narrative so fervently critiqued by Georg Lukács and Fredric Jameson do at least ambivalently recall the Platonic vision (although not necessarily the commensurate reactionary, political implications). Socrates tells us in the Phaedo that the philosopher comes closest to truth when he is closest to death, when the material world is the furthest away: "The
The Comparatist – University of North Carolina Press
Published: Oct 3, 1997
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