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Things Merely Are

This book is an invitation to read poetry. Simon Critchley argues that poetry enlarges life with a range of observation, power of expression and attention to language that eclipses any other medium. In a rich engagement with the poetry of Wallace Stevens, Critchley reveals that poetry also contains deep and important philosophical insight. Above all, he agues for a 'poetic epistemology' that enables us to think afresh the philosophical problem of the relation between mind and world, and ultimately to cast the problem away. Drawing astutely on Kant, the German and English Romantics and Heidegger, Critchley argues that through its descriptions of particular things and their stubborn plainness - whether water, guitars, trees, or cats - poetry evokes the 'mereness' of things. It is this experience, he shows, that provokes the mood of calm and releases the imaginative insight we need to press back against the pressure of reality. Critchley also argues that this calm defines the cinematic eye of Terrence Malick, whose work is discussed at the end of the book.
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Table of Contents

Advice to the reader 1. Or so we say - twenty propositions 2. Poetry, philosophy and life as it is 3. Sudden rightnesses 4. Wallace Stevens' intimidating thesis 5. The two-fold task of poetry 6. The thing itself and its seasons 7. Conclusion 8. Afterword : Calm - on Terrence Malick Bibliography Thanks

About the Author

New School University


'Testimony to a remarkable engagement between a philosopher and a poet ... it is written both with a beautiful, poised lucidity and calm, candid passion.' - "Steven Connor, Birkbeck College, London" 'What emerges is a refreshed appreciation of Steven's philosophical interest and so of how philosophy and literature can interact. The writing is characteristically engaging and stimulating, clear and succinct.' - "Sebastian Gardner, University College London" 'Critchley writes with brilliant wit, clarity, penetration, and a disarming modesty ... altogether it is a terrific book.' - "J. Hillis Miller, University of California, Irvine"

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