Friday, June 17, 2011

IT IS DARK IN THIS FOREST: VOLUME III

what is one to do when he or she enters
a forest of such
abject

darkness? bring a flashlight?

this forest---so dark it defies optic capacity--only gets darker the deeper one goes in.

deeper within this forest is where one can find mount magazine.
deeper within this forest is where one will forget every childhood experience
he or she
holds dear--deeper within this forest--is where
the only real version of your
(my) reality can be found

most cannot be bothered
with this--reality is too full
of mythic genius
of charismatic truism--wit--quirk to

possibly have more than mere
surface value.

i would like to take a moment
upon the proverbial soapbox, to declare
that i am not an interface that was created.

to sift.
through the deepest of your sediments.
for i will take your deepest
and raise you the rarest
of which can only be found in

trenches, incalculaby deep trenches one could not calculate the depth of, no mattey hard they try.



only phantoms know of these fathoms
and i never said i'm not a ghost.




(i admit to having fallen off the wagon of poetics. i will catch back up soon enough.)

(because for every field in this forest, there is a mole.
with the soil he stole.)

(and the sightlessness that lets him go free.)

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Notes on Living and Breathing Since 1987

the following will be an attempt to articulate the newly-made irrelevant structured tendencies of philosophical thought, specifically when viewed through the contextual lens of the past three decades. this will be in some ways reactionary to a frustration felt towards the convulsion of organized thought that characterizes post media explosion on a global scale. at this time, i am not necessarily seeking a solution--in some ways i seek to consciously evade that. read further fora vast and generalized list of fragmented notes to be expounded upon later.

-language has reached an end point in it's own development. no singular genre or sect of language remains effective (ie: nonfiction, fiction, poetic language, visual language, etc.) autonomously. the globalized sociological condition we all experience daily, in some way or another carries with it unquantifiable degrees of both inherent and constructed confusions. not just in terms of the bourgeois or first-world, but to anyone who exists among the pluralized. a more specific example of this is the convulsion experienced during the pursuit of becoming educated. not only in the realm of the institution, but also to those who choose self-education. it is almost as if everything that is written is written to be misread. (in my opinion, roland barthes is the most profoundly brilliant thinker of the past century, and at the same time most widely misread. come back to this point and make it more objective.) global expansion has instigated a trend of self-overgrowth that has extended beyond the limits of our own mortality.

i am speaking of something far more vast than the now cliche "human condition"--to me, the term "disease" seems more appropriate than "condition" to describe the experience at hand. this ideological disease embodies the appropriation of the word "disease" itself to this situation of which i am appropriating it towards, because it is self-created, much like some of the most anxiety-provoking of recent literal, physiological diseases. somewhere within the timeline of recent ideological pursuits of progress, an ugly binary has emerged. i'm not sure which would be more appropriate to describe this; i am torn between "cancer" and "schizophrenia". perhaps it is relevant to view these together.

points to be addressed:

-the ideology of difference within a hyper-capitalist environment

-modern psychiatry and it's various hidden agendas, outside of the american context

-eastern spirituality applied to the anxieties of terrorism

-maritime travel, western expansion, and wish-fulfillment fantasy




there's more...but not now. this is of course a work in progress. i'll come back to it soon.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

THE FIGURE IN THE FACE OF SOMETHING GREATER

(i wrote this the other night and couldn't figure our how to finish it, so i just closed it. maybe its finished, maybe it's not. thanks for auto-saving my weirdness, google.)



"The FIgure in the Face of Something Greater"



note: by classical definition, a philosopher should avoid autobiography. autobiography can only be articulated via an empirical voice that inherently negates the objective voice of the philosopher, and should therefore be avoided.

and now, the story of my life

everything that happens is happening in real time. i am here and you are not. we are wrong and they are stupid. we is us and us is whom. whom is the subject of the object who holds the object. sometimes, centuries after the death of an author, we are able present the truth.

it is fixed, but it was never broken. this is blue, but it was never green. i am you, and you are someone who i have never seen before, but casually made eye contact with on the subway in a city i only remember visiting in a previous life at a critical point of my second childhood.

our history is so versioned. the story follows the model and fits the era. our story is legit because we play reactionary to a poetically credible set of circumstances. everything that's ever been written is really just hiding a secret desire to be a bible story. we are not in bethleham, so we make up somewhere else. location, location, location. you always said you were north vietnam, and i always humored you, but in your sad eyes i could only see tobago, and london was calling you home. you look as fine as latin america when you wear that dress, but i still can't touch you because there's a mountain range that grew between us. between. i get that you had the right idea, in the same way russia always had the right idea, but you're still way to big for me to even begin comprehending that you exist.

function or phantom, no presence that can be felt through these walls. the ghost is here to neither haunt nor help you. we can never really acknowledge how untimely our death was, because we're stuck. you can only see the ectoplasm. the ghost will always come and go for his own reasons. even though he's dead he still has a future. he still loves his mother, even though they never talk. he exists in no taxonomical location. there is only purgatory, and even his own girlfriend really nothing but figment of some pluralized memory everyone has while watching "the breakfast club". he will live in your house until you make him leave. he will live in your memory even after you ask him to go.

if we take this essence to be example, we are no different when we oppress what is both within and outside of us. it's like we define each other. it's like even though i can't see you, i feel you, and i now you're right fucking there. it's like our truths cannot exist without the untruths that shame them. it is the difference from within one's self which makes it one.

we are all potential objects of forgiveness. the concern at hand is mutually misunderstood, and i see the way you see me when not too inhibited to do so. i get it, and i'm okay with it. i know that love is a proverb with two faces. one of essence and one of qualities. i love you because you are you. i love her or him because he or her is beautiful, intelligent, resourceful, hard working, forgetful, handsome, boring, impulsive, a lot of fun, and usually has no idea what he or she is doing when they are wherever they are at any given place or time.



i get it. you're a spirit. you talk to your holy other before you go to bed, and you wake up later. sometimes you're late for work and sometimes you're not. what comes after is not relevant. it is what it is and what it isn't, simultaneously. you already knew it because you could never learn. the terror made it home and is lying in your bed. it looks just like you and talks just like you. you share the same traumas and the same interests. it grew up just like you. is it you?

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Taylor Martin
03/24/09




“What is Hidden and What is Revealed: Victorian Anxiety and Victorian Context”



Much of the literature written in the Victorian Era seems to cling to secrecy as a reoccurring theme, though this secrecy is not often as explicit as it is with the case of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson. The novel stages secrecy as its central trope. The majority of the novel is concerned with one character’s attempt as uncovering the secret of another character. There is a surface interplay of duplicity between the public and private self that seems to make this novel, on a surface level, quintessentially Victorian. However, this novel about secrecy contains secrets of its own that are even more revealing of its Victorian context. Stevenson places a darkness that looms below the surface not only with Jekyll, but seems suggests this darkness at some point within each of his characters. This preoccupation with dark undercurrents suggests that we look for a similar darkness within the writer himself; or that analyze the text more carefully in search for hidden desires that shed light upon darker aspects of Victorian culture.
Much of what can be found in such a search seems to embody Victorian anxieties. The greatest of these anxieties, and the one that is outlined most clearly to us in the text, is the anxiety surrounding public self and reputation. Utterson, our narrator for most of this story, leaves no doubt in the Non-Victorian reader’s mind about the Victorian obsession with reputation. Stevenson characterizes Utterson as reputable and trustworthy figure in that he is concerned with reputation, but will also remain friends with one whose reputation has been tarnished. He is the Victorian ideal in that he stubbornly and consistently rational, and always keeps his public fa├žade in tact. He is a lawyer, therefore automatically respectable according to Victorian law. However, his willingness to remain faithful to those who have somehow uglied their reputations suggests that even he is at least intrigued by the darkness that is suggested to be in everyone through Jekyll and Hyde. There is a subtle corruption of the Victorian ideal that occurs here, which is seemingly subliminal to Stevenson.

Acknowledging this suggests to a Non-Victorian reader, that we should delve not just into the psychological dynamic that is the staged moral of the story, or the duality of the actually singular character that is Jekyll and Hyde, but into the psychology of the context in which this story was written, or into Victorianism itself.

The story of Jekyll and Hyde is a story that is centered around an outsider’s perspective of a mystery that seems to involve these two characters, who are actually one person. The moral of such a narrative seem to be that that there is a good and evil side to every person, and that the evil side should be repressed at all costs. Hyde acts out what is considered to be evil in a pure form. While we can’t say Jekyll embodies good in a pure form, he is certainly at all times outwardly composed, respectable, and has qualities of what is considered good. He is his normal self, and Hyde is his evil doppelganger.
There are idealized aspects of Jekyll’s character, however through the course of the story our idealized impression of him tends to sway. The most idealized notion of his character is his occupation, or that he is a man of science. He embodies the Victorian idealization of Rationalism in a form that can be attributed to progress. This comes in stark contrast with who he becomes as Hyde. He quite literally loses his title, in a transformation from the Doctor Jekyll to the mere Mister Hyde. In Stevenson’s description, he becomes a completely unintelligible, more primitive version of himself who shows no remorse in his moral disregard. Though characters largely come up short in their attempts to describe Mr. Hyde physically, seeming to arrive at some unexplainable psychological or metaphysical ugliness rather than actual characteristics that would be considered physically ugly, there is one word in particular that is troubling in Utterson’s description. He says that is like Hyde is somehow seemingly not human, and that there is “something troglodytic” about him. Before this point, we are only given words that give vague physical ideas, such a “pale” and “dwarfish”. Here, we are given the scientific root word “trogolodyte” in it’s adjective form, meaning that Mr. Hyde appears as a lesser-evolved form of a modern human. This one scientific term exposes our main underlying Victorian anxiety; the European anxiety towards the racial other. When this term is brought into the description, it seems to beg to refute the word “pale” used earlier in the description, and expose it merely as a rather untactful cover up for what is really scary about Mr. Hyde. The phrase seems to embody the underlying anxiety that has become apparent in the scientific practice of the 19th century, which sought justification and empowerment of white superiority, all of which was reactionary against an underlying fear of losing this superiority to those whose race was considered genetically, and therefore unquestionably inferior.


While the Victorian racial view may be the most troubling of the Victorian anxieties we are left with, in that it is seemingly the most encoded and difficult to bring to the surface, it is not the only one present. Going back to the Victorian idea of the social norm and the importance of reputation brings up more ideas for taboos that should be repressed. All of the major characters we meet in this story are male, and more importantly they are all bachelors. There is an importance placed on the idea of the “male bond” throughout, and from the very beginning there is a homosexuality present that is made eerie by its suppression. Utterson and his friend Mr. Richard Enfield become the most prominent example of this. Those who see this relationship from an outside perspective are left with questions to be answered. The two seem to have nothing in common, yet they meet at the same time every week, and place great value upon these meetings. People around them question what they could possibly see in each other as friends or get out of their relationship, since they seemingly have nothing in common, and much of the time they spend in public is in seeming displeasure and silence. The fact that these details are inserted into there relationship, and are somewhat displaced from the greater narrative, implies that the potential homo-social aspect of theirs and other potentially similar relationships should remain hidden. In fact, that seems to be the only greater point that can be extracted from this particular relationship.
The fact that this relationship might be taboo is not necessarily what is eerie about this and other male/male relations in the story. Moreover, it is that women are almost completely written out, in that there are no memorable female characters, other than the girl who is trampled by Hyde in the beginning of the story. What becomes offensive is just this, as it suggests that women have no place in this discussion revolving around the Victorian rationale. Women are never present, presumably confined to their homes, occupied by being ideal Victorian women. This one occurrence of a memorable female character suggests that this segment of the story be read as reactionary towards women’s place in Victorian society, in that it shows us what happens to a woman when she is out too late.


The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is one of the most popular stories to ever have been written in the English language. Along with this popularity comes a mystification and several preconceived notion concerning what the story is about that are brought along to an actual initial reading of the text. It is often taught that this story is simply a tale of the dual nature of selfhood. That there is an inherent good that cannot exist without an inherent evil within all humans, and that it is somehow our suty as humans to suppress our evil side. However, to read the story just as that would be to miss potentially greater, more reveling points. To psychoanalyze the story along with the context in which it was written allows for a more useful interpretations in a contemporary setting.
A story about a man who invents a potion that transforms him into a pure form of his evil self immediately sets up a contrast between the self, and the other that dwells within the self. However, that is not all it can be, since in this case our other takes a literal physical form, raising the question of whether or not we should analyze the character as one character or two. To read this just as a warning for what happens when the darker side of our psyche is not suppressed would be to miss out on several contextual details that are revealing to the Victorian rationale. Instead of taking this as just a warning about what dwells within the individual, we should take it for how residue of these Victorian notions can still be found in our culture today, and that we should avoid perpetuating these notions at all costs.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Bible Verses/Bad Timing

third essay for brit lit. the byronic hero in his prime. 



“The Byronic Subversion of Bad Faith”


No matter how completely at odds an idea may be with itself; the complete subversion of any that is zealously believed by a mass of people is not an easy task. Organizing clarity, and exposing the major flaws in anything like this is a problem that can only be resolved through an inventive use of language, and an definitively solid rationale. Lord George Gordon Byron’s drama, “Cain”, possesses these qualities and uses them to undermine the most domineering of all belief systems. His attack on Christianity casts Abraham’s family as it’s characters, appropriates biblical verse and the logic of faith, and uses them against themselves. Employing the guise of the very faith he undermines, Byron authors self-critique that leads to self-implosion. From the standpoint of ‘other’, he is able to upset the base misconceptions and contradictions that must be subscribed to for one to call their self “Christian”. The exclusionary nature of salvation is unmasked, and we see that the truth offered to us through mystified language is not really a truth available to all who seek it. This conclusion is brought on partly by the use of language, and partly by points Byron suggests. By adapting, and at times even quoting the word of the omnipotent God, Byron authors a new myth that is not based on fear or obligation, but instead promotes freethinking, and gives agency to those who doubt.

The voice of Byron himself comes out mostly through Cain. Lucifer is the informer, while Cain is the human with doubt in a group of the most religious believers. From the beginning, Cain questions the faith that his family practices with blind passion. Cain is always seen acting in different faith than the others, and is the voice of realization for the critique being delivered. Because of his difference, Cain is something of an outcast in his own family. There is an emotional and spiritual divide from the start, and Cain is misunderstood more often than he is not. As an agent of mankind he is alone, working under the guidance of the figure perceived as the face of all evil by those around him. Interactions between different characters work to exemplify how language becomes distorted through holy rhetoric; causing those who follow to confuse what is true and false, good and evil, empowering or imprisoning. Cain is the only character who acknowledges his doubts, making him already radically different than the rest of those banished from Eden. He is the only character who refuses to fall victim to his original sin. He instead falls victim to social isolation, and the burden of having to answer the questions religion simply glosses over.

Though he cannot relate to those around him, Cain does benefit in that he is not made a slave to the prescribed sense of morality and self-deception as the others. He is more capable of reasoning clearly, and is able to use what Lucifer tells him of reality to his advantage. From their dialogue is where many of the flaws and contradictions of Christianity can be realized, and is where more honest and reasonable alternatives are proposed. We hear Christianity defeating itself in the conversations between the most unlikely of biblical heroes; if it weren’t for Cain’s position as other, this shamelessly reasonable rejection of faith would not carry the same resonance.



This is not to say that all in Byron’s approach is without problems. One problems with Christianity stressed here is that the supposed truth and salvation offered to all who seek it, is in fact only available to some. Ignorance is like a privilege from which some are excluded the rights to. While Byron makes a point to tell us this, at the same time his critical position has exclusionary tendencies of it’s own. He makes clarity, freethinking, and unbiased knowledge into something that seems to be available to only to those who seek liberation from this specific form of ideological slavery.



While Byron’s solution may not include the specifics of everyone’s problem, it does work as an example, or a formula that can be applied to the deconstruction of religious logic.




I. Give and Take/Good and Evil

Much of Byron’s poetic discourse works though the duality of interplay between characters and their ideas. Cain’s ‘otherness’ is omnipresent, sometimes mirrored in interactions between characters, two ‘god’ figures, and sometimes between audience and author. Nonetheless, all of this revolves around one main atypical hero. As we revolve, there is a sort of sympathy and admiration from the reader that builds in regard to Cain. The Romantic language accentuates this, and we are meant to sympathize or empathize with Cain in his implied misunderstanding, isolation, and cause that seems lost to everyone but himself. He becomes a romantic figure, who we could call the quintessential “Byronic Hero”.

While this is endearing, the romantic aspect of the character conflicts with the usefulness and intention with his position of difference. It seems to perpetuate the recursive dialogue between Cain and the others. His revelations are often read and written off as mere changes in mood, or newly outspoken confusion that is just characteristic of the tragic hero. While the language of the play does often form the it’s success, this romance and melodrama tend to interfere at times.



No matter, the realizations made to us in dialogue are always framed by this romance, and usually occur in the form of oppositio---both in opposing viewpoints, and the moral opposition Cain experiences. For instance, when Adah encounters Cain and Lucifer at the end of the first act, she sees Lucifer at first as an angel, but then sees the opposite when he begins to the truth. She compares Lucifer to the lying serpent of Eden that caused their grief, and Lucifer turns this on it’s head He explains that this grief is knowledge in itself, and that God has betrayed man by consciously tricking Eve into desiring knowledge, but when this desire is acted upon casts out all humans from the garden in consequence. This is essential truth in Adah’s and her religions own words. Lucifer states that truth by its very essence must be good, and the grief caused by the outcast from Eden is not by essence not good. This dialogue shows us the inherent self-deception that must be practiced in accordance with Christianity. Truth, by logic, is completely cut out from the faith. Original sin is not good, therefore God cannot be all good like he claims.

The notions of knowledge and love are compared when Adah asks Cain to make a choice between them. Love is her, and the belief in God. Knowledge is opposite, or the belief that ‘sin’ cannot be original or inherited, but is instead contingent. Adah argues for love using her lover/sister relationship with Cain. When Lucifer asks if she loves Cain more than their mother and father, she says yes, and asks whether or not that is a sin. It is impossibly difficult for Adah to see her relationship with Cain as immoral or sinful, because it has always been presented to her in the guise of “love”. Lucifer says that their love is not a sin, or at least won’t call it that, but it will be in the children they have. Sin is debunked when Lucifer says that sin cannot be sin in itself, because immoral act is always determined by its circumstance. This thwarts the sense of the concept of being born into sin, which is the foundation of Christianity.

Adah reasons that if she is not born with sin than we are slaves to circumstance. Lucifer clarifies by saying that in choosing faith, they are made slaves through a preference for the “smooth agonies of adulation” over the “independency of torture”. Instead of thinking freely and embracing circumstance, an attempt to manage reality is made by worshiping a God that will somewhere down the line solve all problems. The price of this gain is giving up freedom, and living by an imposed moral code. They are not slaves out of love, as they argue, but because of the fear that God is always watching them.





II. Love of Romance/Desire of Defiance



There is a different ‘other’ relationship between God and Lucifer, with God never having to even make an appearance. Lucifer consistently makes an effort to distinguish himself from God by saying that he is not evil; it is instead the rhetoric, politics, and power of religion that are. He calls himself the ‘other God’, but disassociates from him on the grounds of ways he would exercise his power if it were his own. He doesn’t say it directly, but we know he would never consciously make the choice to tempt who he created into eating fruit from the Tree of Knowledge, all the while knowing that this would happen, because he is the all-knowing maker. The figure that has been throughout history characterized as pure evil, and in fact stands on higher ethical ground than God himself. He instates these values in Cain with his advice.



Cain is the prototypical tragic hero, and looks good being one. The romance surrounding his character might make us want to imitate him, but that wouldn’t be the best approach to solving the problem at hand. Byron gives us all of the necessary components we need for a tragic ending: Our hero, the advice he needs, the struggle, and what happens to those he struggles with. The breaking point is when Cain kills his brother. In this bible, this is done because Cain envies that Abel is the favorite of God and Abraham, but that is not the motive here. While the act doesn’t really even qualify as murder, but more as unintentional homicide, he is immediately branded with having performed the ultimate of all “Thou Shalt Nots”. The distance that has always been present between Cain and his family becomes a literal divide at this moment. His family disowns him, and the angel of God makes him into a real, social outcast for all eternity.. The appropriate consequence suggested before this decision is that he of course be killed. Cain wishes death upon himself, but is not granted this, and in a way the consequence he is given is worse. In exile, Cain will never be able to share the knowledge that is preached against. This works in God’s favor, and for whatever hidden agenda he’s getting atso we shouldn’t be surprised. If we were follow the noema of Byron’s example, the possibility of social change would be ruled out. Byron can only create more Byrons, and the outcast is not the ideal politician.





III. The Word of Man



The tactics by which “Cain” was written are radical, even to this day. Byron uses the exclusionary language against itself, so essentially one would have to deny the principles of their faith is based upon in order to disagree. Though a subjection to Christian belief is necessary to understand the message, to this specific reader, the message can only be ignored through completely blind faith. Byron exposes Christianity as the rejection of knowledge and truth, with its only real purpose being the relief of the follower from philosophical inquiry. The practice of this faith is in itself ‘bad faith’, in that believing requires one to overlook the contradictions on which the foundation is built. In his efforts, and in outcasting himself from the society of his time, Byron prefaces many radical thinkers to come. He prefaces Fredrich Nietzsche’s idea of ‘slave morality, that would upset the world of philosophy and pave the way for even more later thinkers. He also embodies a range of years in ethical theory in his conclusion that a system of morals cannot be based on a religion, as it must be relative. Byron’s ideas may not have been accepted at the time, but his impact can be seen in it’s effects the philosophical infrastructure of the world we live in.

If we don’t like the myth we’ve been given, “Cain” works as a new one. Nothing has really been changed here. The language of the bible has been consciously preserved, and all of the characters play their original roles, only they have been adapted and arranged in a new way. If we accept that religion, or myth in general is spread by mystified language and coded meaning, we can still build a new religion based upon the same words. We still get the same moral rhetoric, imposed guilt, promotion of ignorance, and objectification of women; the same fallen angel, and the same solitary God figure that refuses to deal with humans directly because we’ve done, or really what he’s made us do. What’s different this time is that there is a much different perspective at work. Instead of Abraham as the one to save all mankind, it is Cain. However, it never seemed to be God’s intention to save humanity, therefore Cain is banished to where he can save no one.

What still needs to be learned can be suggested, but not found here, The proposed goal cannot be fully resolved using this method of ‘other’ language. If exclusionary language is to be the vehicle, what is to be made of this by those who are not well versed in it? The power of this text is its potential for liberation, but this is only available to some readers. We are in a time and place where Byron can be understood, but what he says it is not yet common knowledge, and still has audiences to reach. While brilliantly solid in approach, as long as we desire the liberation of all people from physical and ideological slavery, the approach must be further revised.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

This Land is Your Land?

second essay for british literature. looks at the use of landscape as a medium rather than a genre, in the british imperial context. down with wordsworth! enthusiasm! this still needs some work...




Taylor Martin
02.12.09
Essay #1


“There’s a Landscape Between Us”


                             What is a medium? Is it a material thing, or just an idea? In the context of art, we think of the word as signifying what the artist uses in process, or the physical means by which a picture is made. It can take many forms, but it is always whatever comes between the artist’s hand and the product; What is intermediary between the image and it’s maker. However, the word means much more than what its artist connotation implies. With text, is it the actual process of writing, or is it the language itself that is medium? The latter makes more sense. If we allow something as broad as language to be a medium, then a greater spectrum of meaning should be considered.
                              Distinguishing what is medium becomes complicated when looking at the ideological realm. Really, anything that comes between one thing and another can be ‘medium’. Anything that is used as some sort of ‘means’, to progress towards some sort of ‘end’ is fair game for such classification. Anything that is essentially used at all earns the name.
In physical terms, medium is easy to point out. In philosophical terms, however, you can call a greater number of things by this name. To unpack this suggestion, we will be looking at one of history’s favorite romantic poets, William Wordsworth, and discussing his tactics of exploitation, and how the landscape is used as a means to his end.

“I came among these hills; when like a roe I bounded o’er the mountains, by the sides of the deep rivers, and the lonely streams, wherever nature led; more like a man flying from something he dreads, than one who sought the thing he loved.”

                                 William Wordsworth was alive between 1770 and 1850, what we could see as a turning point between the two highest times of the British Empire. He lived out his youth during the latter half of the Second Empire, and grew into the beginning of what became a century of totalitarian imperial rule. Looking at Wordsworth’s favorite subject, the landscape, tends to raise questions when his context is taken into consideration. To Wordsworth’s empire, land was something that was completely up for the taking. The displacement of who occupied the land first was irrelevant; instead the colonial view of progress took greater precedence.
The choice to muse on the ‘beauty’ of the land at such a time is curious. We could initially read this as unproblematic, possibly as a rejection of the way political affairs were handled by the imperialists. However, if we examine the language closely, it does not seem as though a ‘return to nature’ really means a return to a simpler time before imperial rule. Wordsworth seeks nature not as a form of liberation, but merely as an escape. He briefly escapes, and then returns. Shrouded somewhere in this language of escape, we can gather a desire for conservation. Considering that we know Wordsworth spent the majority of his own time in the city, and yet his work speaks of the rural land, furthers this notion. He does not seek liberation from those in power, as he is always quick to return home. After his return, he spends his time dwelling on mere memories of this untamed place.
                              As a young adult, Wordsworth came to inherit a large estate. He went from being excluded from the ranks of the ruling class, to becoming a part of it. His choice to escape the city can only be escape, as he is quick to return to his privileges, and revel in what he experienced while away. The landscape he paints for us is fabricated by memory, and sentimentalized to an extreme. He briefly larks about in the natural with gaiety, almost as if he wishes he could just take it home. His wealth allows him to come and go as he pleases, without any consideration of the social realm of what is outside his element. He never mentions the presence of any other humans in his paradise. He sees the land as public domain for his private fantasy. There is no regard for who might be there, or the history the land retains. The landscape is borrowed, and used as a way to get closer to a happier, more virtuous image of Wordsworth.
                                  While not actually in the landscape, Wordsworth uses what he remembers to fuel his poetic disposition of privilege. This in a way resembles colonial thinking, in that he can dream of the land he conquers while on vacation from the comfort of home. In his mind, he dictates the land while he is away from it. There are great parallels between his exploitation of the land for the sake of poetics, and the benefits reaped by the empire while away from the colony. He is intrigued by the natural wilderness, but through his portrayal of it the environment it is again re-tamed. This reflects the imperial desire to tame surrounding areas, those not yet under control of the empire.
                                 Wordsworth’s memory and description of the landscape work to package it in such a way so that his ideal version can be later sold to the reader of his own, and of future generations. However, we know that a packaged landscape is in no way the same as the actual landscape. We can see this in the simple fact that we know the memory of an event is not the actual event, but is instead a medium somewhere between reality and perception. This essential aspect in his writing process exposes a major flaw that is furthered by the fact that Wordsworth’s retellings of the landscape do not seem to even take the reality of the time and place into consideration. There is no mention of any culture, history, people, or evidence of people who might inhabit the land. We only hear of the beauty of the fields, and how this beauty makes Wordsworth feel. His wish is not to present the idea of a real place to us; he instead creates an image that appeals to himself, and the logic of his country.
                                     In his traipsing about the countryside, and the later accounts of it he makes from home, Wordsworth does not only embody and project the colonial mind, but asserts his self-realized intellectual dominance in doing so. He does not only borrow the land, but personifies it by giving it human characteristics. He frequently refers to the land as ‘she’, assigning gender to whom he exploits. While in much of his language, he seems to attempt at granting power to the female landscape by commending the untamed power of the land, there is something that seems to linger below the surface here.

“By reason and truth; what we have loved others will love; and we may teach them how, instruct them how the mind of man becomes a thousand times more beautiful than the earth on which he dwells”

                                       These lines are found at the end of the last book of the prelude. While the prelude was written early in his poetic career, before his more apparent adoption of British nationalism, lines like these read as warning of what is to come. What is he trying to tell us? Considering the language that has been used to speak of the earth throughout, we can assume this is an affirmation of his philosophical stance in regard to his ‘others’, with whom he rarely even comes in contact with. He often romanticizes the hermit, and seems largely unconcerned with the social reality around him. Still, he declares the female land as ‘other’, and places himself above it in social hierarchy. Additionally, we often hear him slip and refer to ‘things’ as having qualities of humans. Around this time, Immanuel Kant outlined in his version of ethical theory saying that morality can only be exercised by to those with the ability to rationalize. Those who lacked this elitist notion of mental ability were not humans, but were tagged as mere ‘things’. This is a parallel that is hard to ignore. Following this typical 18th century rationale, Wordsworth decides his self-determined ability to reason ‘better’ makes him a greater human than the personification of the landscape itself, as well as those who inhabit the landscape he uses. He declares himself as superior to what he has appropriated, sentimentalized, and assigned gender; what is the very means he uses to escape his reality.



When is it that something traditionally classified within a genre, can in fact be more appropriately given the name of medium? When we can identify what it is that comes between author and product, or something that mediates an outcome; when something is used as a way to obtain something greater. The idea of landscape, in the context of Wordsworth and other British Romantics, becomes ‘medium’ because exploitation of the land is hard to deny. Wordsworth’s use of the landscape mirrors the Empire’s mentality towards the acquisition of land, and is used as the medium to realize his poetic voice. Acquisition of land equates to the acquisition of power. This comes at the cost of the land, and the ‘others’ implied through the language used to describe it. Wordsworth’s sentimentality for the landscape can be equated to the painted landscapes of the time, since they both frame a greater social problem within an idealized image, that does not get at any sense of social reality. It would be a stretch to even call what we are reading about a real place, if we go only by the author’s description. Instead, we see a desperate man’s simulacrum; an escapist notion of reality taken through a siphon of memory and post-editing. The language comes from the position of self, with no real sense of an attempt to become external. We are left to decode Wordsworth’s ciphers, and raise our eyebrows at what we might find. The romantic language of landscape functions as the intermediary between actual social reality, and the author’s clouded perceptions and retellings.