File spoon-archives/phillitcrit.archive/phillitcrit_1998/phillitcrit.9806, message 13

Date: Thu, 4 Jun 1998 13:24:33 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Re: PLC: Imagery

> >George Trail wrote:
> >>
> >> the sun, post Socrates, is standard for the "one" truth, the "one"
> >> absolute, or as Socrates calls it, simply, the "one."
> High Noon is the Gary Cooper Grace Kelly Katy
> Girardo  job. The moment of decision, my life or His'n, nearing high noon.
> Are yous sure the the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral took place at noon? Noon
> is, however,  the time for a duel. The sun cannot be at anyone's back.  

He added that the anti-absolutist Whitman found a single sun

> ..."(there are millions of suns left,)" ... "The bright suns I see and
> he dark suns I cannot see are in their place." 

Valery brings sun as metaphysical absolute and as politico-legal
Leviathan together in _Le Cimetiere Marin_:

"Midi le juste y compose de feux / La mer, la mer, toujours recommencee...
Je te soutiens, admirable justice / De la lumiere aux armes sans pitie."

(Noontime the just compounds with fires / The sea, the sea, perpetually
renewed... / I can withstand you, admirable justice / Of light itself,
with your pitiless blades.) 

And Stevens speaks of the poet's "Motive for Metaphor" (in the poem of
that name) as "shrinking from / The weight of primary noon / The A B C of
being... / The vital, arrogant, fatal, dominant X."

Stevens (like Whitman who spoke of "the feeling of health, the full-noon
trill" in a line George quoted) is ambivalent about the sun, in this poem
and elsewhere. In his "Credences of Summer" he tells poets to:

"Trace the gold sun about the whitened sky / Without evasion by a single
metaphor. / Look at it, in its essential barrenness / And say this, this
is the centre that I seek."

Derrida's essay "White Mythology" is very interesting on sun-imagery (Sun
as Reality, the antithesis of metaphor -- and as metaphor-in-chief), and
could almost be read as a commentary on the play of Whitman, Stevens and
other Romantic and Romantic-influenced poets with their ambivalence about
the sun. They all want to celebrate it as the source of light, but also
want to say "Hey, there are *other* sources of light -- look at me, Ma!" 

-- Tom Grey       Stanford CA

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