Discussion:
Casting Down Imagination
(too old to reply)
Dennis
2020-12-05 20:35:11 UTC
Permalink
Epigraph to Jonson's _Sejanus:_

Non hic Centauros, non Gorgonas, Harpyiasque
Invenies: Hominem pagina nostra sapit. Mart.

The English translation of the poem Mart 10.4

You, who read of Oedipus and Thyestes neath a darkened sun, of Colchian witches and Scyllas - of what do you read but monsters? What will the rape of Hylas avail you, what Parthenopaeus and Attis, what the sleeper Endymion? or the boy stripped of his gliding wings? or Hermaphroditus who hates the amorous waters? Why does the vain twaddle of a wretched sheet attract you? read this of which Life can say" :Tis my own". Not here will you find centaurs, nor gorgons and harpies: tis of man my page smacks. But you do not wish, Mamurra, to recognize your own manners, or to know yourself. Origins of Callimachus (trans. Walter C.A. Ker, the Loeb Classical Library)

************************************************
Jonson, _Timber_

See where he complains of their painting CHIMAERAS (by the vulgar unaptly called grotesque) saying that men who were born truly to study and emulate Nature did nothing but MAKE MONSTERS AGAINST NATURE, which Horace so laughed at.

************************
Bartholomew Fair, Jonson, From the Induction to the Stage


...If there be ne- ver a Servant-monster i' the Fair, who can help it, he says, nor a Nest of Antiques? He is loth to make Nature afraid in his Plays, like those that beget Tales, Tempests, and such like Drolleries, to MIX HIS HEAD with other MENS HEELS; let the concupiscence of Jigs and Dances, reign as strong as it will amongst you: yet if the Puppets will please any body, they shall be entreated to come in.

********************************
Notes to Horace, Art of Poetry:

The word PRODIGIALITER apparently refers to that fictitious monster, under which the poet allusively shadows out the idea of absurd and inconsistent composition. The application, however, differs in this, that, whereas the monster, there painted, was intended to expose the extravagance of putting together incongruous parts, without any reference to a whole, this prodigy is designed to characterize a whole, but deformed by the ill-judged position of its parts. The former is like a monster, whose several members as of right belonging to different animals, could by no disposition be made to constitute one consistent animal. The other, like a landscape which hath no objects absolutely irrelative, or irreducible to a whole, but which a wrong position of the parts only renders prodigious. Send the boar to the woods, and the dolphin to the waves; and the painter might show them both on the same canvas.
Each is a violation of the law of unity, and a real monster: the one, because it contains an assemblage of natural incoherent parts; the other, because its parts, though in themselves coherent, are misplaced and disjointed. (see Droeshout Deformity)

*************************************************************
prodigialiter
ADV
amazingly| wonderfully

prodigialiter
unnaturally, extravagantly

************************

extravagari - wandering beyond bounds
************************************************

Jonson, _The Alchemist_

TO THE READER.

If thou beest more, thou art an understander, and then I trust
thee. If thou art one that takest up, and but a pretender,
beware of what hands thou receivest thy commodity; for thou wert
never more fair in the way to be cozened, than in THIS AGE, in
poetry, especially in plays: wherein, *now the CONCUPISCENCE of
DANCES and of antics so reigneth, as to run away from nature,
and be afraid of her, is the only point of art that tickles the
spectators*. But how out of purpose, and place, do I name art?
When the professors are grown so obstinate contemners of it, and
presumers on their own naturals, as they are deriders of all
diligence that way, and, by simple mocking at the terms, when
they understand not the things, think to get off wittily with
their IGNORANCE. Nay, they are esteemed the more learned, and
sufficient for this, by the many, through their excellent vice
of judgment. For they commend writers, as they do fencers or
wrestlers; who if they come in robustuously, and put for it with
a great deal of violence, are received for the braver fellows:
when many times their own rudeness is the cause of their
disgrace, and a little touch of their adversary gives all that
boisterous force the foil. I deny not, but that these men, who
always seek to do more than enough, may some time happen on some
thing that is good, and great; but very seldom; and when it
comes it doth not recompense the rest of their ill. It sticks
out, perhaps, and is more eminent, because all is sordid and
VILE about it: as lights are more discerned in a thick darkness,
than a faint shadow. I speak not this, out of a hope to do good
to any man against his will; for I know, if it were put to the
question of theirs and mine, the worse would find more
suffrages: because the most favour common errors. But I give
thee this warning, that there is a great difference between
those, that, to gain the opinion of copy, utter all they can,
however unfitly; and those that use election and a mean. For it
is only the disease of the unskilful, to think rude things
greater than polished; or scattered more numerous than composed.

***************************
HOBBES'S LEVIATHAN: MONSTERS, METAPHORS, AND MAGIC
BY ROBERT E. STILLMAN

Hobbes's sense of his place in cultural history is key to understanding the character and the contradictions of Leviathan. Early and late in his long writing career, he represents his philosophical life as a battle against monstrous texts. De cive's "Preface to the Reader" narrates a Hobbesian myth of the fall, in which a golden age of power and authority enjoyed by sovereigns is destroyed by the "disputations" of private men. 1 To illustrate his point, Hobbes cites the classical fable of Ixion's adulterous courtship of Juno: "Offering to embrace her, he clasped a cloud; from whence the Centaurs proceeded, by nature half men, half horses, a fierce, a fighting, and unquiet generation" (2:xiii). His allegorization of the fable is Baconian both in its method -- its derivation of philosophical truths from mythology -- and in its attribution of the origins of political sedition to seditious language and seditious desires: "private men being called to councils of state, desired to prostitute justice, the only sister and wife of the supreme, to their own judgments and apprehensions; but embracing a false and empty shadow instead of it, they have begotten those hermaphrodite opinions of moral philosophers, partly right and comely, partly brutal and wild"
(snip)
Hobbes is fond of metaphors of the monstrous, and his employment of them, especially in crucial accounts of his own vocational ambitions, is recurrent and revealing. His claim to having spent a career battling the metaphorical monsters of false systems of knowledge complements his lifelong attacks, I will argue, against the monsters of metaphor. Viewed from a broad historical perspective, Hobbes's attack stands as one characteristic, albeit especially fierce, expression of hostility to metaphor on the part of the seventeenth century's new philosophers. Monsters, as marvels of nature, have their verbal counterparts in metaphors, the marvels of speech. As Paul de Man argues, within metaphors, as inside the most violent catachreses, "something monstrous lurks." 4 (The very word catachresis means an "abuse" of language.) Metaphors can appear dangerous, even monstrous, because "they are capable of inventing the most fantastic entities by dint of the positional power inherent in language. They can dismember the texture of reality and reassemble it in the most capricious of ways, pairing man with woman or human being with beast in the most unnatural shapes." 5 As a consequence, de Man argues, metaphor has been "a perennial problem and, at times, a recognized source of embarrassment for philosophical discourse." 6 That embarrassment becomes especially acute during the seventeenth century because of metaphor's association with subjective imagination, passion, and the monstrous, with all that contrasts with objective judgment, reason, and the natural. As a result, the opposition between the literal and the figural underlies many of the crucial polarities of the century's discourse: the divide between truth and falsehood, natural philosophy and poetry, philosophical discourse and rhetoric, to name only a few. 7 Especially in the civil war years, a hostility to metaphor becomes acute, too, because as a monstrous rebel to linguistic law, metaphor is associated with the monstrous rebels of mob rule. To attack metaphor is to attack the monstrous mother of all seditious philosophies, and a monstrous breeder of sedition itself.

****************************************************************************
To conclude, the light of human minds is perspicuous words, but by exact definitions first snuffed, and purged from ambiguity; reason is the pace; increase of science, the way; and the benefit of mankind, the end. And on the contrary, metaphors, and senseless and ambiguous words, are like ignes fatui; and reasoning upon them is wandering amongst innumerable absurdities; and their end, contention and sedition, or contempt. (Hobbes, Leviathan)

*************************************
Southern, Pandora (1584)

To the right honourable the Earl of Oxenford etc.
(snip)
Epode
No, no, the high singer is he
Alone that in the end must be
Made proud with a garland like this,
And not every riming novice
That writes with small wit and much pain,
And the (God’s know) idiot in vain,
For it’s not the way to Parnasse,
Nor it will neither come to pass
If it be not in some wise fiction
And of an ingenious INVENTION,
And INFANTED with PLEASANT TRAVAIL,
For it alone must win the laurel,
And only the poet WELL BORN
Must be he that goes to Parnassus,
And not these companies of asses
That have brought verse almost to scorn.

***************************


Amorphus/altezza d’ingegno


Jonson, _Cynthia's Revels_.

AMORPHUS. And there's her minion, Crites: why his advice more than
Amorphus? Have I not invention afore him? Learning to better
that INVENTION above him? and INFANTED with PLEASANT TRAVEL –



******************************
Sublime Courtship:

Dedication in Latin to Bartholomew Clerke's Translation of The Courtier(1571/1572). Edward de Vere
[translated by B. M. Ward]

For what more difficult, more noble, or more magnificent task has anyone ever undertaken than our author Castiglione, who has drawn for us the figure and model of a courtier, a work to which nothing can be added, in which there is no redundant word, a portrait which we shall recognize as that of a highest and most perfect type of man. And so, although nature herself has made nothing perfect in every detail, yet the MANNERS of men exceed in dignity that with which nature has endowed them; and he who surpasses others has here surpassed himself and has even OUT-DONE nature [i.e., naturam superauit], which by no one has ever been surpassed. Nay more: however elaborate the ceremonial, whatever the magnificence of the court, the splendor of the courtiers, and the multitude of spectators, he has been able to lay down principles for the guidance of the very Monarch himself.

****************************

Greene's Groatsworth
There is an upstart Crow, beautiful in our feathers, that, with his tiger's heart wrapt in a player's hide, supposes he is as well able to bombast out a blank verse as the best of you, and, being an absolute Johannes Factotum, is, in his own conceit, the only Shakescene in the country. Oh, that I might entreat your rare wits to be employed in more profitable courses, and let these apes imitate your past excellence, and never more acquaint them with your admired inventions."

****************************

Cynthia's Revels:

Act V. Scene I.

Mercury, Crites.

I
T is resolv'd on, Crites, you must do it.
Cri. The Grace divinest Mercury hath done me,
In this vouchsafed discovery of himself,
Binds my observance in the utmost terme
Of satisfaction, to his godly Will:
Though I profess (without the affectation
Of an enforc'd, and form'd austerity)
I could be willing to enjoy no place
With so unequal Natures. Mer. We believe it.
But for our sake, and to inflict just pains
On their prodigious Follies, aid us now:
No man is, presently, made bad, with ill.
And good men, like the Sea, should still maintain
Their noble taste, in midst of all fresh humours,
That flow about them, to corrupt their Streams,
Bearing no season, much less salt of goodness.
It is our purpose, Crites, to correct,
And punish, with our laughter, this nights sport.
Which our Court-Dors so heartily intend:
And by that worthy scorn, to make them know
How far beneath the dignity of Man
Their serious, and most practis'd Actions are.
Cri. I, but though Mercury can warrant out
His Undertakings, and make all things good,
Out of the Powers of his Divinity,
Th' offence will be return'd with weight on me,
That am a Creature so despis'd, and poor;
When the whole Court shall take it self abus'd
By our Ironical Confederacy.
Mer. You are deceiv'd. The better Race in Court
Will apprehend it, as a grateful right
Done to their separate merit: and approve
The fit rebuke of so ridiculous Heads,
Who with their apish Customs, and forc'd Garbs,
Would bring the name of Courtier in contempt,
Did it not live unblemisht in some few,
Whom equal Jove hath lov'd, and Phœbus form'd
Of better Metal, and in better mould.



**************************


The Theory of the Sublime from Longinus to Kant
By Robert Doran

Sublimity as cultural theory

My effort to uncover some structural and thematic unity in the theory and discourse of sublimity challenges the notion that the sublime requires an appeal to an extrinsic theory (such as psychoanalysis) as an organizing principle. I see the theory of the sublime as possessing a critical function of its own, namely as an implicit theory of culture, a notion that goes back to Longinus’s treatise, which extends beyond questions of verbal expression to the elucidation of a specific moral and cultural outlook. This is particularly in evidence in the final chapter of the treatise, which links the dearth of literary greatness to cultural decline and decadence. This fusion of aesthetic reflection and cultural critique will become an important feature of the modern theory of sublimity.
As the index of an affective state of high-mindedness – elevation/nobility of soul – the transcendence-structure of the sublime becomes an important factor in shaping attitudes toward the great social revolution of modernity: the decline of the feudal nobility and the emergence of a middle class, the shift from a culture based on an aristocratic-warrior ethos to one reflecting bourgeois-mercantile values. By connecting aesthetic intensity and elevation to the idea of nobility of mind, by replacing properly religious experience with an analogous, aesthetically inflected structure, the sublime represents one of the pivot points on which the transition from a traditional or hierarchical to a democratizing society is thought. In effect, what thinkers such as Boileau, Burke, and Kant achieve through the sublime is a bourgeois appropriation of aristocratic subjectivity (the heroic cast of mind). *The extent to which the sublime is used to exalt the bourgeois individual through the aesthetic is perhaps the least understood aspect of the discourse of sublimity.*

****************************
Jonson, Cynthia's Revels - Moral (bourgeois?) Sublime


Cupid. His name, Hermes?
Mercury. Crites. A Creature of a most perfect and divine
Temper: One, in whom the Humours and Elements
are peaceably met, without emulation of Prcedency;
he is neither too phantastickly Melancholy, too slowly
Phlegmatick, too lightly Sanguine, or too rashly Cho-
lerick, but in all, so compos'd and order'd, as it is clear,
Nature went about some full work, she did more than
make a Man when she made him. His Discourse is like
his Behaviour, uncommon, but not unpleasing; he is
prodigal of neither. He strives rather to be that which
Men call Judicious, than to be thought so; and is so
truly Learned, that he affects not to shew it. He will
think, and speak his thought both freely; but as distant
from depraving another Mans Merit, as proclaiming his
own. For his Valour, 'tis such, that he dares as little
to offer an Injury as receive one. In sum, he hath a most
ingenuous and sweet Spirit, a sharp and season'd Wit,
a straight Judgment, and a strong Mind. Fortune could
never break him, nor make him less. He counts it his
Pleasure to despise Pleasures, and is more delighted with
good Deeds than Goods. It is a competency to him that
he can be Vertuous. He doth neither covet nor fear;
he hath too much reason to do either; and that com-
mends all things to him.


********************************
As the index of an affective state of high-mindedness – elevation/nobility of soul – the transcendence-structure of the sublime becomes an important factor in shaping attitudes toward the great social revolution of modernity: the decline of the feudal nobility and the emergence of a middle class, the shift from a culture based on an aristocratic-warrior ethos to one reflecting bourgeois-mercantile values. (Doran, The Theory of the Sublime from Longinus to Kant)

********************************
'Swan Song' of the Feudal Nobility:

THRENOS.
Beauty, truth, and rarity.
Grace in all simplicity,
Here enclos'd in cinders lie.
Death is now the phoenix' nest;
And the turtle's loyal breast
To eternity doth rest,
Leaving no posterity:--
'Twas not their infirmity,
It was married chastity.
Truth may seem, but cannot be:
Beauty brag, but 'tis not she;
Truth and beauty buried be.
To this urn let those repair
That are either true or fair;
For these dead birds sigh a prayer.

*******************************



Oxfordian Sublime:

A SPEECH SPOKEN AT THE TRYUMPH 
BEFORE THE QUEEN’S MOST EXCELLENT MAJESTIE, 
BY THE PAGE TO THE RIGHT NOBLE CHAMPION, 
THE EARL OF OXENFORD: January 22, 1581.
BY THE TILT stood a statelie Tent of Orange tawny Taffeta, curiously embroidered with Silver, & pendants on the Pinnacles very sightly to behold. From forth this Tent came the noble Earl of Oxenford in rich gilt Armour, and sat down under a great high Baytree, the whole stock, branches and leaves whereof were all gilded over, that nothing but Gold could be discerned. By the Tree stood twelve tilting staves, all which likewise were gilded clean over. After a solemn sound of most sweet Music, he mounted on his Courser, very richly caparisoned, when his page ascending the stairs where her Highness stood in the window, delivered to her by speech this Oration following:
(snip)
…Thus wandering a weary way, he espied at the last a Tree so beautiful, that his eyes were dazzled with the brightness, which as he was going unto, he met by good fortune a Pilgrim or Hermit, he knew not well, who being apparelled as though he were to travel into all Countries, but so aged as though he were to live continually in a Cave. Of this old Sire he demanded what Tree it was, who taking this Knight by the hand, began in these words both to utter the name and nature of the Tree.
This Tree fair Knight is called the Tree of the Sun, whose nature is always to stand alone, not suffering a companion, being itself without comparison: of which kind, there are no more in the earth than Suns in the Element. The world can hold but one Phoenix, one Alexander, one Sun-Tree, in top contrary to all Trees: it is strongest, & so stately to behold, that the more other shrubs shrink for duty, the higher it exalteth it self in Majesty.
For as the clear beams of the Sun cause all the stars to lose their light, so the brightness of this golden Tree, eclipseth the commendation of all other Plants. The leaves of pure Gold, the bark no worse, the buds pearls, the body Chrisocolla, the Sap Nectar, the root so noble as it springeth from two Turkeies (Turquoises), both so perfect, as neither can stain the other, each contending once for superiority, and now both constrained to be equals. *Vesta’s bird* sitteth in the midst, whereat Cupid is ever drawing, but dares not shoot, being amazed at the princely and perfect Majesty. [note - see 'Love's Martyr - 'Vesta's Bird' as Turtle-Dove?]
(snip)
At the last, resting under the shadow, he felt such content, as nothing could be more comfortable. The days he spent in virtuous delights, the night slipped away in golden Dreams; he was never annoyed with venomous enemies, nor disquieted with idle cogitations.
Insomuch, that finding all felicity in that shade, and all security in that Sun: he made a solemn vow, to INCORPORATE HIS HEART into that Tree, and ENGRAFT HIS THOUGHTS upon those virtues, swearing, that as there is but one Sun to shine over it, one root to give life unto it, one top to maintain Majesty: so there should be but one Knight, either to live or die for the defence thereof. Whereupon, he swore himself only to be the Knight of the Tree of the Sun, whose life should end before his loyalty.

******************************
Sublime Courtship - Shakespeare's Sacrificial Sublime -
From Phoenix and Turtle - Shakespeare


Here the anthem doth commence:
Love and constancy is dead;
Phoenix and the Turtle fled
In a mutual flame from hence.

So they lov'd, as love in twain
Had the essence but in one;
Two distincts, division none:
Number there in love was slain.

Hearts remote, yet not asunder;
Distance and no space was seen
'Twixt this Turtle and his queen:
But in them it were a wonder.

So between them love did shine
That the Turtle saw his right
Flaming in the Phoenix' sight:
Either was the other's mine.

******************************

Oxford to Cecil – January 1602

Now the matter depending in this sort, I find my state weak and destitute of friends, for having only relied always on her Majesty I have neglected to seek others, and this trust of mine, many things considered, I fear may deceive me.

*****************************

English Authorship and the Early Modern Sublime – Patrick Cheney

In Cynthia’s Revels, near the beginning of his career (first printed 1600), Jonson uses the word twice, both surrounding the figure of Amorphus, described by Mercury in Act 2, scene 3 as ‘a traveller, one so made out of the mixture and shreds of forms that himself is truly deformed’ (66-7). In other words, Amorphus is a figure of transport, and his composition, made up of ‘forms’ that are ‘deformed’, takes us into what we have previously described as Kantian territory. Amorphus is that sublime figure of form that has none (curiously akin to Marlowe’s Helen of Troy), accommodated to the Jonsonian public sphere, where Amorphus’ ‘adaptability and social versatility is a form of shapelessness which links the literal metamorphoses of Echo, Narcissus, and Acteaon, and the cultural ones of Asotus and others’ in the action of the play. (Rassmussen and Steggle).
In using the word ‘sublimated’, Amorphus stands before the Fountain of Self-Love, having just conversed with Narcissus’o ne-time beloved, the beautiful nymph Echo – who has just abandoned Amorphus – when Jonson’s figure of formless form steps forth to take the plunge: ‘Liberal and divine fount, suffer my profane hand to take of they bounties’. Intoxicated by ‘most ambrosiac water’, he broods why the beguiling feminine potency of the well should accept him but Echo turn her heel:

Knowing myself an essence so sublimated and refined by travel, of so studied and well-exercised a gesture, so alone in fashion, able to make the face of any statesman living, and to speak the mere extraction of language…; to conclude, in all so happy as even admiration herself does seem to fasten her kisses upon me; certes I do neither see, nor feel, nor taste, nor savour the least steam or fume of a reason that should invite this foolish fastidious nymph so peevishly to abandon me. (1.3.24-35; emphasis added)

Amorphus speaks the alchemical language of sublimity but adapts it to his personal identity – his ability to transport himself into a heightened state of ‘language’ that attracts the erotic ‘admiration’ of others – in an appropriately comical language of hyperbolic elevation.
Specifically, Amorphus engages in narcissism by vaunting his self-knowledge: ‘travel’ refines and ‘sublimate[s]’ his ‘essence’ into a quintessence of gold, and such sublimity underwrites his social and political theatre, during which he can ‘make the face of any statesman living’, as Jeremy Face will do to London citizens in the Alchemist. Sublime transport here is not transcendent but political and social, the Protean self enlivened, capable of adapting to exigency, endlessly. Self-consciously, Jonson makes comically sublime theatre out of a comically sublime theatrical character. We might even see here an impressive staging of the kind of comical hyperbole discussed by Longinus in On Sublimity, which is one form that the sublime can take: ‘acts and emotion which approach ecstasy provide a justification for, and an antidote to, any linguistic audacity. This is why comic hyperboles, for all their incredulity, are convincing because we laugh at them so much…Laughter is emotion in amusement’.
(snip)
Jonson’s linking of sublimity with a character named ‘Amorphus’ merits pause, because this agile figure looks like a photographic negative of Jonson himself. Without question, the author-figure in Cynthia’s Revels is Criticus (called Crites in the Folio edition), ‘the poet-scholar’ of “Judgement’ who ‘represents Jonson’s literary, philosophical, and ethical ideals’ (Bednarz, Shakespeare & The Poets’ War 159-60), and who becomes the play’s arch-enemy to Amorphus and the motley crew of corrupt courtiers, Hedon, Anaides, ad Asotus. According to James Bednarz, Amorphus is a figure who represents ‘Deformity’ and the ‘lack of true conviction’, and who becomes enamoured of a nymph who happens to be named Phantaste or ‘fantasy’ (159-600. In these terms, the project of the play is to ‘replac[e]…the rhetoric of “nature’ and “instinct” staged in Marston’s Jack Drum with the sterner interdictions of “art” and “judgement” in a larger “allegory of self-knowlledge’ (160). According to Bednarz, Marston had rejected Jonson’s rational, judgemental poetics in favour of one based on imaginative instinct, which Jonson then shows to be purged of cultural authority.
Nonetheless, as Rasmussen and Steggle write, Amorphus ‘prefigures Jonson’s later tricksters’ in being ‘at the centre of the play’s action due to his energy and inventiveness, both verbal and physical’. Rasmussen and Steggle go so far as to see Amorphus as akin to Jonson himself: ‘biographically Jonson is more like Amorphus than Criticus’, citing Jonson’s ‘experiences in foreign travel’ and his ‘natural charisma and drive’. Even ‘Amorphus’s weaknesses (lack of money and tendency to exaggerate) are close to those of Jonson;. Wisely, Rasmussen and Steggle caution against ‘claim[ing] that Amorphus “is” Jonson, or even to over-allegorize the tension between Amorphus and his nemesis Criticus’ (eds. 1:435); but they do help us see that the figure of Amorphus qualifies as a *sublime counter-Jonsonian author-figure*. (pp. 220-1)

**************************************


Othello


Not I, I must be found.
My parts, my title, and my perfect soul
Shall manifest me rightly.


**************************************

a sublime counter-Jonsonian author-figure: pillorying the False Sublime


Jonson’s Mock Encomium and the Hyperbolical Sublime: Above the need/Since thy flight from hence

71Sweet Swan of Avon! what a *sight* it were (Jonson’s suspicion of sight/seeming/seem shake lance)
72To *see thee in our waters yet appear*, (uroscopy/disease)
73And make those flights upon the banks of Thames, (Mount/bank)
74That so did take Eliza and our James! (take/deceive)

******************************
Patrick Cheney, English Authorship and the Early Modern Sublime:

[... ] Indeed, the word [sublime] as a noun and adjective is fundamentally a sixteenth-century invention. According to Shaw, the word 'sublime' means 'The highest of the high; that which is without comparison; the awe-inspiring or overpowering; the unbounded and the undetermined'. Yet the Oxford Classical Dictionary recalls that the word derives from the Latin sublimitas, and comes to mean 'that quality of genius in great literary works which irresistibly delights, inspires, and overwhelms the reader. Fortuitously, the OED's first recorded example under Definition 2, 'Of language, style, or a literary work: expressing noble ideas in a grand and elevated manner', traces to Angel Day, who, in his 1586 English Secretorie, discusses the three styles of rhetoric: low, middle, and high of 'sublime'. the sublime style, Day says, is

the highest and statelyest maner, and loftiest deliverance of anye thing that maye bee, expressing the heroicall and mightye actions of Kinges, Princes, and other honourable personages, the stile whereof is sayde to be tragicall swelling in choyce, and those the most hautiest termes. (p.5)

****************************
Angel Day, The English Secretary - Dedication to Oxford



To the right Honourable Lord, EDWARD de VERE, Earle of Oxenford, Viscount Bulbeck, Lord Sandford and of Badelesmere, and Lord great Camberlaine of England, all Honour and happinesse, correspondent to his most Noble de- sires, and in the commutation of this earthlie beeing, endlesse ioyes and an euerlasting habitation.
ZEVXES endeuou|ring to paint excellent lie, made Grapes in shewe so naturall, that presenting them to view men were deceaued with their shapes and the birdes with their cullours. When Apelles drew Venus (though the shew of bewtie seemed woonder|ful) he daunted not in his workmanship, because he knew his cunning excellent.
If in penning I were as skilful as the least of these in painting: I should neither faint to present a discourse to Alexander, nor to tell a tale to a Philosopher.
My honourable L. the exceeding bountie wherewith your good L. hath euer wonted to entertaine the desertes of all men, and very apparaunce of Nobility her selfe, wel known to haue reposed her delights in the worthines of your stately mind warranteth me: almost, that I need not blush to recommend vnto your curteous vew, the first fruits of these my formost labours, and to honour this present discourse with the memorie of your euerlasting worthinesse. And albeit by the learned view and insight of your L. whose infancy from the beginning was euer sacred to the Muses, the whole course heereof may be found nothing suche, as in the lowest part of the same may appeare in any sort answerable to so greate and forward excellence: and that the continuaunce of this slender substance, is in no point matchable to manie thinges of greater science, passing vnder your honourable countenaunce: yet may your L. please to consider, that presentes (not out of the riche store and plentye a lone of the wealthiest) are alwaies receiued as testimonies of regarde, in the reputation of the mightiest: but sometimes trifles also ensuing of lesse habilitie, (not honoured or reputed of by theyr valew, but by the generous estate and surpassing bountie of the receiuer) are accompted of, moste espe|cially.
For the shrowd of my defence, that haue so much dared vpon presumption of your accustomed fauor, to infixe your honoured name in the forefronte of this my traueile: I can propoze no one in example vnto your L. more worthie then your selfe, who not vnacquainted with the speciall partes and aeternized memorie of them all, haue long since endeuoured your self to become a noble patterne of them all, the exemplifieng of whose praise, cannot by anie speeches of mine, be herein more greatlye put forwardes, then the same long since hath bene published by the renowme of your own proper vertues.
My humble request vnto your L. is, that your gentle acceptance hereof may be an encouragement to my after endeuours, for whose sake I knowe the same shalbe of many regarded,
and the insufficiency thereof the better protected. In which, besides the continuall manifestation of your owne worthinesse, your L. shall binde me to honor you in al duetie and humblenes, praying the eternall creator and guid of all your stately enterprises, to haue the same with your L. in his fauorable pro|tection.

Your L. most deuoted and loyally affected. Angel Daie.

*****************************

Of the staid FURIOUS POET FUCUS.

Epig. 114

Fucus the FURIOUS POET writes but Plaies;
So, playing, writes: that’s, idly writeth all:

Yet, idle Plaies, and Players are his Staies;
Which stay him that he can no lower fall:

For, he is fall’n into the deep’st decay,
Where Playes and Players keepe him at a stay.



****************************

Rhodri Lewis:

...the visionary quality of the furor poeticus was by definition irrational, and easily contaminated by the threat of ‘enthusiasm’; as there was Restoration consensus that the civil wars had been the product of enthusiastic speech and writing, this contamination was fatal. Consequently, the imitative model of poetics – and with it, translation – came to have a new prestige and cultural importance as an antidote to such anxieties: in CONSTRAINING the poet’s FREEDOM to ERR, it was seen as doing important meta-literary work, and conferred an intrinsic mutuality on the literary enterprise:

****************************
Constraining/Holding/Ruling Shakespeare's Sublime Quill:

From To the Deceased Author of these Poems (William Cartwright)

by Jasper Mayne

For thou to Nature had'st joyn'd Art, and skill.
In Thee Ben Johnson still HELD SHAKESPEARE'S QUILL:
A QUILL, RUL'D by sharp Judgement, and such Laws,
As a well studied Mind, and Reason draws.
Thy Lamp was cherish'd with suppolied of Oyle,
Fetch'd from the Romane and the Graecian soyle. (snip)

****************************
Beauty/Budd
Truth/Vere

Melville's Sacrificial Sublime - Billy/book/heir/sublimated essence/Marston's 'Wondrous Creature'


At sea in the old time, the execution by halter of a military sailor was generally from the fore-yard. In the present instance, *for special reasons the main-yard was assigned*. Under an arm of that lee-yard the prisoner was presently brought up, the Chaplain attending him. It was noted at the time and remarked upon afterwards, that in this final scene the good man evinced little or nothing of the perfunctory. Brief speech indeed he had with the condemned one, but the genuine Gospel was less on his tongue than in his aspect and manner towards him. The final preparations personal to the latter being speedily brought to an end by two boatswain's mates, the consummation impended. Billy stood facing aft. At the penultimate moment, his words, his only ones, words wholly unobstructed in the utterance were these--"God bless Captain Vere!" Syllables so unanticipated coming from one with the ignominious hemp about his neck-- a conventional felon's benediction directed aft towards the quarters of honor; syllables too delivered in the clear melody of a singing-bird on the point of launching from the twig, had a phenomenal effect, not unenhanced by the rare personal beauty of the young sailor *spiritualized now thro' late experiences so poignantly profound*.
Without volition as it were, as if indeed the ship's populace were but the vehicles of some vocal current electric, with one voice from alow and aloft came a resonant sympathetic echo--"God bless Captain Vere!" And yet at that instant Billy alone must have been in their hearts, even as he was in their eyes.
At the pronounced words and the spontaneous echo that voluminously rebounded them, Captain Vere, either thro' stoic self-control or a sort of *momentary paralysis induced by emotional shock*, stood erectly rigid as a musket in the ship-armorer's rack.
The hull deliberately recovering from the periodic roll to leeward was just regaining an even keel, when the last signal, a preconcerted dumb one, was given. At the same moment it chanced that the vapory fleece hanging low in the East, was shot thro' with a soft glory as of the fleece of the Lamb of God seen in mystical vision, and simultaneously therewith, watched by the wedged mass of upturned faces, Billy ascended; and, ascending, took the full rose of the dawn.
In the *****PINIONED FIGURE*****, arrived at the yard-end, to the WONDER of all no motion was apparent, none save that created by the ship's motion, in moderate weather so majestic in a great ship ponderously cannoned.

*******************************
False Sublime -

Title: Q. Horatius Flaccus: his Art of poetry. Englished by Ben:
Jonson. With other workes of the author, never printed before Date:1640

...Those that are wise, a FURIOUS POET feare,
And flye to touch him, as a man that were
Infected with the Leprosie, or had
The yellow jaundis, or were truely mad,
Under the angry Moon: but then the boyes
They vexe, and careless follow him with noise.
This, while he belcheth LOFTY Verses out,
And stalketh, like a Fowler, round about,
Busie to catch a Black-bird; if he fall
Into a pit, or hole, although he call
And crye aloud, help gentle Country-men;
There's none will take the care to help him, then, For if one should,
and with a rope make hast
To let it downe, who knowes, if he did cast
Himselfe there purposely or no; and would Not thence be sav'd,
although indeed he could;
Ile tell you but the death, and the disease
Of the Sysilian Poet, Empedocles'
He, while he labour'd to be thought a god,
Immortall, took a melancholick, odd
Conceipt, and into burning Aetna leap't.
Let Poets perish that will not be kept.


He that preserves a man against his will,
Doth the same thing with him that would him kill.
Nor did he doe this, once; if yet you can
Now, bring him back, he'le be no more a man,
Or love of this his famous death lay by.
Here's one makes verses, but there's none knows why;
Whether he hath pissed upon his Fathers grave:
Or the sad thunder-strucken thing he have,
Polluted, touch't: but certainly he's mad;
And as a Beare, if he the strength but had
To force the Grates that hold him in, would fright
All; so this grievous writer puts to flight
Learn'd, and unlearn'd; holdeth whom once he takes;
And there an end of him with reading makes:
Not letting goe the skin, where he drawes food,
Till, horse-leech like, he drop off, full of blood.
Finis
***********************
Tom O'Bedlam - Anonymous

With a host of FURIOUS FANCIES
Whereof I am commander,
With a burning spear and a horse of air,
To the wilderness I wander.
By a knight of ghostes and shadowes
I summon'd am to tourney
Ten leagues beyond the wild world's end.
Methinks it is no journey.

.
marc hanson
2020-12-12 13:44:22 UTC
Permalink
Post by Dennis
Epigraph to Jonson's _Sejanus:_
Non hic Centauros, non Gorgonas, Harpyiasque
Invenies: Hominem pagina nostra sapit. Mart.
The English translation of the poem Mart 10.4
You, who read of Oedipus and Thyestes neath a darkened sun, of Colchian witches and Scyllas - of what do you read but monsters? What will the rape of Hylas avail you, what Parthenopaeus and Attis, what the sleeper Endymion? or the boy stripped of his gliding wings? or Hermaphroditus who hates the amorous waters? Why does the vain twaddle of a wretched sheet attract you? read this of which Life can say" :Tis my own". Not here will you find centaurs, nor gorgons and harpies: tis of man my page smacks. But you do not wish, Mamurra, to recognize your own manners, or to know yourself. Origins of Callimachus (trans. Walter C.A. Ker, the Loeb Classical Library)
************************************************
Jonson, _Timber_
See where he complains of their painting CHIMAERAS (by the vulgar unaptly called grotesque) saying that men who were born truly to study and emulate Nature did nothing but MAKE MONSTERS AGAINST NATURE, which Horace so laughed at.
************************
Bartholomew Fair, Jonson, From the Induction to the Stage
...If there be ne- ver a Servant-monster i' the Fair, who can help it, he says, nor a Nest of Antiques? He is loth to make Nature afraid in his Plays, like those that beget Tales, Tempests, and such like Drolleries, to MIX HIS HEAD with other MENS HEELS; let the concupiscence of Jigs and Dances, reign as strong as it will amongst you: yet if the Puppets will please any body, they shall be entreated to come in.
********************************
The word PRODIGIALITER apparently refers to that fictitious monster, under which the poet allusively shadows out the idea of absurd and inconsistent composition. The application, however, differs in this, that, whereas the monster, there painted, was intended to expose the extravagance of putting together incongruous parts, without any reference to a whole, this prodigy is designed to characterize a whole, but deformed by the ill-judged position of its parts. The former is like a monster, whose several members as of right belonging to different animals, could by no disposition be made to constitute one consistent animal. The other, like a landscape which hath no objects absolutely irrelative, or irreducible to a whole, but which a wrong position of the parts only renders prodigious. Send the boar to the woods, and the dolphin to the waves; and the painter might show them both on the same canvas.
Each is a violation of the law of unity, and a real monster: the one, because it contains an assemblage of natural incoherent parts; the other, because its parts, though in themselves coherent, are misplaced and disjointed. (see Droeshout Deformity)
*************************************************************
prodigialiter
ADV
amazingly| wonderfully
prodigialiter
unnaturally, extravagantly
************************
extravagari - wandering beyond bounds
************************************************
Jonson, _The Alchemist_
TO THE READER.
If thou beest more, thou art an understander, and then I trust
thee. If thou art one that takest up, and but a pretender,
beware of what hands thou receivest thy commodity; for thou wert
never more fair in the way to be cozened, than in THIS AGE, in
poetry, especially in plays: wherein, *now the CONCUPISCENCE of
DANCES and of antics so reigneth, as to run away from nature,
and be afraid of her, is the only point of art that tickles the
spectators*. But how out of purpose, and place, do I name art?
When the professors are grown so obstinate contemners of it, and
presumers on their own naturals, as they are deriders of all
diligence that way, and, by simple mocking at the terms, when
they understand not the things, think to get off wittily with
their IGNORANCE. Nay, they are esteemed the more learned, and
sufficient for this, by the many, through their excellent vice
of judgment. For they commend writers, as they do fencers or
wrestlers; who if they come in robustuously, and put for it with
when many times their own rudeness is the cause of their
disgrace, and a little touch of their adversary gives all that
boisterous force the foil. I deny not, but that these men, who
always seek to do more than enough, may some time happen on some
thing that is good, and great; but very seldom; and when it
comes it doth not recompense the rest of their ill. It sticks
out, perhaps, and is more eminent, because all is sordid and
VILE about it: as lights are more discerned in a thick darkness,
than a faint shadow. I speak not this, out of a hope to do good
to any man against his will; for I know, if it were put to the
question of theirs and mine, the worse would find more
suffrages: because the most favour common errors. But I give
thee this warning, that there is a great difference between
those, that, to gain the opinion of copy, utter all they can,
however unfitly; and those that use election and a mean. For it
is only the disease of the unskilful, to think rude things
greater than polished; or scattered more numerous than composed.
***************************
HOBBES'S LEVIATHAN: MONSTERS, METAPHORS, AND MAGIC
BY ROBERT E. STILLMAN
Hobbes's sense of his place in cultural history is key to understanding the character and the contradictions of Leviathan. Early and late in his long writing career, he represents his philosophical life as a battle against monstrous texts. De cive's "Preface to the Reader" narrates a Hobbesian myth of the fall, in which a golden age of power and authority enjoyed by sovereigns is destroyed by the "disputations" of private men. 1 To illustrate his point, Hobbes cites the classical fable of Ixion's adulterous courtship of Juno: "Offering to embrace her, he clasped a cloud; from whence the Centaurs proceeded, by nature half men, half horses, a fierce, a fighting, and unquiet generation" (2:xiii). His allegorization of the fable is Baconian both in its method -- its derivation of philosophical truths from mythology -- and in its attribution of the origins of political sedition to seditious language and seditious desires: "private men being called to councils of state, desired to prostitute justice, the only sister and wife of the supreme, to their own judgments and apprehensions; but embracing a false and empty shadow instead of it, they have begotten those hermaphrodite opinions of moral philosophers, partly right and comely, partly brutal and wild"
(snip)
Hobbes is fond of metaphors of the monstrous, and his employment of them, especially in crucial accounts of his own vocational ambitions, is recurrent and revealing. His claim to having spent a career battling the metaphorical monsters of false systems of knowledge complements his lifelong attacks, I will argue, against the monsters of metaphor. Viewed from a broad historical perspective, Hobbes's attack stands as one characteristic, albeit especially fierce, expression of hostility to metaphor on the part of the seventeenth century's new philosophers. Monsters, as marvels of nature, have their verbal counterparts in metaphors, the marvels of speech. As Paul de Man argues, within metaphors, as inside the most violent catachreses, "something monstrous lurks." 4 (The very word catachresis means an "abuse" of language.) Metaphors can appear dangerous, even monstrous, because "they are capable of inventing the most fantastic entities by dint of the positional power inherent in language. They can dismember the texture of reality and reassemble it in the most capricious of ways, pairing man with woman or human being with beast in the most unnatural shapes." 5 As a consequence, de Man argues, metaphor has been "a perennial problem and, at times, a recognized source of embarrassment for philosophical discourse." 6 That embarrassment becomes especially acute during the seventeenth century because of metaphor's association with subjective imagination, passion, and the monstrous, with all that contrasts with objective judgment, reason, and the natural. As a result, the opposition between the literal and the figural underlies many of the crucial polarities of the century's discourse: the divide between truth and falsehood, natural philosophy and poetry, philosophical discourse and rhetoric, to name only a few. 7 Especially in the civil war years, a hostility to metaphor becomes acute, too, because as a monstrous rebel to linguistic law, metaphor is associated with the monstrous rebels of mob rule. To attack metaphor is to attack the monstrous mother of all seditious philosophies, and a monstrous breeder of sedition itself.
****************************************************************************
To conclude, the light of human minds is perspicuous words, but by exact definitions first snuffed, and purged from ambiguity; reason is the pace; increase of science, the way; and the benefit of mankind, the end. And on the contrary, metaphors, and senseless and ambiguous words, are like ignes fatui; and reasoning upon them is wandering amongst innumerable absurdities; and their end, contention and sedition, or contempt. (Hobbes, Leviathan)
*************************************
Southern, Pandora (1584)
To the right honourable the Earl of Oxenford etc.
(snip)
Epode
No, no, the high singer is he
Alone that in the end must be
Made proud with a garland like this,
And not every riming novice
That writes with small wit and much pain,
And the (God’s know) idiot in vain,
For it’s not the way to Parnasse,
Nor it will neither come to pass
If it be not in some wise fiction
And of an ingenious INVENTION,
And INFANTED with PLEASANT TRAVAIL,
For it alone must win the laurel,
And only the poet WELL BORN
Must be he that goes to Parnassus,
And not these companies of asses
That have brought verse almost to scorn.
***************************
Amorphus/altezza d’ingegno
Jonson, _Cynthia's Revels_.
AMORPHUS. And there's her minion, Crites: why his advice more than
Amorphus? Have I not invention afore him? Learning to better
that INVENTION above him? and INFANTED with PLEASANT TRAVEL –
******************************
Dedication in Latin to Bartholomew Clerke's Translation of The Courtier(1571/1572). Edward de Vere
[translated by B. M. Ward]
For what more difficult, more noble, or more magnificent task has anyone ever undertaken than our author Castiglione, who has drawn for us the figure and model of a courtier, a work to which nothing can be added, in which there is no redundant word, a portrait which we shall recognize as that of a highest and most perfect type of man. And so, although nature herself has made nothing perfect in every detail, yet the MANNERS of men exceed in dignity that with which nature has endowed them; and he who surpasses others has here surpassed himself and has even OUT-DONE nature [i.e., naturam superauit], which by no one has ever been surpassed. Nay more: however elaborate the ceremonial, whatever the magnificence of the court, the splendor of the courtiers, and the multitude of spectators, he has been able to lay down principles for the guidance of the very Monarch himself.
****************************
Greene's Groatsworth
There is an upstart Crow, beautiful in our feathers, that, with his tiger's heart wrapt in a player's hide, supposes he is as well able to bombast out a blank verse as the best of you, and, being an absolute Johannes Factotum, is, in his own conceit, the only Shakescene in the country. Oh, that I might entreat your rare wits to be employed in more profitable courses, and let these apes imitate your past excellence, and never more acquaint them with your admired inventions."
****************************
Act V. Scene I.
Mercury, Crites.
I
T is resolv'd on, Crites, you must do it.
Cri. The Grace divinest Mercury hath done me,
In this vouchsafed discovery of himself,
Binds my observance in the utmost terme
Though I profess (without the affectation
Of an enforc'd, and form'd austerity)
I could be willing to enjoy no place
With so unequal Natures. Mer. We believe it.
But for our sake, and to inflict just pains
No man is, presently, made bad, with ill.
And good men, like the Sea, should still maintain
Their noble taste, in midst of all fresh humours,
That flow about them, to corrupt their Streams,
Bearing no season, much less salt of goodness.
It is our purpose, Crites, to correct,
And punish, with our laughter, this nights sport.
And by that worthy scorn, to make them know
How far beneath the dignity of Man
Their serious, and most practis'd Actions are.
Cri. I, but though Mercury can warrant out
His Undertakings, and make all things good,
Out of the Powers of his Divinity,
Th' offence will be return'd with weight on me,
That am a Creature so despis'd, and poor;
When the whole Court shall take it self abus'd
By our Ironical Confederacy.
Mer. You are deceiv'd. The better Race in Court
Will apprehend it, as a grateful right
Done to their separate merit: and approve
The fit rebuke of so ridiculous Heads,
Who with their apish Customs, and forc'd Garbs,
Would bring the name of Courtier in contempt,
Did it not live unblemisht in some few,
Whom equal Jove hath lov'd, and Phœbus form'd
Of better Metal, and in better mould.
**************************
The Theory of the Sublime from Longinus to Kant
By Robert Doran
Sublimity as cultural theory
My effort to uncover some structural and thematic unity in the theory and discourse of sublimity challenges the notion that the sublime requires an appeal to an extrinsic theory (such as psychoanalysis) as an organizing principle. I see the theory of the sublime as possessing a critical function of its own, namely as an implicit theory of culture, a notion that goes back to Longinus’s treatise, which extends beyond questions of verbal expression to the elucidation of a specific moral and cultural outlook. This is particularly in evidence in the final chapter of the treatise, which links the dearth of literary greatness to cultural decline and decadence. This fusion of aesthetic reflection and cultural critique will become an important feature of the modern theory of sublimity.
As the index of an affective state of high-mindedness – elevation/nobility of soul – the transcendence-structure of the sublime becomes an important factor in shaping attitudes toward the great social revolution of modernity: the decline of the feudal nobility and the emergence of a middle class, the shift from a culture based on an aristocratic-warrior ethos to one reflecting bourgeois-mercantile values. By connecting aesthetic intensity and elevation to the idea of nobility of mind, by replacing properly religious experience with an analogous, aesthetically inflected structure, the sublime represents one of the pivot points on which the transition from a traditional or hierarchical to a democratizing society is thought. In effect, what thinkers such as Boileau, Burke, and Kant achieve through the sublime is a bourgeois appropriation of aristocratic subjectivity (the heroic cast of mind). *The extent to which the sublime is used to exalt the bourgeois individual through the aesthetic is perhaps the least understood aspect of the discourse of sublimity.*
****************************
Jonson, Cynthia's Revels - Moral (bourgeois?) Sublime
Cupid. His name, Hermes?
Mercury. Crites. A Creature of a most perfect and divine
Temper: One, in whom the Humours and Elements
are peaceably met, without emulation of Prcedency;
he is neither too phantastickly Melancholy, too slowly
Phlegmatick, too lightly Sanguine, or too rashly Cho-
lerick, but in all, so compos'd and order'd, as it is clear,
Nature went about some full work, she did more than
make a Man when she made him. His Discourse is like
his Behaviour, uncommon, but not unpleasing; he is
prodigal of neither. He strives rather to be that which
Men call Judicious, than to be thought so; and is so
truly Learned, that he affects not to shew it. He will
think, and speak his thought both freely; but as distant
from depraving another Mans Merit, as proclaiming his
own. For his Valour, 'tis such, that he dares as little
to offer an Injury as receive one. In sum, he hath a most
ingenuous and sweet Spirit, a sharp and season'd Wit,
a straight Judgment, and a strong Mind. Fortune could
never break him, nor make him less. He counts it his
Pleasure to despise Pleasures, and is more delighted with
good Deeds than Goods. It is a competency to him that
he can be Vertuous. He doth neither covet nor fear;
he hath too much reason to do either; and that com-
mends all things to him.
********************************
As the index of an affective state of high-mindedness – elevation/nobility of soul – the transcendence-structure of the sublime becomes an important factor in shaping attitudes toward the great social revolution of modernity: the decline of the feudal nobility and the emergence of a middle class, the shift from a culture based on an aristocratic-warrior ethos to one reflecting bourgeois-mercantile values. (Doran, The Theory of the Sublime from Longinus to Kant)
********************************
THRENOS.
Beauty, truth, and rarity.
Grace in all simplicity,
Here enclos'd in cinders lie.
Death is now the phoenix' nest;
And the turtle's loyal breast
To eternity doth rest,
Leaving no posterity:--
'Twas not their infirmity,
It was married chastity.
Beauty brag, but 'tis not she;
Truth and beauty buried be.
To this urn let those repair
That are either true or fair;
For these dead birds sigh a prayer.
*******************************
A SPEECH SPOKEN AT THE TRYUMPH BEFORE THE QUEEN’S MOST EXCELLENT MAJESTIE, BY THE PAGE TO THE RIGHT NOBLE CHAMPION, THE EARL OF OXENFORD: January 22, 1581.
(snip)
…Thus wandering a weary way, he espied at the last a Tree so beautiful, that his eyes were dazzled with the brightness, which as he was going unto, he met by good fortune a Pilgrim or Hermit, he knew not well, who being apparelled as though he were to travel into all Countries, but so aged as though he were to live continually in a Cave. Of this old Sire he demanded what Tree it was, who taking this Knight by the hand, began in these words both to utter the name and nature of the Tree.
This Tree fair Knight is called the Tree of the Sun, whose nature is always to stand alone, not suffering a companion, being itself without comparison: of which kind, there are no more in the earth than Suns in the Element. The world can hold but one Phoenix, one Alexander, one Sun-Tree, in top contrary to all Trees: it is strongest, & so stately to behold, that the more other shrubs shrink for duty, the higher it exalteth it self in Majesty.
For as the clear beams of the Sun cause all the stars to lose their light, so the brightness of this golden Tree, eclipseth the commendation of all other Plants. The leaves of pure Gold, the bark no worse, the buds pearls, the body Chrisocolla, the Sap Nectar, the root so noble as it springeth from two Turkeies (Turquoises), both so perfect, as neither can stain the other, each contending once for superiority, and now both constrained to be equals. *Vesta’s bird* sitteth in the midst, whereat Cupid is ever drawing, but dares not shoot, being amazed at the princely and perfect Majesty. [note - see 'Love's Martyr - 'Vesta's Bird' as Turtle-Dove?]
(snip)
At the last, resting under the shadow, he felt such content, as nothing could be more comfortable. The days he spent in virtuous delights, the night slipped away in golden Dreams; he was never annoyed with venomous enemies, nor disquieted with idle cogitations.
Insomuch, that finding all felicity in that shade, and all security in that Sun: he made a solemn vow, to INCORPORATE HIS HEART into that Tree, and ENGRAFT HIS THOUGHTS upon those virtues, swearing, that as there is but one Sun to shine over it, one root to give life unto it, one top to maintain Majesty: so there should be but one Knight, either to live or die for the defence thereof. Whereupon, he swore himself only to be the Knight of the Tree of the Sun, whose life should end before his loyalty.
******************************
Sublime Courtship - Shakespeare's Sacrificial Sublime -
From Phoenix and Turtle - Shakespeare
Love and constancy is dead;
Phoenix and the Turtle fled
In a mutual flame from hence.
So they lov'd, as love in twain
Had the essence but in one;
Number there in love was slain.
Hearts remote, yet not asunder;
Distance and no space was seen
But in them it were a wonder.
So between them love did shine
That the Turtle saw his right
Either was the other's mine.
******************************
Oxford to Cecil – January 1602
Now the matter depending in this sort, I find my state weak and destitute of friends, for having only relied always on her Majesty I have neglected to seek others, and this trust of mine, many things considered, I fear may deceive me.
*****************************
English Authorship and the Early Modern Sublime – Patrick Cheney
In Cynthia’s Revels, near the beginning of his career (first printed 1600), Jonson uses the word twice, both surrounding the figure of Amorphus, described by Mercury in Act 2, scene 3 as ‘a traveller, one so made out of the mixture and shreds of forms that himself is truly deformed’ (66-7). In other words, Amorphus is a figure of transport, and his composition, made up of ‘forms’ that are ‘deformed’, takes us into what we have previously described as Kantian territory. Amorphus is that sublime figure of form that has none (curiously akin to Marlowe’s Helen of Troy), accommodated to the Jonsonian public sphere, where Amorphus’ ‘adaptability and social versatility is a form of shapelessness which links the literal metamorphoses of Echo, Narcissus, and Acteaon, and the cultural ones of Asotus and others’ in the action of the play. (Rassmussen and Steggle).
Knowing myself an essence so sublimated and refined by travel, of so studied and well-exercised a gesture, so alone in fashion, able to make the face of any statesman living, and to speak the mere extraction of language…; to conclude, in all so happy as even admiration herself does seem to fasten her kisses upon me; certes I do neither see, nor feel, nor taste, nor savour the least steam or fume of a reason that should invite this foolish fastidious nymph so peevishly to abandon me. (1.3.24-35; emphasis added)
Amorphus speaks the alchemical language of sublimity but adapts it to his personal identity – his ability to transport himself into a heightened state of ‘language’ that attracts the erotic ‘admiration’ of others – in an appropriately comical language of hyperbolic elevation.
Specifically, Amorphus engages in narcissism by vaunting his self-knowledge: ‘travel’ refines and ‘sublimate[s]’ his ‘essence’ into a quintessence of gold, and such sublimity underwrites his social and political theatre, during which he can ‘make the face of any statesman living’, as Jeremy Face will do to London citizens in the Alchemist. Sublime transport here is not transcendent but political and social, the Protean self enlivened, capable of adapting to exigency, endlessly. Self-consciously, Jonson makes comically sublime theatre out of a comically sublime theatrical character. We might even see here an impressive staging of the kind of comical hyperbole discussed by Longinus in On Sublimity, which is one form that the sublime can take: ‘acts and emotion which approach ecstasy provide a justification for, and an antidote to, any linguistic audacity. This is why comic hyperboles, for all their incredulity, are convincing because we laugh at them so much…Laughter is emotion in amusement’.
(snip)
Jonson’s linking of sublimity with a character named ‘Amorphus’ merits pause, because this agile figure looks like a photographic negative of Jonson himself. Without question, the author-figure in Cynthia’s Revels is Criticus (called Crites in the Folio edition), ‘the poet-scholar’ of “Judgement’ who ‘represents Jonson’s literary, philosophical, and ethical ideals’ (Bednarz, Shakespeare & The Poets’ War 159-60), and who becomes the play’s arch-enemy to Amorphus and the motley crew of corrupt courtiers, Hedon, Anaides, ad Asotus. According to James Bednarz, Amorphus is a figure who represents ‘Deformity’ and the ‘lack of true conviction’, and who becomes enamoured of a nymph who happens to be named Phantaste or ‘fantasy’ (159-600. In these terms, the project of the play is to ‘replac[e]…the rhetoric of “nature’ and “instinct” staged in Marston’s Jack Drum with the sterner interdictions of “art” and “judgement” in a larger “allegory of self-knowlledge’ (160). According to Bednarz, Marston had rejected Jonson’s rational, judgemental poetics in favour of one based on imaginative instinct, which Jonson then shows to be purged of cultural authority.
Nonetheless, as Rasmussen and Steggle write, Amorphus ‘prefigures Jonson’s later tricksters’ in being ‘at the centre of the play’s action due to his energy and inventiveness, both verbal and physical’. Rasmussen and Steggle go so far as to see Amorphus as akin to Jonson himself: ‘biographically Jonson is more like Amorphus than Criticus’, citing Jonson’s ‘experiences in foreign travel’ and his ‘natural charisma and drive’. Even ‘Amorphus’s weaknesses (lack of money and tendency to exaggerate) are close to those of Jonson;. Wisely, Rasmussen and Steggle caution against ‘claim[ing] that Amorphus “is” Jonson, or even to over-allegorize the tension between Amorphus and his nemesis Criticus’ (eds. 1:435); but they do help us see that the figure of Amorphus qualifies as a *sublime counter-Jonsonian author-figure*. (pp. 220-1)
**************************************
Othello
Not I, I must be found.
My parts, my title, and my perfect soul
Shall manifest me rightly.
**************************************
a sublime counter-Jonsonian author-figure: pillorying the False Sublime
Jonson’s Mock Encomium and the Hyperbolical Sublime: Above the need/Since thy flight from hence
71Sweet Swan of Avon! what a *sight* it were (Jonson’s suspicion of sight/seeming/seem shake lance)
72To *see thee in our waters yet appear*, (uroscopy/disease)
73And make those flights upon the banks of Thames, (Mount/bank)
74That so did take Eliza and our James! (take/deceive)
******************************
[... ] Indeed, the word [sublime] as a noun and adjective is fundamentally a sixteenth-century invention. According to Shaw, the word 'sublime' means 'The highest of the high; that which is without comparison; the awe-inspiring or overpowering; the unbounded and the undetermined'. Yet the Oxford Classical Dictionary recalls that the word derives from the Latin sublimitas, and comes to mean 'that quality of genius in great literary works which irresistibly delights, inspires, and overwhelms the reader. Fortuitously, the OED's first recorded example under Definition 2, 'Of language, style, or a literary work: expressing noble ideas in a grand and elevated manner', traces to Angel Day, who, in his 1586 English Secretorie, discusses the three styles of rhetoric: low, middle, and high of 'sublime'. the sublime style, Day says, is
the highest and statelyest maner, and loftiest deliverance of anye thing that maye bee, expressing the heroicall and mightye actions of Kinges, Princes, and other honourable personages, the stile whereof is sayde to be tragicall swelling in choyce, and those the most hautiest termes. (p.5)
****************************
Angel Day, The English Secretary - Dedication to Oxford
To the right Honourable Lord, EDWARD de VERE, Earle of Oxenford, Viscount Bulbeck, Lord Sandford and of Badelesmere, and Lord great Camberlaine of England, all Honour and happinesse, correspondent to his most Noble de- sires, and in the commutation of this earthlie beeing, endlesse ioyes and an euerlasting habitation.
ZEVXES endeuou|ring to paint excellent lie, made Grapes in shewe so naturall, that presenting them to view men were deceaued with their shapes and the birdes with their cullours. When Apelles drew Venus (though the shew of bewtie seemed woonder|ful) he daunted not in his workmanship, because he knew his cunning excellent.
If in penning I were as skilful as the least of these in painting: I should neither faint to present a discourse to Alexander, nor to tell a tale to a Philosopher.
My honourable L. the exceeding bountie wherewith your good L. hath euer wonted to entertaine the desertes of all men, and very apparaunce of Nobility her selfe, wel known to haue reposed her delights in the worthines of your stately mind warranteth me: almost, that I need not blush to recommend vnto your curteous vew, the first fruits of these my formost labours, and to honour this present discourse with the memorie of your euerlasting worthinesse. And albeit by the learned view and insight of your L. whose infancy from the beginning was euer sacred to the Muses, the whole course heereof may be found nothing suche, as in the lowest part of the same may appeare in any sort answerable to so greate and forward excellence: and that the continuaunce of this slender substance, is in no point matchable to manie thinges of greater science, passing vnder your honourable countenaunce: yet may your L. please to consider, that presentes (not out of the riche store and plentye a lone of the wealthiest) are alwaies receiued as testimonies of regarde, in the reputation of the mightiest: but sometimes trifles also ensuing of lesse habilitie, (not honoured or reputed of by theyr valew, but by the generous estate and surpassing bountie of the receiuer) are accompted of, moste espe|cially.
For the shrowd of my defence, that haue so much dared vpon presumption of your accustomed fauor, to infixe your honoured name in the forefronte of this my traueile: I can propoze no one in example vnto your L. more worthie then your selfe, who not vnacquainted with the speciall partes and aeternized memorie of them all, haue long since endeuoured your self to become a noble patterne of them all, the exemplifieng of whose praise, cannot by anie speeches of mine, be herein more greatlye put forwardes, then the same long since hath bene published by the renowme of your own proper vertues.
My humble request vnto your L. is, that your gentle acceptance hereof may be an encouragement to my after endeuours, for whose sake I knowe the same shalbe of many regarded,
and the insufficiency thereof the better protected. In which, besides the continuall manifestation of your owne worthinesse, your L. shall binde me to honor you in al duetie and humblenes, praying the eternall creator and guid of all your stately enterprises, to haue the same with your L. in his fauorable pro|tection.
Your L. most deuoted and loyally affected. Angel Daie.
*****************************
Of the staid FURIOUS POET FUCUS.
Epig. 114
Fucus the FURIOUS POET writes but Plaies;
Yet, idle Plaies, and Players are his Staies;
For, he is fall’n into the deep’st decay,
Where Playes and Players keepe him at a stay.
****************************
****************************
From To the Deceased Author of these Poems (William Cartwright)
by Jasper Mayne
For thou to Nature had'st joyn'd Art, and skill.
A QUILL, RUL'D by sharp Judgement, and such Laws,
As a well studied Mind, and Reason draws.
Thy Lamp was cherish'd with suppolied of Oyle,
Fetch'd from the Romane and the Graecian soyle. (snip)
****************************
Beauty/Budd
Truth/Vere
Melville's Sacrificial Sublime - Billy/book/heir/sublimated essence/Marston's 'Wondrous Creature'
At sea in the old time, the execution by halter of a military sailor was generally from the fore-yard. In the present instance, *for special reasons the main-yard was assigned*. Under an arm of that lee-yard the prisoner was presently brought up, the Chaplain attending him. It was noted at the time and remarked upon afterwards, that in this final scene the good man evinced little or nothing of the perfunctory. Brief speech indeed he had with the condemned one, but the genuine Gospel was less on his tongue than in his aspect and manner towards him. The final preparations personal to the latter being speedily brought to an end by two boatswain's mates, the consummation impended. Billy stood facing aft. At the penultimate moment, his words, his only ones, words wholly unobstructed in the utterance were these--"God bless Captain Vere!" Syllables so unanticipated coming from one with the ignominious hemp about his neck-- a conventional felon's benediction directed aft towards the quarters of honor; syllables too delivered in the clear melody of a singing-bird on the point of launching from the twig, had a phenomenal effect, not unenhanced by the rare personal beauty of the young sailor *spiritualized now thro' late experiences so poignantly profound*.
Without volition as it were, as if indeed the ship's populace were but the vehicles of some vocal current electric, with one voice from alow and aloft came a resonant sympathetic echo--"God bless Captain Vere!" And yet at that instant Billy alone must have been in their hearts, even as he was in their eyes.
At the pronounced words and the spontaneous echo that voluminously rebounded them, Captain Vere, either thro' stoic self-control or a sort of *momentary paralysis induced by emotional shock*, stood erectly rigid as a musket in the ship-armorer's rack.
The hull deliberately recovering from the periodic roll to leeward was just regaining an even keel, when the last signal, a preconcerted dumb one, was given. At the same moment it chanced that the vapory fleece hanging low in the East, was shot thro' with a soft glory as of the fleece of the Lamb of God seen in mystical vision, and simultaneously therewith, watched by the wedged mass of upturned faces, Billy ascended; and, ascending, took the full rose of the dawn.
In the *****PINIONED FIGURE*****, arrived at the yard-end, to the WONDER of all no motion was apparent, none save that created by the ship's motion, in moderate weather so majestic in a great ship ponderously cannoned.
*******************************
False Sublime -
Jonson. With other workes of the author, never printed before Date:1640
...Those that are wise, a FURIOUS POET feare,
And flye to touch him, as a man that were
Infected with the Leprosie, or had
The yellow jaundis, or were truely mad,
Under the angry Moon: but then the boyes
They vexe, and careless follow him with noise.
This, while he belcheth LOFTY Verses out,
And stalketh, like a Fowler, round about,
Busie to catch a Black-bird; if he fall
Into a pit, or hole, although he call
And crye aloud, help gentle Country-men;
There's none will take the care to help him, then, For if one should,
and with a rope make hast
To let it downe, who knowes, if he did cast
Himselfe there purposely or no; and would Not thence be sav'd,
although indeed he could;
Ile tell you but the death, and the disease
Of the Sysilian Poet, Empedocles'
He, while he labour'd to be thought a god,
Immortall, took a melancholick, odd
Conceipt, and into burning Aetna leap't.
Let Poets perish that will not be kept.
He that preserves a man against his will,
Doth the same thing with him that would him kill.
Nor did he doe this, once; if yet you can
Now, bring him back, he'le be no more a man,
Or love of this his famous death lay by.
Here's one makes verses, but there's none knows why;
Or the sad thunder-strucken thing he have,
Polluted, touch't: but certainly he's mad;
And as a Beare, if he the strength but had
To force the Grates that hold him in, would fright
All; so this grievous writer puts to flight
Learn'd, and unlearn'd; holdeth whom once he takes;
Not letting goe the skin, where he drawes food,
Till, horse-leech like, he drop off, full of blood.
Finis
***********************
Tom O'Bedlam - Anonymous
With a host of FURIOUS FANCIES
Whereof I am commander,
With a burning spear and a horse of air,
To the wilderness I wander.
By a knight of ghostes and shadowes
I summon'd am to tourney
Ten leagues beyond the wild world's end.
Methinks it is no journey.
..
Loading...