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By Mark Noble

In American Poetic Materialism from Whitman to Stevens, Mark Noble examines writers who percentage the idea that personhood might be understood as a fabric occasion. via new readings of Whitman, Emerson, Santayana, and Stevens, Noble uncovers a literary historical past wrestling with the implications of its personal materialism, and asks what this account of shared materiality can let us know in regards to the so much profoundly secular versions of the trendy topic. At a second whilst a number of new versions of the connection among human event and its actual flooring stream between severe theorists and philosophers of technological know-how, American Poetic Materialism explores poets who've lengthy requested what our materiality can let us know approximately our customers for brand new types of our fabric selves.

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Additional info for American Poetic Materialism from Whitman to Stevens (Cambridge Studies in American Literature and Culture)

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The disparate content of today’s many materialisms suggests that specifying matter as the undeluded ground of experience does not in itself generate a coherent model of the human subject or a particular account of its relation to the objective world. Whether material subjects are said to be formed of atoms, affects, drives, neurons, networks of consumption, or some aleatory event of self-organization, their coherence seems to depend, if we look closely, on the addition of special discursive ingredients that distinguishes one critical practice from another.

Or, how to appraise the usefulness of the insight that human subjects can be understood in material terms if that same insight undermines understanding as such? If James and Adorno each describe the impossibility of determinate answers to such questions, they also point toward an insoluble residuum of philosophical materialism – that intuitive (“charmed”) sensation of one’s connection to a material substrate. The logic of that connection seems to refuse the stability our discursive materialisms would require of it.

To an invincible ignorance on which our happiness depends” (75). La Mettrie thus recommends a strategic response to a common problem faced by atomists who attempt explanations of a link between materiality and consciousness. The history of philosophical materialism involves repeated encounters with this relatively straightforward paradox: assertions that reality is comprised exclusively of physical substance rely on a foundational idea – the atom – that is itself curiously insubstantial. The atom, from Democritus onward, owes its exceptional durability and ubiquity to a tenuous set of features that must be imagined because they cannot be observed.

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