The Falling Sickness: Metaphysics, Poetry, and Betrayal

Dr. David J. Hart
To add a paper, Login.

This paper explores what Plato called the "ancient quarrel" between poetry and metaphysics and attempts to reconcile the two combatants by considering a selection of works by J. L. Borges: two nonfiction essays concerning gnosticism and the metaphysics of time, an interview given by Borges in which he discusses poetry, and a short story entitled "Three Versions of Judas". In the process of constructing a Borgian conception of metaphysics and poetry, I suggest that even though we might construe these two ways of knowing as opposed to one another, the characteristic methodology of each, when followed to its logical conclusion, results in there being no discernable difference between the two. Each of these great competitors becomes what it beholds its opponent to be.

In light of this dialectic, I introduce a third type, the interpreter, as one who hands metaphysics over to poetry and vice versa, betraying the former to the latter and the latter to the former. In so doing, the treacherous work of interpretation comprehends and circumscribes both extremes. This theoretical or conceptual reconciliation proves to be inseparable from the form of my work: a discourse both argumentative and narrational at once, public and private simultaneously, in which I recount my father's struggles with epilepsy. In this way, the theoretical topics shed light on and are themselves illuminated by my relationship with my father and his illness, and the work as a whole reaches toward a grand rapprochement of not only metaphysics and poetry, but the public and the private, objectivity and subjectivity.

Keywords: Metaphysics, Poetry, Borges, Interpretation, Epilepsy
Stream: Philosophy, Ethics, Consciousness
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: Falling Sickness, The

Dr. David J. Hart

Philosophy Department, University of Georgia

Ref: H05P0296