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Massachusetts, United States
I am a painter in search of an audience! Here are words to catch search engine hits: painting artist RISD New England Longmeadow Amherst Boston...more as I think of them. Check out my portfolio on a seperate website. The link is on the top of the righthand column

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Harold Bloom-Guilty of Having Strong Beliefs in a Post-Modern World

I love Harold Bloom! It's like being a hidden Fascist or Marxist in a world that only accepts context and relativism. Check out this article in The National Review.
Here are a few of the criticisms leveled at Bloom, ideas that I cherish about the man (who is unafraid of any post-modern claptrap!):

"BE THAT AS IT MAY, Bloom’s ideas, as he elaborated them across a half-dozen more books, came to center on notions derived from gnosticism, the ancient body of mystical beliefs. Gnosticism held that the world of matter, created by inferior gods, represents a fall from a condition of divine unity or fullness. Each of us contains a fragment of that godly fire, a spark trapped within our material selves—which means not only our bodies, but our minds or psyches as well, our intellectual and moral beings. Our true soul is hidden to us, occulted: salvation consists of achieving gnosis, experiential knowledge of that daemon. (This is very far from “self-knowledge” as we ordinarily understand it.) All this matters because Bloom finds gnostic ideas, which persisted well beyond the ancient world, to be widespread in modern spiritual thought, not only at the heart of the Romantic tradition, but also in what he calls the American religion, which he sees as having emerged in the nineteenth century in such sects as Mormonism, Southern Baptism, Christian Science, and others—and which, he says, has little to do with Christianity"

And here is the angst that I fully understand:

Romanticism sought to overcome the world of death, in the wake of the loss of religious explanations and comforts, by creating what Stevens called “supreme fictions”: new systems of symbolic meaning to redeem the cold universe of matter. Bloom sees gnostic ideas—Emerson’s Over-soul, Whitman’s “real Me”—at the center of those attempts; but more to the point, gnosticism serves as a supreme fiction for him. Beneath the jargon and the self-inflation, there is in Bloom an undersong of yearning, of spiritual hunger, a lonely person’s need for solace and belief. What eloquence his writing has—its subsidence, sometimes, into calm simplicity—what claims his work to be the thing to which he says all criticism should aspire, wisdom literature, originates in this urge. (“The ultimate use of Shakespeare is to let him teach you to think too well, to whatever truth you can sustain without perishing.”) The pathos of his thought, as he wrestles the poetic angels for their blessing, lies just in the fact that he both believes and disbelieves his fables of redemption. The ecstatic certainties of Blake or Whitman—imagination’s infinitude, the soul’s immortality—are not for such as him. He is condemned, instead, to Stevens’s melancholy skepticism. Supreme fictions, but only fictions—held together, for the space of the verse, by poetic lines of force."

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