By Thomas Grey
Wallace Stevens was once not just one among America's amazing modernist poets but in addition a winning assurance lawyer--a proven fact that maintains to intrigue many readers. even though Stevens attempted challenging to split his poetry from his career, felony theorist Thomas gray indicates that he didn't finally be triumphant. After stressing how little connection appears to be like at the floor among the 2 elements of Stevens's lifestyles, gray argues that during its pragmatic account of human reasoning, the poetry distinctively illuminates the workings of the legislation.
during this vital extension of the hot law-and-literature flow, gray unearths Stevens as a philosophical poet and implicitly a pragmatist felony theorist, who illustrates how human concept proceeds via "assertion, qualification, and certified reassertion," and the way cause and fervour fuse jointly within the act of interpretation. certainly, Stevens's poetry proves a releasing antidote to the binary common sense that's attribute of felony concept: one part of a case is correct, the opposite mistaken; behavior is both lawful or illegal.
whilst he discovers in Stevens a pragmatist thinker of legislation, gray bargains a strikingly new viewpoint at the poetry itself. within the poems that enhance Stevens's "reality-imagination complex"--poems frequently criticized as distant, apolitical, and hermetic--Grey unearths a physique of labor that not just captivates the reader but in addition presents a distinct device for scrutinizing the concept strategies of legal professionals and judges of their workout of social energy.
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Additional resources for The Wallace Stevens Case: Law and the Practice of Poetry
32 As the poet approaches his creative center, his thought "makes itself manifest in a kind of speech that comes from secrecy. "33 Too much self-consciousness, too much analytic clarity, threatens poetic creativity; the poet must respect the "foundling of the infected past" that lives in the rag and bone shop of the imagination: 43 Fat Cat, Ghostly Rabbit . . look not at his colored eyes. Give him No names. Dismiss him from your images. 34 Stevens often distinguished between opposed realms of poetry ("the mundo of the imagination") and philosophy ("the gaunt world of reason").
W a l l a c e Stevens, Letter to Barbara Church, September 2 9 , 1952 I believe in you m y soul, the other I am must not abase itself to you, A n d you must not be abased to the other. — W a l t W h i t m a n , "Song of M y s e l f " Can Wallace Stevens, poet, teach lawyers how to read and write better? Some law-and-literature proponents argue that law is essentially language, so that lawyers should be seen more as readers and writers than as social engineers, scientists, or philosophers. They thus become partisans in an old struggle, one that pitted the sophists against Plato, and the Roman rhetoricians against the jurisconsults—law as an art of persuasion, against law as a science of reason and analysis.
12 Further, the central theme of Stevens's poetry, what he called "my reality-imagination complex," 13 bears close kinship to the notion that reality is a social and linguistic construct—the notion that so dominates the law-and-literature attack on Locke's ideal of linguistic transparency. The scientific impulse to keep perception and computation of the real separate from mental play with the imaginary cannot be consistently carried through, the argument goes, because the basic conceptual and linguistic building blocks 39 Fat Cat, Ghostly Rabbit used in perception and computation originate in the collective social imagination; literal language largely consists of shared dead metaphor.
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