Saturday, November 12, 2011

Institution and the Individual Talent

In his plan for The Prose of the World, a book he never finished, Merleau-Ponty offers the following insight into the relationship between our poetry and our institutions.

When a writer is no longer capable of ... founding a new universality and of taking the risk of communicating, he has outlived his time. It seems to me that we can also say of other institutions that they have ceased to live when they show themselves incapable of carrying on a poetry of human relations— the call of each individual freedom to all the others.

Hegel said that the Roman state was the prose of the world.

Perhaps all that is needed in the way of comment on this is the allusion to T.S. Eliot's "Tradition and the Individual Talent" in my title. We should keep in mind also, however, that institutions are the "media of the immediacy" of power in our lives.

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