In recent discussions of structure, a controversy has been whether structure is an appropriate tool to measure how much knowledge is disseminated. On one hand, Shelagh Neely argues that “Structure reminds me of a foundation. A foundation that you start off with and work your way up the ladder of writing a paper, a poem, a book, or even a blog post.” From this perspective, set forms, such as the abecedarian, are solid foundations which allow for knowledge to be transmitted clearly. On the other hand, however, others argue that it is impossible for knowledge to be organized in a manner that expresses information coherently. In the words of H. P. Lovecraft, one of this view’s main proponents, “[t]he most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents” (1). According to this view, structure is inadequate because humans are fallible, and cannot connect information enough to discover Truth. In sum, then, the issue is whether we can trust that creative and informational works are created upon a trustworthy foundation, or if the limits of human knowledge are the true “walls” (Neely) that subjectively define our truths.My own view is that knowledge is continuously discovered, and that rigid structures are more reflections of our own biases rather than of Truth. This is not to say that structures are unnecessary: although we often communicate incorrect information, we still require structures in order to learn, communicate effectively, and function. Although we are not objectively correct, communication is still useful for survival, and for discussing abstract ideas, even if there might never be an absolute conclusion. However, when we acknowledge what we do not know, the gaps in our knowledge gape.
Regardless of how books such as re:(f) gesture are structured, regardless of whether they are organized by categories such as Logic, Body, and Zulus, each component contains exceptions that call attention to the failure of rigid structure. These fields cannot be divided so neatly. According to Joe Moran, “although [science] might claim to be confined within the limiting framework of a discipline, it is always part of other narratives and knowledges,” suggesting a greater objectivity through interdisciplinarity. For example, despite being named “Body” and using scientific names of body parts, the metaphorical language used connects Body to literature and the subjective. Is it possible to objectively describe the body when the names of body parts are in Latin, and therefore sometimes based on disproven Roman theories and inaccurate metaphorical explanations about the body? For example “Tunica Vaginalis,” a body part with a poem devoted to it in Body (Everett 59), means “coat of the sheath” according to my Latin skills, which are rudimentary, but more trustworthy than Google Translate. Within the poem, the narrator’s penis is referred to as his “cord.” The scientific term “vagina,” which means “a sheath,” was not created neutrally. Instead, it is used because of the misogynistic dichotomy of “male” as the sex with external genitalia, which is supposedly made to penetrate the void that is female genitalia like a sword would its scabbard. However, both males and females have external genitalia (links have images attached). However, these problems cannot neatly be solved with interdisciplinarity, as Moran continues on to establish. Moran critiques scientists who “retain a faith in the possibility of ultimate explanation, a ‘theory of everything’ which will unite the different fields of knowledge,” (Moran 177), stating that “The danger [in culture being reduced to science] is that culturally and historically specific practices can be reduced to biology, and come to seem natural and inevitable as a consequence” (Moran 181). Ultimately, it seems that whether or not we study in an interdisciplinary manner, biases in will remain in our knowledge.
What remains is frenzy.
Logic can go against rationality and common sense, and is therefore, like the sciences and humanities, not an appropriate foundation onto which one can build an understanding of the total human experience. For example, the argument that “the sun will rise tomorrow because it rose yesterday” would be an invalid argument on the basis of it being a hasty generalization, according to Introduction to Logic (Edgar, Edgar, Daly 21). Everett asserts that in the absence of stable Logic, (Everett subverts Logic’s ability to stand without science or the humanities by using Aristotle’s valid, yet unsound, theory of Spontaneous Generation in Logic), passion is what remains, and what makes human works biased. Toward the beginning of Frenzy, “Mount Cithaeron stood where it had always stood…[t]he mountain’s slopes were…wet and matted with life. Fog hung like webs in the tops of its trees and in the creases of its canyons, from which issued the rumbling of women’s voices in laughter and song” (Everett 2). Mount Cithaeron is named after King Kithairon, who helped Zeus to reconcile with Hera, his jealous wife. The association with Zeus and Hera’s dynamic, and the depiction of the mountain as “[standing] where it had always stood” evokes a sense of the undying dynamics between (most of) the gods, which creates an association between the natural setting and divine influences. Mount Cithaeron is used to represent Bakkhic liberation and unfettered passion throughout the novel, such as when Kadmos tells his guard to look outside and see that the mountain is visible instead than the women who are supposed to be within the walls of the civilized city (Everett 124). The portrayal of the mountain therefore conflates this verdant setting with the divine and chaotic, mirroring the Romantic idea of the sublime. “Romanticism can be seen as a rejection of the precepts of order, calm, harmony, balance, idealization, and rationality” (Britannica). The notion of the sublime is an extension of these principles–it is “something that takes us beyond ourselves (Hirsch), experience beyond the realm of mortal comprehension. There is no rational response to the gods, only a visceral response to their power in the natural world, and by extension, the inexplicable sublime qualities of what is within the human mind. Dionysus “makes men mad and gives them the gift of prophecy” (Euripides 135), exerting his influence over mortals as he could vines and causing them to become “beyond [themselves]” (Hirsh) as an effect of their altered perception. The gods do not care about mortal structure and order, and so they drive people to the place beyond human constructs, “to the mountain!” (Euripides 131). Frenzy can therefore be viewed as an exploration of the awe and terror of the sublime, and the human response to an arbitrary universe full of fickle and eternal gods.
In my first blog post, I stated that “I have felt pressured to only present the most academic, and therefore the most accepted, version of my writing.” Although I have continued to write academically, I hope that in questioning myself and the academic fields I once took for granted, I have gone beyond myself. I don’t know what to believe, if what’s real is what I see in this faint computer light, but I have developed an appreciation for the ambiguous and unknown, especially when it is released from the inside oneself. For now, I must say: goodnight.