Turn on Slow Poetry: Cavell on Emerson

My thinking about writing for some time has received a great boost by reading Stanley Cavell’s Emerson’s Transcendental Etudes (Stanford, 2003). In it he accesses through Emerson what I think of as a realm of slow poetry, particularly by way of individual association “one person at a time”:

Emerson’s house of words is essentially less than a city, and while its word is not that of hope, its majesty is not to despair, but to let the “grandeur of justice shine” in it, and “affection cheer” it. Kant had asked, What can I hope for? Emerson in effect answers, for nothing. You do not know what there is hope for. “Patience—patience [suffering, reception]”; “abide on your instincts”—presumably because that is the way of thinking. For him who abides this way, “the huge world will come round to him”—presumably in the form in which it comes to Emerson, one person at a time, a world whose turning constitutes the world’s coming around—the form in which you come to your (further) self (167).