Lyric Monadologies

Daniel Tiffany

in Infidel Poetics

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print October 2009 | ISBN: 9780226803098
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226803111 | DOI:
Lyric Monadologies

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Starting from the premise that lyric obscurity shares certain expressive and ontological properties with other modes of obscurity, an examination of the rhapsodic paradigm in antiquity indicates that the jinx of obscurity in verse adheres not only to certain sociological conditions (homelessness, itinerancy, anonymity) but to various permutations of metaphysical substance associated with the concept of logos. This chapter explores how obscurity is applied as a philosophical concept to disclose the ontological foundation of lyric obscurity and to formulate a kind of grammar for the idioms and precincts of sociological obscurity. Leibniz's theory of monadic substance, because of its reliance on linguistic concepts and because of its impact on Romantic poetics and modern philosophy, offers an ideal platform for demonstrating the general significance of the interrelation of poetry and metaphysics. Further, just as the concept of obscurity tethers the disparate realms of poetic language, metaphysics, and social being, Leibniz's theory of symbolic expression, which presumes the condition of obscurity, serves as what he calls the “Ariadne thread” marking a path through the labyrinth of his philosophical interests: logic, metaphysics, physics, social theory. Furthermore, the “Monadology,” Leibniz's most concise exposition of his metaphysical theories, may, from the standpoint of its preoccupation with symbolic logic, be described as a treatise on enigmatology, insofar as its theory of substance rests on a model of “equivocal expression.”

Keywords: Leibniz; monadology; rhapsodic paradigm; metaphysical substance; logos; sociological obscurity; poetic obscurity; slang; lyric obscurity; obscurantism

Chapter.  17281 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (Poetry and Poets)

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