Objective non-correlative

Washington Allston coined the phrase ■→objective correlative in his ■→Lectures on Art. His painter’s brush for the primary tool, he looked to a vegetable and judged on human emotion. He wrote,

Take an example from one of the lower forms of organic life,—a common vegetable. Will any one assert that the surrounding inorganic elements of air, earth, heat, and water produce its peculiar form? Though some, or all, of these may be essential to its development, they are so only as its predetermined correlatives, without which its existence could not be manifested; and in like manner must the peculiar form of the vegetable preexist in its life, —in its idea,—in order to evolve by these assimilants its own proper organism.

No possible modification in the degrees or proportion of these elements can change the specific form of a plant,―for instance, a cabbage into a cauliflower; it must ever remain a cabbage, small or large, good or bad. So, too, is the external world to the mind; which needs, also, as the condition of its manifestation, its objective correlative. Hence the presence of some outward object, predetermined to correspond to the preexisting idea in its living power, is essential to the evolution of its proper end,―the pleasurable emotion.


There have come to exist theories and even some practice, on vegetables and light: veg may become sweeter under red or blue auras of choice ― but the cost of the enlightenment might hatchet such production. Those who harbor feelings particularly vindictive about music, purport that tune playing elevates plant mood before it is eaten ― Mr. Allston would yet seek veg relevance to human emotionality also except meal times.

Plants are not irrelevant to human feelings, even if we do not eat them. Not only flowers, trees too, can be source of aesthetic pleasure.

The fine art of painting was visibly in favor of Paul Cezanne; Wikimedia Commons have ■→more examples of his “outward objects for pleasurable emotion”.

■→T.S. Eliot proceeded with making the jacket for the potato. In ■→Hamlet and His Problems, Eliot stated,
Hamlet is a stratification, (…) it represents the efforts of a series of men, each making what he could out of the work of his predecessors. The Hamlet of Shakespeare will appear to us very differently if, instead of treating the whole action of the play as due to Shakespeare’s design, we perceive his Hamlet to be superposed upon much cruder material which persists even in the final form.

Eliot added,
The only way of expressing emotion in the form of art is by finding an “objective correlative”; in other words, a set of objects, a situation, a chain of events which shall be the formula of that particular emotion; such that when the external facts, which must terminate in sensory experience, are given, the emotion is immediately evoked.

In his critical endeavors, Eliot referred to the ■→thing theory and ■→pathetic fallacy. The frameworks involve linguistic agent-patient relations, and I believe Eliot was expressive of his ■→abulia more than of life: evoked immediacy can be doubted, about any true and pleasurable feeling.

The thing theory presumes “thingness” about all objects: We begin to confront the thingness of objects when they stop working for us, wrote  ■→Bill Brown. And anything stops working for one, in the end:
As they circulate through our lives, we look through objects (to see what they disclose about history, society, nature, or culture — above all, what they disclose about us), but we only catch a glimpse of things [1]: the user becomes the linguistic patient of own failed expectation to see oneself in the matter of the world.

Outside the Thing theory, an object of thought as focus of human attention can be animate; it can have no particular usage or working order. A cat can be an object of thought. A person can be an object of thought. They might have nothing to do with us, and be objects of thought — for a moment, a while as well. There is no agent-patient relation: thinking is not doing anything to the object of thought, as well as anything about it.

The pathetic fallacy is a cry about a tool misconceived. I do not think any writer ever truly believed clouds or trees actually felt, and Ruskin’s original phrase reportedly was “emotional falseness”, as for influence by strong emotion on the person who perceives. The role would be that of the linguistic patient again, whereas it must have been, the clouds were smiling on Mr. Ruskin and nobody told him.

Washington Allston had reasons to be unhappy. His wife died leaving him saddened, lonely, and homesick for America[8], and all the correlative thing looks to be a reflection on sense and permanence. Resort to language might be a good idea; it has enough of both to last a lifetime and longer, allowing play and humor as well. It is only important to avoid projection — of that thing from outside language — on the objectively matter of speech and mind. Feel welcome to compare ■→a correlative for Emily Dickinson and Aristotle (you can tell everyone).

■→This text is also available in Polish.

Notes for Emily Dickinson’s poetry

Fascicles and print, the poetic correlative with Webster 1828, Latin and Greek inspiration, an Aristotelian motif, Things perpetual — these are not in time, but in eternity. More

Poems
Life | Love | Nature | Time and Eternity


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The world may never have seen her original handwriting, if her skill was taken for supernatural. Feel welcome to Poems by Emily Dickinson prepared for print by Teresa Pelka: thematic stanzas, notes on the Greek and Latin inspiration, the correlative with Webster 1828, and the Aristotelian motif, Things perpetual — these are not in time, but in eternity.

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Świat może i nigdy nie widział jej oryginalnego pisma, jeśli jej umiejętność została wzięta za nadnaturalną. Zapraszam do Wierszy Emilii Dickinson w przekładzie Teresy Pelka: zwrotka tematyczna, notki o inspiracji greką i łaciną, korelacie z Websterem 1828 oraz wątku arystotelesowskim, Rzecz perpetualna — ta nie zasadza się na czasie, ale na wieczności.

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