By Jameson S. Workman
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Additional resources for Chaucer and the Death of the Political Animal
75 In a Platonic conception of literature, poetry is the activity that releases language from literal referentiality in pursuit of a new anamnestic 16 C H AUC E R A N D T H E DE AT H OF P OL I T IC A L A N I M A L symbolism. The self-conscious metapoetry of the passage is part of the bloodline of Plato’s wider philosophy. It is the beginning of a literary tradition to which Chaucer later lends his considerable talents. F. Ferrari writes that Socrates’s “philosophic art . . ” 76 The Phaedrus is a mythographic reformer.
In that sense, it’s as bleak and homicidal as spinning plates as a party trick but as hectic and stupid as spinning Salome’s plates as a party trick for Herod, whom, it just so happens, Absolon impersonates as part of his titillating arsenal (3384). V. A. ”58 At this precise point in the Miller’s Tale, the defunct laws of some once-great culture are sucking the healthy air out. The old carpenter says it better: “This world is now ful tikel, sikerly” (3428). ”62 Eternity keeps watch, antagonizing the mortal sphere, marbling it with immortality.
If the entomological cicada carries the common sense telos of regeneration, the Aetia aims at something more resounding. What it aims at is this: the figure of the cicada is a double tradition, like Venus. In the Homeric Hymn, Eos locks away a shriveled Tithonus. He becomes a prisoner in his own house, quarantined to the former site of naturalism’s victory in the arts. Such is the nature of poetic failure and the experimental depiction of divine failure, both things perfected in Chaucer’s poetry.