Chiasmi International

Volume 21, 2019

Merleau-Ponty, Literature, and Literary Language

Glen A. Mazis
Pages 167-185

Merleau-Ponty’s and Paul Claudel’s Overlapping Expression of Poetic Ontology

Merleau-Ponty characterizes the poetic or literary use of language as bringing forth of sense as if it is a being that is an interlocutor with its readers. Sense will be explored as interwoven with a deeper imagination that works within the temporality of institution to become more fully manifest. Throughout the essay will be seen the overlap with Claudel’s ontology as expressed in L’Art poetique and Claudel’s approach to language. Why Merleau-Ponty’s articulation of embodiment and perception must culminate in the poetic expression of the flesh ontology will be seen in: 1) how the phenomenology of sense leads to the flesh ontology as closely tied to the literary dimension of language (resonating with Claudel’s L’Art poetique), 2) that the analysis of sense leads to the vital importance of the physiognomic or vertical imagination as opening the latent depths of perception by its expression within poetic language, and also tracing the link between metaphor and the flesh ontology, and that 3) the expression of the latent sense of perception as the interplay of lateral relations as access to Being is the reversibility of the flesh, also articulated by Claudel as co-naissance, and calls for an “interrogative knowing,” a “question-savior.” The articulation of the texture of Being is an overlapping endeavor with Claudel as the poetic articulation of a stream of sense below our reflective life.

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