Volume 45, Issue 1, February 2019
Indwelling and Breaking Out
Language and Literature in Post-critical Perspective
This essay explores how literature may be a way of educating readers in practice about the way tacit knowing works, and literary study may have an unexpected contribution to make to the larger field of post-critical thinking. I argue that literary metaphor is a manifestation of the tacit dimension of knowing and, by engaging with the dynamics of language in the text, the reader may allow himself to be educated in the workings of tacit knowing and its underlying rules. A simple image in a poem will call upon the creative imagination of the reader to search for meaning in the indeterminate referent. It will also call upon intuition to connect the dots between vehicle and tenor in metaphor, and form links with the life-world of the reader. When the reader of a literary text gets a sense of a “deepening coherence” of understanding, and intuition connects his life to the tacit dimension of language in the tenor of metaphor, the result may be discovery of some new sense of order or existential meaning.