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Between present and past visible and invisible and sensation and idea there is resonance—so philosopher Maurice Merleau Ponty argued and so Jessica Wiskus explores in The Rhythm of Thought Holding the poetry of Stéphane Mallarmé the paintings of Paul Cézanne the prose of Marcel Proust and the music of Claude Debussy under Merleau Ponty’s phenomenological light she offers innovative interpretations of some of these artists’ masterworks in turn articulating a new perspective on Merleau Ponty’s philosophy More than merely recovering Merleau Ponty’s thought Wiskus thinks according to it First examining these artists in relation to noncoincidence—as silence in poetry depth in painting memory in literature and rhythm in music—she moves through an array of their artworks toward some of Merleau Ponty’s most exciting themes our bodily relationship to the world and the dynamic process of expression She closes with an examination of synesthesia as an intertwining of internal and external realms and a call finally for philosophical inuiry as a mode of artistic expression Structured like a piece of music itself The Rhythm of Thought offers new contexts in which to approach art philosophy and the resonance between them


10 thoughts on “The Rhythm of Thought

  1. says:

    Philosophy has long had an association with 'deep thought’ Only rarely however has thought of depth itself been taken up as a theme in its own regard To those of us lucky enough to stumble upon Jessica Wiskus’s new book however it’s precisely the fathoms of thought that are here plumbed in a manner eual to the grandeur long promised by philosophy Although taking the phenomenology of Maurice Merleau Ponty as its point of departure The Rhythm of Thought extends itself beyond mere exposition inventing its own plane of thought and bringing concepts to life though art literature and music in as vivid a manner as one could dare to hope for Through her encounters with the art of Cézanne the compositions of Debussy and the literary creations of Proust Wiskus shows how depth the depth of time as memory and promise the depth of space as voluminousness and movement plays an integral role in our being with the world Space no longer a flat expanse set out in front of us in geometric smoothness and time no longer a punctuated instant deprived of its own dimensionality are both here wrought in their ‘thickness’ and latency are given ‘flesh’ or rather rhythm Taking up Merleau Ponty’s rethinking of ‘essences’ as not merely idealisations that exist outside of space and time Wiskus shows exactly what it would mean to speak of a ‘carnal essence’ an essence as much sensate as ideal one ‘of’ the world and not ‘beyond it’ No doubt I’m being slightly elliptic here but precisely one of the strengths of Wiskus’s writing is the way in which it stages these abstractions in the context of brilliantly illuminated discussions of artistic practice Turning to Cézanne’s use of line and color Debussy’s invocations of silence and Prout’s repetition of literary motifs Wiskus makes concrete the often obscure and poetically roving ideas of Merleau Ponty Still as I said before this isn’t so much a book ‘about’ Merleau Ponty than it is a book conducted in the Merleau Pontyian key In the chapters on Debussy in particular Wiskus brings to bear her considerable technical musical knowledge in order to extend the very few scattered remarks that Merleau Ponty made on music in his lifetime uite simply as a work of creativity depth and clarity The Rhythm of Thought is a triumph of philosophical writing


  2. says:

    194 W8148 2015