Coleridge: the play outside the play

Got up from office chair, went around edge of couch, and sat in the sofa chair, my path describing a U. I picked up Coleridge, opened Coleridge, bent my head toward Coleridge. Sometimes I would notice my head rising from it and becoming unbent, but I would compel my head to be bent toward it again, toward Coleridge.

But when, in time, it became unbent again I would think of “my position” and as I saw it “my position” was that I was in “the play outside the play” and could see no way out of it: the play outside the play you could perhaps call Overthinking, or you could call it Being in Outer Space. You could call it not having the defined character of a person within a play while not having the omniscient perspective of a person watching it. You could call it having courage for somebody else but not yourself. Imagine desperately needing to do something on Earth only to suddenly realize you were not even on earth but were an astronaut in outerspace. I had half a mind to throw Coleridge down, leap from the chair, charge out the apartment, and “do all I really had to do”, really “start cracking heads”, really “upset the applecart” by for instance getting a haircut — but I knew that by the time I’d made it to sidewalk out front I would be feeling either like an actor who’d forgotten his lines, or like one that was only too carefully following the script — the script of The Play Outside The Play — and so I bent the neck again, to Coleridge, then rose and described the U from the reading chair to the computer chair, where perhaps some detail of Coleridge’s biography could profitably be looked up.


Coleridge: could I write with the masterful articulation of an adult but with the purity of observation of the child? [No.] Coleridge: and had I managed to perfectly wed my Thought with my Feeling? [No.] And was the scene I described impregnated with a certain humanely imaginative coherence? Did it seem, in other words, that beyond the mere words there was aureated a kind of sublime charm or virtue? [No.] And had the poet, most importantly, managed to limn and illumine and underscore common truths and realities, separating them out from common falsehoods and obscurities, and proving thereby, with a magical touch, the persistence of beauty within the everyday? [no, Coleridge, no — not.]

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