Apparently a school of critics knocked Robert Frost because Frost did not consistently adhere to any specific, named ideology. I skipped literary criticism in college, but even I can tell that that is kind of his point. You can’t identify with any particular dogma without more or less declaring that every other school of thought is wrong. The argument must automatically be a priori since you cannot disprove every other system of thought unless you know everything about everything.
The only way to keep intellectual integrity, then, is to treat every systematic hypothesis with the same attitude of generous skepticism. Thus it’s hard to blame Frost for giving inconsistent answers when different people asked him which preconceptions he carries around. Maybe you find Bergsonian vitalism terribly compelling. You could read or experience something tomorrow that helps to see that it is kind of stupid. It’s hardly lying to give another interviewer a different answer some years later. It’s the only way to be intellectually honest! Below the flip I’ve reprinted one of his, The White Tailed Hornet, that I think illustrates my point.
Might as well link this to something relevant. Good on E.D. Kain for not bothering to defend whether he fits into one arbitrary category or another. What the hell does ‘conservative’ mean any more? Newt Gingrich just proposed that Congress federalize lower Manhattan so that Feds can get between a private group, its private property rights and its freedom of religion. Gingrich is conservative. Right? If thats not what Barry Goldwater would have done then I don’t know what is.
Not so thrilled that someone would still flirt with with voting ( R) when the party basically promised to do nothing but harm if they win enough seats, but, hell, John didn’t flip in a day either. Have patience and try logic.
Re-posted the missing last third of Frost’s poem.
THE WHITE-TAILED HORNET
The white-tailed hornet lives in a balloon
That floats against the ceiling of the woodshed.
The exit he comes out at like a bullet
Is like the pupil of a pointed gun.
And having power to change his aim in flight,
He comes out more unerring than a bullet.
Verse could be written on the certainty
With which he penetrates my best defense
Of whirling hands and arms about the head
To stab me in the sneeze-nerve of a nostril.
Such is the instinct of it I allow.
Yet how about the insect certainty
That in the neighborhood of home and children
!s such an execrable judge of motives
As not to recognize in me the exception
I like to think I am in everything
One who would never hang above a bookcase
His Japanese crepe-paper globe for trophy?
He stung me first and stung me afterward.
He rolled me off the field head over heels,
And would not listen to my explanations.
That’s when I went as visitor to his house.
As visitor at my house he is better.
Hawking for flies about the kitchen door,
In at one door perhaps and out another,
Trust him then not to put you in the wrong.
He won’t misunderstand your freest movements.
Let him light on your skin unless you mind
So many prickly grappling feet at once.
He’s after the domesticated fly
To feed his thumping grubs as big as he is.
Here he is at his best, but even here-
I watched him where he swooped, he pounced, he
But what he found he had was just a nailhead.
He struck a second time. Another nailhead.
‘Those are just nailheads. Those are fastened down/
Then disconcerted and not unannoyed,
He stooped and struck a little huckleberry
The way a player curls around a football.
‘Wrong shape, wrong color, and wrong scent/ 1 said.
The huckleberry rolled him on his head.
At last it was a fly. He shot and missed;
And the fly circled round him in derision.
But for the fly he might have made me think
He had been at his poetry, comparing
Nailhead with fly and fly with huckleberry:
How like a fly, how very like a fly.
But the real fly he missed would never do;
The missed fly made me dangerously skeptic.
Won’t this whole instinct matter bear revision?
Won’t almost any theory bear revision?
To err is human, not to, animal.
Or so we pay the compliment to instinct,
Only too liberal of our compliment
That really takes away instead of gives.
Our worship, humor, conscientiousness
Went long since to the dogs under the table.
And served us right for having instituted
Downward comparisons. As long on earth
As our comparisons were stoutly upward
With gods and angels, we were men at least,
But little lower than the gods and angels.
But once comparisons were yielded downward,
Once we began to see our images
Reflected in the mud and even dust,
‘Twas disillusion upon disillusion.
We were lost piecemeal to the animals,
Like people thrown out to delay the wolves.
Nothing but fallibility was left us,
And this day ‘ s work made even that seem doubtful.