Aesthetics for Birds

Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art for Everyone

Joshua M. Hall on “Keeping Things Whole”



This is entry #58 in our 100 Philosophers, 100 Artworks, 100 Words Series.

Philosopher: Joshua M. Hall, CUNY, Queenesborough

Artwork: Mark Strand, “Keeping Things Whole,” 1964, poem

Words: This is one of the first poems that taught me that a poem can have the compressed power of an entire philosophical treatise—and that dedicating one’s life to poetry and to philosophy could thus be a single dedication.  The speaker’s main point here suggests Beauvoir’s claim, in The Ethics of Ambiguity, that to be free and to let the rest of the world shine are the same movement.  If absence can beautify, and everyday movement can save, then there will always be much left for us to hope, and much to love in the generous wake of Strand’s absence.

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