“Was not their mistake once more bred of the life of slavery that they had been living?—a life which was always looking upon everything, except mankind, animate and inanimate—‘nature,’ as people used to call it—as one thing, and mankind as another, it was natural to people thinking in this way, that they should try to make ‘nature’ their slave, since they thought ‘nature’ was something outside them” — William Morris

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Shelley's Queen Mab Notes as Hypertext

I can't believe what I'm reading: exoplanets, Spinozan monism, the speed of light, Lucretius. It's all here! In a poem written in 1811 to 1813! You should seriously take a look. I was asked to contribute an essay on Percy Shelley's notes to his radical poem Queen Mab for volume 2 of The Unfamiliar Shelley. I must say that it's a refreshing change of pace to get back into literary analysis. And what literature—this is materialist philosophy at its most beautiful. Shelley is a hardcore Spinozan immanentist and all my intuitions about using Deleuze to analyze him are proving correct. The Spinoza and Shelley story remains to be told actually.

The notes are a kind of hypertext, forcing you to work back and forth (with thumbs rather than tabs) and transcend the poem as compelling and hypnotic object. Shelley wants you to think.

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