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Venturing upon Dizzy Heights

Lectures and Essays on Philosophy, Literature, and the Arts

Bruce Ross

This book assembles lectures and essays on literature (William Wordsworth, Walter Benjamin, Chinese mountain poetry, Friedrich Nietzsche, the Tao Te Ching), art (Paleolithic cave art, Vincent Van Gogh, American landscape painting), and Japanese poetry forms (haiku, haibun, tanka) that were originally presented and published between 2000 and 2007. The essays identify strategies to counter the so-called postmodern condition. Matters of will, ethics, and consciousness are examined in comparative contexts with the aim of formulizing models of enlightened states of being and their aesthetic expressions. This study focuses on Wordsworth’s rainbow epiphany; Walter Benjamin’s «aura» and «monad»; Chinese mountain poetry’s cosmic emptiness; Nietzsche’s Hyperborean; Paleolithic cave art’s transpersonal expression; Van Gogh’s «dizzy heights» of natural beauty; American landscape painters’ depiction of the sublime; haiku’s absolute metaphor epiphany; and tanka’s connection between natural beauty and erotic feeling. The collection is a re-examination of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s «fundamental unity» between humanity and nature, as well as an examination of often-unmediated affective experience and its expression in this context through literature and art.