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Expressed silence: a study of the metaphorics of word in selected nineteenth-century American texts Werder, Carmen Marie 1994

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EXPRESSED SILENCE:A STUDY OF THE METAPHORICS OF WORDIN SELECTED NINETEENTH-CENTURY AMERICAN TEXTSbyCARMEN MARIE WERDERB.A., Western Washington University, 1968M.A., Western Washington University, 1986A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OFTHE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OFDOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHYinTHE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES(Department of English)We accept this thesis as conformingto the required standardTHE UNIVERSITY OF BITISH COLUMBIAApril 1994cCarmen Marie Werder, 1994In presenting this thesis in partial fulfilment of the requirements for an advanceddegree at the University of British Columbia, I agree that the Library shall make itfreely available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensivecopying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the head of mydepartment or by his or her representatives. It is understood that copying orpublication of this thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without my writtenpermission.(Signature)Department of Engi ishThe University of British ColumbiaVancouver, CanadaDate 20 April 1994DE-6 (2188)11ABSTRACTExpressed Silence: A Study of the Metaphorics of Wordin Selected Nineteenth-Century American TextsThis dissertation explores the patterned use of certain“metaphors of word”——images of reading, writing, listening, andspeaking——in four American texts: Emerson’s Nature, Thoreau’sWalden, Hawthorne’s Scarlet Letter, and Melville’s Moby Dick.Assumed in my discussion is the modern view of metaphor as acognitive device used, not for mere stylistic ornament, but forcreating a certain mental perspective. Based on theperspectival view and on the experiential—gestalt account ofmetaphor, the structures of these metaphors of word are examinedin order to discern the systematic nature of their argument andto determine the cultural and historical reasons why languageimagery, and not some other type of imagery, was chosen torepresent this argument. After surveying the culturalinfluences of democracy, mercantilism, Romanticism, andCalvinism, I characterize the metaphoric systems of each textand then move on to a closer study of the role of silence withinthese systems.From this analysis, I conclude that these nineteenth—century texts reflect a shift away from the book toward thevoice as a predominant symbol, and away from writing towardspeaking as a privileged metaphor. Language imagery works torepresent ways of knowing, so that linguistic and epistemicconcerns become inextricably intertwined. The process of usingiiilanguage operates as a metaphor for the process of gainingknowledge. In this metaphorics of word, silence emerges as aparticularly striking metaphor in the way that it expresses thecoalescence of being and knowing, the realization that we knowwhat we know. In this scheme, metaphors of word structure waysof understanding, and the expressed silence metaphor highlightsthe way interior speech can function in the discernment ofknowledge. Ultimately, I contend that the perspective providedby this nineteenth—century metaphorics of word forecasts themodern view of rhetoric as epistemic. By employing linguisticaction as a figure for representing epistemic action, ametaphorics of word promotes an understanding of rhetoric’sprimary purpose as the interrogation of truth.ivTABLE OF CONTENTSAbstract iiTable of Contents ivAcknowledgments viChapter One An Introduction to a Metaphorics of WordThe ‘Cognitive Force’ of Metaphor 1A Metaphorics of Word 2A Rhetorical Basis 5Metaphor and Symbol 6Linguistic and Epistemic Action 12Method of Analysis 17Chapter Two From a Culture of the Book to a Cultureof the VoiceCultural Spheres of Influence 29The Influence of Democracy 32The Influence of Mercantilism 36The Influence of Romanticism 39The Influence of Calvinism 45Calvinism, Christianity, and the Voice 50The Voice as Literary Symbol 56Chapter Three The Voice of the Translator in Natureand WaldenCommon Concerns 60On ‘American Hieroglyphics’ 67Nature and the ‘God Within’ 69Walden and the ‘Private Au’ 83Translation and the Dilemma ofExpressed Language 93Chapter Four ‘The Tongue of Flame’ in the Scarlet LetterA Human Rubric 98Metaphors of Word in Action 102The Voice for the Person 104The Human Text and the Voice of‘Suffering Humanity’ 113The ‘Tongue of Flame’ and theInadequacy of Language 125VChapter Five Voices in Negation in Moby DickAn Epistemic Log 130The Tower of Babel and the Pyramid 136‘Explain Myself I Must’ 137‘Half-articulated Wailings’ andTruthful Gibberish 143Character as Linguistic—EpistemicPhilosophy 146Profound and Intertextual Silence 156‘Pyramidical Silence’ and theInadequacy of Language 160Chapter Six The Literacy of SilenceExpressed Silence 165The ‘Semantics of Silence’ 169Expressed Silence and a Private Logos 201A Metaphorics of Word as Prophetic 203Bibliography 207viAcknowledgmentsFirst of all, I am grateful to the University of BritishColumbia for the fellowship that aided in the completion of thisdissertation.I appreciate all the people who have assisted in thedevelopment of this study, especially the following colleaguesand mentors. I thank Father Steven Rowan from SeattleUniversity for our conversations about how a culture of the bookbecame a culture of the voice. Several people from WesternWashington University deserve my gratitude as well: RobertaBuck, for generous and expeditious delivery of my drafts;Kathleen Lundeen for enlightening references to silence inBritish Romantic texts; Lynne Masland, for the clarifyingdiscussions about my texts; and Barbara Sylvester, for hergenerous intellectual and emotional support over many years.The faculty on my supervising committee have been importantinfluences on my work throughout its stages. I thank Judy Segalfor her stimulating and pointed questions about the rhetoricalnature of my study. I appreciate Grosvenor Powell for hisexpert and pertinent comments about literary history andAmerican literature. And I owe a special debt to Maya Jo Powellfor her inspiring seminar on linguistic theories of metaphorwhich launched this dissertation and for her judicious guidanceevery step of the way. Her scholarly and humane direction of mywork has been a blessing, and I am deeply grateful.I am also thankful to my friends and family, especially tothose who have seen me through the last two years: my dearfriend, Peggy Bridgman, for her unconditional support; myparents, Frank and Corinne Werder and Marie Woodward, for theirconstant encouragement; my sons Joseph and Fritz, and daughterMelissa, for their continuing interest in my ideas.Most of all, I acknowledge my husband, Richard, whoseinsight, creativity, and affection have sustained not only thisdissertation, but all my work.1CHAPTER 3.AN INTRODUCTION TO A METAPHORICS OF WORDThe ‘Cognitive Force’ of Metaphor“Man’s reach must exceed his grasp or what’s a metaphor?”This query-answer by Marshall McLuhan playfully suggests that ametaphor provides for some kind of mental stretching and servesto extend our usual human capacity in some way. Althoughscholars in earlier centuries stressed the stylistic anddecorative aspects of metaphor, many twentieth—century theoriesemphasize that metaphoric extension has serious cognitiveimport.1 Many of these latter theorists would answer McLuhan bysaying, “Metaphor is for the discovery of truth.” Instead ofmere ornament, metaphor is now primarily studied for what EvaKittay (1987) has called its “cognitive force.”2This modern view of metaphor as a cognitive mechanism restson the work of such diverse thinkers as Samuel Taylor Coleridge(1817) who portrayed metaphor as the linguistic means by whichthoughts are unified (qtd. in Kittay 6), Friedrich Nietzsche(1911) who argued for metaphor as a thought process by which wemake sense of reality,3 l.A. Richards (1936) who said that wethink by means of metaphors,4 and Kenneth Burke (1941) whodescribed metaphor as one of the four “master tropes” which havea “role in the discovery and description of ‘the truth’.”5 More2recently, George Lakoff and Mark Johnson (1980) have affirmedthis relationship between metaphor and thought by examining the“metaphors we live by,” contending that “metaphor is not just amatter of language. . . . On the contrary, human thoughtprocesses are largely metaphorical” (emphasis added) 6 Thismodern view identifies using metaphor with thinking and insiststhat metaphor should be examined “not for its affective andrhetorical efficacy, but for its cognitive contribution”(Kittay 2).Therefore, this study of literary metaphor seeks to discernthe cognitive legacy of certain texts by examining theirmetaphors. The perspectival view of metaphor, as developed bytheorists such as l.A. Richards and Max Black and formalized byKittay, is helpful in determining the cognitive contributions ofthese texts. By describing metaphor as a way of creating acertain “perspective,” these theorists have proposed that it isthis resulting perspective which has a cognitive influence. Toexplore these perspectives for recurring patterns is to explorepatterns of thought. By examining writers’ metaphorical habits,then, we can learn about their habits of mind.A Metaphorics of WordBased on this crucial view of metaphor as a cognitivedevice, this study focuses on the metaphorics of Americanliterature in the nineteenth century. I use “metaphorics” tomean the study of certain metaphorical patterns which recurwithin a text as well as across a body of literature and a3certain time period. With this approach, I follow the work ofE.R. Curtius who examined the metaphorics of European literaturein the Latin Middle Ages, identifying five recurring imageryclusters: nautical, personal, alimentary, corporal, andtheatrical. More to the point of my investigation, he tracesvarious writing metaphors and presents an overview of how thebook served as a symbol in the literature.7 While Curtius wasconcerned with cataloguing metaphors as part of his largerattempt to show how the devices of classical rhetoric (bothtopoi and tropes) served to unify the literature in terms ofliterary method, I am primarily interested in investigating themetaphorics of nineteenth—century American literature to see howthe patterned use of language imagery served to unify theliterature in terms of a common theme. Whereas an intuitivereading of selected texts written in this time period suggeststhat these American writers used similar images and sharedcommon cognitive pursuits, inetaphorics ensures a more systematicand formal study of this relationship.The focus here will be on “metaphors of word,” that is,images involving reading, writing, listening, and speaking.Taken together, these metaphors of word construct languageitself as the domain from which to view and understand otherdomains. I will trace the use of these language metaphors infour American texts: Emerson’s Nature (1836), Thoreau’s Walden(1854), Hawthorne’s Scarlet Letter (1850), and Melville’s MobyDick (1851). These texts were selected not only because they4are representative of a particularly important literary period,but also because the writers of these works profess a commonview of language, make it a constant subject of their writing,and use it as a way of understanding the world. In discussingthese works, I will represent some of the basic impulses of thetraditionally defined canon of nineteenth—century Americanliterature and intimate how these inclinations were culturallydefined. Specifically, I want to emphasize that at the sametime as the writers of this century express frustration with thelimits of language, their writing reveals an acknowledgement ofits value and of its primacy in their lives. While the Americanwriters of the eighteenth century tended to generate publicmanifestos, defining the spirit and struggles of a young countrysearching for independence, the writers of the nineteeth centuryturned increasingly to matters of the individual. Their textsshow how much they valued language for the way it could giveexpression to one person’s search for inner truth within anation of searchers. In short, they demonstrate a tendency torely on language, above everything else, for their individualquests.In his study of style in American literature (1966),Richard Poirier states that for many American writers (includingthe four under study here), language represented a site ofliberation: “American books are often written as if historicalforces cannot possibly provide such an environment, as ifhistory can give no life to ‘freedom’, and as if only language5can create the liberated place” (emphasis added) •8 It is jthis liberating spirit that these American writers use languagemetaphors——metaphors of word——to create a space for themselves:as individuals within a maturing democratic nation, as craftsmenwithin an expanding market economy, as writers within anevolving Romantic tradition, and as spiritualists within anincreasingly secularized Calvinistic theology.A Rhetorical BasisWhile this study of metaphors of word draws onunderstandings from literary history, criticism, andlinguistics, it is fundamentally a rhetorical analysis, in whichattention is directed to the effects of the figurative languageemployed in the texts, with the discussion phrased more in termsof the traditional canon of invention than of style. In otherwords, instead of examining the patterned use of certain figuresfor the way that they contribute to an overall literary voice,metaphorical patterns will be studied as recurring ideas. Thesemeans will facilitate a focus upon the systematic meaning(s),rather than upon the aesthetic appeal, of these figures.Relying on Kenneth Burke’s expanded definition of persuasion toinclude works of literature,9 I want to discern the “lines ofargument” provided in the language metaphors of these literarytexts. Sonja Foss has described the basis for this kind ofrhetorical venture: “metaphor serves an argumentative functionin a very basic way; metaphor constitutes argument. Metaphordoes not simply provide support to an argument; the structure of6the metaphor itself argues.’”° My aim is to discover thestructure of these metaphors of word in order to determine thesystematic structure of their arguments and to explore theculturally- and historically-specific reasons why languageimagery, and not some other type of imagery, was chosen torepresent these arguments.In classical rhetorical terms, these texts can be viewed asepideictic” in the way that they both censure language for itsinability to access some truths, and also celebrate the processof language as a metaphor for knowing. In modern rhetoricalterms, these texts demonstrate how rhetoric is epistemic, howthe arguments presented in their metaphors of word create a newunderstanding of the relationship between language andthought.’2 This epistemic perspective, as acknowledged byRobert L. Scott in 1967, presupposes the understanding, as Fosset al. have put it, “that all knowledge-creating enterpriseshave rhetorical aspects.”3 Grounded in this modernunderstanding of rhetoric, this study is also rhetorical simplybecause of its central concern with figures of speech.Metaphor and SymbolNorman Friedman’s “Theory of Symbolism” (1975) is helpfulhere in the way that it proposes three general approaches toimagery: (1) mental, where the focus is on what happens in thereader’s mind; (2) rhetorical, where the concern is with thefigures of speech in the language itself; and (3) symbolic,where the attention is drawn to the meaning and significance of7these images.’4 While these three labels point to contrastingconcerns, they are not mutually exclusive since figurativelanguage simply does not operate on such discrete levels. Inother words, what happens in the reader’s mind is a function ofthe language itself and of the significance of the imagery used,both within the text and in the larger context of the culture.As both Curtius and Friedman have observed, an examination ofrecurring metaphor inevitably involves an examination of symbol,which inevitably involves a discussion of prevailing culturalvalues. The challenge here is to provide for some distinctionbetween metaphor and symbol within a larger discussion ofnineteenth—century ideas and culture.From the Greek word meaning “a turn,” a trope intraditional rhetoric refers to a rhetorical device which createsa shift in the meaning of words. A metaphor is considered onekind of trope by which language is used with a “turn” orextension of its literal meaning. Important tp note is thatthe turn involves an extension of meaning and not simply atransference of one word for another. Furthermore, in thecontemporary view, neither the word nor the sentence isconsidered an adequate linguistic unit of metaphor, in that ananalysis of metaphorical meaning often requires examining thelarger linguistic! extralinguistic context. As Kittay states,“a unit of metaphor is any unit of discourse in which someconceptual or conversational incongruity emerges” (24); thus,metaphorical meaning is a function of the immediate linguistic!8extralinguistic context, but can emerge from a unit larger thanthe word or sentence.In contrast to metaphor, a symbol has been taken to besomething which means itself and something beyond itself. Inhis discussion of the “symbolic mode,” Angus Fletcher reminds usthat a symbol may or may not be a matter of explicit expression,but that a metaphor always involves some explicit term.15 Inthis tradition, Coleridge made a distinction between allegoryand symbol by noting that with the symbol, “it is very possiblethat the general truth may be unconsciously in the writer’s mindduring the construction of the symbol,” (qtd. in Fletcher 17)while with the allegory (and by analogy, the metaphor), thecorrespondence is always consciously made by the writer.16Since the associations behind a symbol may be unconscious, theideas being linked are not always given or understood in aspecific context. For example, a cross——the icon by itself——isa symbol of Christianity, whether a word or expressionaccompanies it or not because the associations between the crossand Christianity have been established over time. In contrastwith symbolism, since metaphorical meaning is a function ofliteral meaning, a metaphor always requires some explicitlinguistic expression. While one of the paired terms of ametaphor may be implied, there is always some trace of themetaphorical transfer evident in the immediate linguisticcontext.A way of describing this distinction between metaphor and9symbol is to acknowledge that the metaphor relies more on theimmediate context for its meaning, while the symbol draws moreon associations already established in a larger context bothwithin the text and outside the text. As Friedman puts it,“Thus it can be said that a recurring metaphor is symbolic,because repetition establishes larger relationships, and that asymbol is an expanded metaphor” (291). Because symbolicmeaning accrues, then, Friedman calls it the most complex levelof figurative meaning and the most difficult kind of meaning totrace. Also, since metaphorical and symbolic levels canoverlap, a specific linguistic item can involve bothmetaphorical and symbolic meanings.The crucial point is that an image can acquire symbolicmeaning only by some kind of repeated use: in the real world ofa culture/within the literary world of a specific text. Forexample, the white whale in Moby Dick and the red “A” in TheScarlet Letter acquire powerful symbolic meaning because oftheir use in the literature, both by repeated literal use and byrecurring metaphorical use. In contrast, the voice exists as apowerful symbol in both of these texts because of its use notonly in the literature, both literally and figuratively, butalso because of its role in the American culture of thenineteenth century. In Burkean terms, voicing as “symbolicaction,” is the object of this study because the concern is withboth the textual applications and also with a broaderapplication to the cultural symbol systems.’710It should be noted here that both the book and the voiceare being considered as images in my discussion of metaphors ofword. While the word “image” can be somewhat misleading sinceit suggests only visual objects, I am using “image” to refer toanything which can be received by any of the senses.A question which remains is whether the literary or thecultural context is the most fruitful place for an investigationof imagery. Since metaphor is always a conscious construct andalways involves some explicit expression by the writer, it istempting to begin with the metaphorical use of images inliterature and then to consider their symbolic import. And yet,as Curtius suggests, a pervasive cultural symbol, such as abook, sometimes generates metaphors in literature. In hischapter “The Book as Symbol,” Curtius shows how the book, whichhad assumed a central place as an esteemed object in theculture, gave rise to countless writing metaphors in theliterature.Relying on Goethe’s premise that only subject matter whichis “value—charged” can serve as a source of figurative language,Curtius demonstrates that it is only when the book possessed thenecessary cultural value as a symbol that it had the necessary“life—relation” to prompt literary metaphors. He contends that“The use of writing and the book in figurative language occursin all periods of world literature, but with characteristicdifferences which are determined by the course of the culture ingeneral” (303, emphasis added). Because the potential for a11genuine life—relation between people and books was manifestlygreater during some periods than others, it was during thesepeak periods when writers were more motivated to choose writingmetaphors. In illustration, Curtius traces recurring writingmetaphors in European literature, such as “the book ofexperience,” “the red ink of martyrs’ blood,” and a “bookbinding as a human face” and emphasizes how their use varieswith the times. He asserts that such writing metaphors wereconspicuous and significant in the literature during thoseperiods when the book was a valued symbol and wereinconsequential when the book was not as highly regarded.Furthermore, Curtius contends that “after the Enlightenmentshattered the authority of the book and the Technological Agechanged all the relations of life,” the book lost its place asan esteemed symbol and writing imagery lost its significance inthe literature (347). My interest stems partially from thiscontention by Curtius that the book was no longer a pervasivesymbol after the eighteenth century and from the questions itposes. What happened to the book as a symbol in America in thenineteenth century? If it did lose its place of honor, whatsymbol, if any, took its place? And, most importantly, what dothe writing metaphors of American writers in the nineteenthcentury reveal about their habits of mind? If Curtius is rightthat the characteristic way writing is used as figurativelanguage is culturally determined, and I believe that he is,then we might hypothesize something about the writing metaphors12used in this body of literature by first examining the values ofthe nineteenth-century culture and then test this hypothesis bystudying the literary metaphors themselves. The questions andconclusions that Curtius provides with reference to Europeanliterature serve as a backdrop for my explorations of Americanliterature. Like Curtius, I contend that a study of recurringtropes allows for a unified perspective on a body of literature.Linguistic and Epistemic ActionGiven this background, I am asserting that Americanliterature of the nineteenth century reflects a shift away fromthe book toward the VOICE as a predominant symbol, and away fromwriting toward speaking as a pervasive metaphor. As part ofthis overall claim, I am arguing that a particularly strikingmetaphor of word that pairs speech and silence, which I amterming “expressed silence,” merits special attention in the waythat it reveals a significant attitude about the relationshipbetween language and knowledge. Basic to my discussion is thecontention that metaphors selectively highlight ideas so that“If an idea is important to a person or culture, it will findits way to imagery.”18 Because language, especially speech, wassuch an important topic in the writings of the nineteenthcentury, it is inevitable that it would find its way into theimagery in the literature.Furthermore, it is the process by which language providesepistemic access that is being highlighted by these metaphors ofword, namely, that the process of using language is a useful13perspective for viewing the process of knowing. Assumed in mydiscussion is the belief that the metaphorical habits of thesewriters reflect an attitude about language that existed in theirculture: Using language is a way of thinking. While thesewriters might have been more vocal about this attitude towardlanguage than the common person, they reflect the nineteenth—century’s cognitive inclinations. These writers had a life-relation with words, and even though they were aware oflinguistic limitations, they were preoccupied with language andits primacy; it follows that they would make language the mainsubject matter of their writing and use the domain of languageitself as a source of their figurative expressions. Theirmetaphors of word employ language as vehicle and knowledge astenor, so that the domain of language provides the perspectivefor viewing the domain of knowledge. Drawing on metaphors oflanguage to represent cognition, they highlight the relationshipbetween the process of using language and the process of gainingknowledge. The result is the creation of literary texts inwhich linguistic and epistemic concerns are inextricablyintertwined.An investigation of these metaphors of word will show howthese American writers use language both as the subject matterof their writing and as a source of figurative language. Usingmetaphors of word enabled them both to affirm what theyunderstood about the relationship between using language andthinking and to explore that relationship further. The14metaphorics of this literature will show that theirs was anepistemic search: they sought to understand how we come to knowwhat we know. Underwriting these metaphors of word was thebelief that the process by which we use language could providea perspective for examining the process by which we discerntruth. While the particular kind of truth sought by each writerwas distinct, they were all absorbed with the epistemic processand the way language informs this process. In their minds,thinking and using language were inextricably linked, and themetaphorics of their texts reveals this bond. Their metaphorsof word served to provide a cognitive perch from which to viewthe ways they came to understand themselves and their world.Furthermore, that these writers choose metaphors of word ascognitive devices for understanding the episteinic processsuggests how their nineteenth—century audience might also haveregarded the relationship between language and knowledge.This shift from writing to speaking as the privilegedsource of literary metaphor is decisive, involving an ongoingdepreciation of the written text alongside the continualprivileging of the spoken word. It is my contention that speechimagery is preferred over writing imagery because the voice wasvalued over the book in the nineteenth—century culture. As partof this claim, I will show that these metaphors of word arealigned with ways of discovering truth, so that writing imageryis paired with reason and speaking imagery is linked withintuition. At the same time that the voice was valued over the15book, there was a preference for intuition over reason as asource of truth.Furthermore, at times these writers resorted to anexpressed silence metaphor to represent the relationship betweenmetacognition and interior speech. In this alignment, a self—conscious understanding of some ideas (like God, the self, humanpassion, and death) is associated with silent internal speech.In this metaphor, attending to silence reflects the self-conscious attempt to understand particularly elusive truths.This expressed silence metaphor highlights the way we can useunarticulated speech——interior speech——to consider thoseeternally troublesome truths that we can never really access andfurther points to those elusive moments when knowing and beingcoalesce. Lev Vygotsky has described the function of the “innerspeech” of an adult as “thinking for himself’ rather than forsocial adaptation”9 and characterizes it as “a dynamic,shifting, unstable thing, fluttering between word and thought”(149). In the metaphorics of word, silence marks this“fluttering” state when we are aware of our thinking.I believe that it is this expressed silence metaphor ofword that is the most significant feature of the metaphorics ofnineteenth—century American literature because of the way ithighlights how this culture valued a private logos. Whilelanguage was appreciated for its capacity to proclaim ideaspublicly, or these writers would not have written at all, it isthe capacity that language has for helping them to be aware that16they know what they know that these writers most valued. In itscapacity for pointing simultaneously to both language andthought, expressed silence emerges as a metaphor formetacognit ion.For these nineteenth—century writers, language providedepistemic access; it was through the process of making meaningwith words that they came to understand truth. Theirs was aprivate logos because they valued words more for the way theyenabled personal pursuits of truth than for the way they enabledpublic declaration of these truths. For them, using languagewas a way of thinking, and that is why they spent so much timetalking about language and drawing on it as a source of theirmetaphors. Because these writers were so preoccupied with theuse of language for the active sorting through of ideas, itfollows that they would look to speech, rather than writing, asthe most appropriate source of imagery. The book, with itsimplied public audience, was rejected; speech, with itsassociations of more private audiences, such as in personalconversations, was preferred. Speech implies some kind ofdialogue, some kind of immediate exchange between speaker andlistener in a way that writing does not. The book, oncewritten, can simply lie there, waiting for the reader to engagewith it; but the voice, once spoken, necessarily means that anylistener within hearing range has been engaged, no matter howslightly. The book represents a finished product, the resultsof thinking, while the voice represents the ongoing process of17thinking, a process of call and response by which a writer couldeven take both parts, as both speaker and listener. With itspotential for expressing the boundless nature of truth, thevoice is an attractive literary image.Method of AnalysisIn supporting these assertions, I will provide a discussionin three parts: the cultural context of nineteenth—centuryAmerica, the metaphoric system within each subject text, and therole of the expressed silence metaphor within these metaphoricsystems. Since I contend that the voice is one of those imagesthat has acquired symbolic meaning both by its use in theculture and in the literature, in chapter two I will discuss thepolitical, economic, aesthetic, and religious features ofnineteenth—century American culture which would have resulted ina high regard for the human voice and which help account for itssymbolic import. In this discussion of the cultural context,attention will be drawn to four main factors which contributedto the voice being so value—charged: democracy and its emphasison the individual, mercantilism and its commodifying of thebook, Romanticism and its view of the writer as seer, andCalvinism and its theological provisions for both the book andthe voice. In discussing these four cultural features, I willshow how the voice acquired symbolic meaning outside of theliterary texts.Following this discussion of the cultural context, inchapters three, four, and five I will take up the four literary18texts and their metaphoric systems for the purpose of discerningthe metaphors of word used and of observing how they contributeto a common perspective. In this metaphoric study, I will usethe procedures as outlined by Foss as typical of a rhetoricalapproach: an investigation of the literary artifact as a whole,a classification of metaphors into various clusters or groups,an identification of specific metaphors within these basicgroups, an analysis of these specific metaphors, and anevaluation of the metaphoric system of each text (191-194).While Foss places identification of specific metaphors second inthe sequence, I have chosen to discuss the classification of themetaphor groups before examining specific metaphors. Althoughmy original line of inquiry followed Foss’ sequence, I believethat the discussion of my findings will profit from an earlierexposition of the metaphor types because my intent is toemphasize the commonality of metaphors used and, thus, tohighlight the similarity of basic metaphor types.In investigating each literary artifact as a whole, I willexamine how the images of the voice and the book operate in thefour texts both as literal components and as sources offigurative expression. While I aim to focus attention on theway the domain of language is used as a source of figurativeexpression, it is also necessary to spend some timeacknowledging how language operates literally in these texts.In order to discern how the domain of language servesmetaphorical meaning, we need to see how it serves literal19meaning in each text. This need for establishing overallliterary context is crucial in understanding how a particularmetaphor operates in the overall literary experience of a text.As Philip Stambovsky explains, an image obtains metaphoricalmeaning in terms of the whole experience of reading the text anddiscovering certain themes: A “depictive image” is a “fieldphenomenon” which acquires its meaning “in the unfolding ofliterary themes that occur in the medium of the reader’sconsciousness.”2° We experience specific metaphors within atext in terms of the overall literary experience; we understandcertain images in terms of the unfolding themes, and weunderstand literary themes in terms of both literal andfigurative action. After establishing the overall thematicdirections within a text, I will then move on to a closer lookat how the metaphors of word relate to those themes. Indiscussing the figurative uses, I will show how the metaphors ofword operate similarly in all four texts and how the speakingmetaphors assume special significance. I want to demonstratethat there is a pronounced progression away from writingmetaphors, to speaking metaphors, until we get to Moby Dickwhere “silence reigns.”In the classification, identification, analysis, andevaluation of the metaphors in each text, I will rely on thetheoretical framework provided by George Lakoff and Mark Johnson(1980) in their experiential-gestalt approach to theinvestigation of metaphors. Because I am more interested in20identifying the patterns of metaphors and how they areculturally influenced than in explaining how they are obtainedlinguistically, the experiential approach is pertinent in theway that it accounts for what Lakoff and Johnson call the“systematicity” evident in the common metaphors we encounterdaily.2’ They argue that metaphor is not a mere matter ofwords, but of thoughts. They assert that metaphor is aconceptual phenomenon that results from the way we experiencethe world and that these resulting gestalts serve to structureboth our thinking and our language and become the “metaphors welive by.” Because they are concerned with showing theconceptual schemes inherent in various metaphors and discerningthe systematic nature of these schemes, their approach will behelpful in revealing the systematicity that I believe isoperating in the metaphors of word under study here. Theiraccount identifies coherency across metaphors when they areviewed as a system. Thus different metaphors can be coherent ifthey highlight different aspects of a concept while notcontradicting each other (94-95). Furthermore, their emphasison how these metaphors are culturally based is fundamental to myinvestigation as well (9).Essentially, the experiential theory seeks to demonstratethe systematic nature of our metaphorical usage by identifyingthe common patterns of metaphor used within our culture.Critical to their discussion is the contention that it is themetaphor in the mind that they are most interested in21discerning, so that when they speak of metaphor, “it should beunderstood that metaphor means metaphorical concept” (6). Theirclassification system establishes an index to those metaphoricalconcepts that provide the basic mental gestalts which serve tostructure our experiences and which are articulated by a varietyof linguistic expressions (5). It is to these basic conceptualmetaphors that they give priority in their discussion, and thatI am using as a guide in sorting the basic metaphors of wordthat operate in the subject texts.Although Lakoff and Johnson are not concerned with poeticmetaphors so much as with those that are used in everydayspeech, they do propose a view of metaphor that can be appliedto literary metaphor and which George Lakoff and Mark Turner useat greater length in their guide to poetic metaphor, More ThanCool Reason. The experiential—gestalt view establishes threemain kinds of basic conceptual metaphors which we use tounderstand life: structural, orientational, and ontological.The structural metaphor refers to one concept which ismetaphorically structured in terms of another, such as “ARGUMENTIS WAR” (Lakoff and Johnson 4). The orientational metaphororganizes a whole system of metaphors with respect to oneanother and usually involves a spatial relationship, such as“HAPPY IS UP” (14). The ontological metaphor represents anon—discrete item as a discrete entity, such as “THE MIND IS ANENTITY” (26). I will use these three metaphor types, then, tosurvey the basic metaphors that I observe in my subject texts.22As Lakoff and Turner have noted, these basic metaphors are theones that are fundamental to a culture and that we useautomatically and frequently.22Using the categories of the experiential catalogue instudying the metaphors of word in the subject texts, I haveidentified two recurring structural metaphors: UNDERSTANDING ISSEEING (Lakoff and Johnson 48, Lakoff and Turner 94) andUNDERSTANDING IS HEARING. These metaphors, as Eve Sweetsernotes, are basic metaphors and are universal or near—universalfeatures in all Indo—European lexical systems.23 Thesemetaphors, she explains, are based on their etymologies and onthe close connections that the perception verbs “see” and “hear”have with understanding (31-35). Her explanation reinforces theexperiential account because since we tend to base ourunderstanding on data obtained by the eyes and ears, ourexperience causes us to structure the domain of understanding interms of the domains of sight and hearing.The naming of these two basic structural metaphors promptsa question about the difference between them: how is theunderstanding associated with seeing different from theunderstanding associated with hearing? Sweetser observes thatboth hearing and sight are associated with intellectualprocessing, but that hearing is more restricted to acommunicative kind of understanding, as in “I hear what you’resaying,” rather than in the broad kind of intellectionassociated with seeing, as in “I see what you mean.” She says23that “It would be a novelty for a verb meaning ‘hear’ to developa usage meaning ‘know’ rather than ‘understand’, whereas such ausage is common for verbs meaning ‘see’. In this way,UNDERSTANDING IS SEEING would seem to have more applicationssince it applies to a general kind of understanding, and notjust mental reception. However, Sweetser identifies anotherdifference: hearing, in contrast with seeing, is also used torepresent the kind of understanding that leads to obedience (42-43). With these linguistic considerations in mind, we canconsider how these two basic structural metaphors operate in thesubject texts.To be in keeping with my portrayal of these as metaphorsof word which structure ways of understanding, and to reflecttheir use more accurately in the texts I am studying, I will usea more text—specific version of these two structural metaphorsand restate them as RATIONAL UNDERSTANDING IS READING andINTUITIVE UNDERSTANDING IS LISTENING. In these two metaphors,the process of understanding rationally is structured by theprocess of reading, and the process of understanding intuitivelyis structured by the process of listening. I take them to bevariations of the two more generally-stated metaphors discussedabove. In addition, I have observed a third basic metaphor thatis related to the structural metaphor RATIONAL UNDERSTANDING ISREADING, but which is an ontological metaphor: RATIONALKNOWLEDGE IS A BOOK. I will show how these three metaphors arecoherent within the metaphoric systems of these texts because24they highlight different, but compatible, features of theprocess of knowing. It is important to note that there is nocorresponding ontological voice metaphor. Before the advent oftape recorders, the human voice could not be objectivelyrecorded in a way that was comparable to the physicallydeterminate covers of a bound book. I would argue that thesewriters’ elevation of the hearing structural metaphor, ratherthan a related ontological metaphor, signals their concern withboth the linguistic and epistemic processes more than with theirresulting products. Having identified these three basicmetaphors of word, I will use them in succeeding chapters toanalyze and evaluate the metaphoric systems of each text.Chapter six of my discussion will focus on the role thatthe expressed silence metaphor plays in these metaphoricsystems. This metaphor is a complex variation of the basicmetaphors RATIONAL UNDERSTANDING IS READING and INTUITIVEUNDERSTANDING IS LISTENING which results in a new structuralmetaphor: SELF-CONSCIOUS UNDERSTANDING IS READING/LISTENING TOSILENCE. The process of intuitive understanding is structuredin this metaphor by the process of attending to silent, interiorvoices. Important to note is that this metaphor is NOT coherentwith the other three metaphors of word discussed so far becauseit introduces a basic contradiction that does not fit with theother structural metaphors: attending to silence.24 In allfour texts, this expressed silence metaphor highlights whatinterior speech can provide to an understanding of certain ideas25that can not be understood in any other way.While the silence metaphor is common to all four texts, itis expressed differently in each one and is used to represent aself—conscious awareness of different elusive ideas: God, theself, human passion, and death. In Nature, “mute gospel” is onelinguistic expression of this metaphor and represents the waythat listening to the silent voice of nature can reveal the “godwithin.” In Walden, speaking silence finds expression in thephrase “silent harmony” and points to the way the individualcomes to hear his own unique inner voice in the company ofnature. In The Scarlet Letter, the pairing of “unuttered” with“sympathy” expresses an understanding of how people come to knowthe truths of the heart by listening to their own inner voices.And in Moby Dick, Melville’s phrase “pyramidical silence”conveys the expressed silence metaphor and acknowledges the waythat language cannot access truths, like death, and can onlyenable each person to name for himself what it is that he doesnot understand.It is this expressed silence metaphor and its variationsthat I find most significant in the metaphorics of nineteenthcentury American literature because it calls attention to theirview of language in such a novel way. It highlights the powerof interior speech and its potential for making us aware of ourpowers of understanding while recognizing an ultimate limit:language can take us only so far. The expressed silencemetaphor satisfies a need that other metaphors of word can not26accomplish: the need for voicelessness, for it is the silencethat so effectively represents the place where being and knowingmerge.To summarize, then, my overall method of analysis will beto move from an overview of the cultural context, to adescription of the metaphoric systems in each text, to adiscussion of the role of expressed silence in these metaphoricsystems. This three—part analysis comprises the five remainingchapters. Chapter two, “From The Culture of the Book to theCulture of the Voice,” traces four features of nineteeth—centuryAmerica which together influenced the shift from book to voice:democracy, mercantilism, Romanticism, and Calvinism. Chapterthree, “The Voice of the Translator in Nature and Walden,”describes the similar way in which Emerson and Thoreau look tolanguage for transcendental knowledge. Chapter four, “TheTongue of Flame in The Scarlet Letter,” concerns Hawthorne’sattention to language as a way of understanding human passion.Chapter five, “Voices of Negation in Moby Dick,” focuses on theultimate failure of language to account for human suffering anddeath. Chapter six, “The Literacy of Silence,” presents adiscussion of the expressed silence metaphor in all four textsand of how it contributes to the metaphorics of word.27Chapter 1 Notes1. See Rene Dirven, “Metaphor as a Basic means for Extending theLexicon,” in The Ubiquity of Metaphor: Metaphor in Languageand Thought, pp. 85-86 for a discussion of how modernphilosophers and linguists agree on metaphor as a cognitiveactivity.2. Eva Kittay, Metaphor: Its Cognitive Force and LinguisticStructure, p. 13. All subsequent page citations are in thetext.3. Frederich Nietzsche, “On Truth and Lying,” pp. 252-254.4. l.A. Richards, The Philosophy of Rhetoric, p. 92.5. Kenneth Burke, “Four Master Tropes,” Kenyon Review, p.421.6. George Lakoff and Mark Johnson, Metaphors We Live By, p. 6.All subsequent page citations are in the text.7. See E.R. Curtius, European Literature and the Latin MiddleAges, pp. 128—144, for a general discussion of metaphorics andpp. 302-347 for a discussion of “The Book as Symbol.” Allsubsequent page citations are in the text.8. Richard Poirier, A World Elsewhere: The Place of Style inAmerican Literature, p. 5.9. Kenneth Burke, Counter-Statement, p. 10.10. Sonja K. Foss, Rhetorical Criticism: Exploration and Practice,p. 190. All subsequent page citations are in the text.11. See Lane Cooper, The Rhetoric of Aristotle, p. 17, for adiscussion of epideictic rhetoric as one of the three kinds ofdiscourse.12. See Patricia Bizzell and Bruce Herzberg, The RhetoricalTradition: Readings from Classical Times to the Present, pp.901—902, for a discussion of how modern theorists such asMichael Foucault and Jacques Derrida demonstrate this themethat rhetoric is epistemic.13. Sonja K. Foss, Karen A. Foss, and Robert Trapp, ContemporaryPerspectives on Rhetoric, p. 251. See Robert L. Scott, “OnViewing Rhetoric as Epistemic,” Central States Speech Journal,18 (February 1967), p. 17 and “On Viewing Rhetoric asEpistemic: Ten Years Later,” Central States Speech Journal,27 (Winter 1976), pp. 258—266.14. Norman Friedman, Form and Meaning in Fiction, p. 288.2815. See Angus Fletcher, Allegory: The Theory of a Symbolic Mode,p. 17, notes 30 and 31, for a discussion of how allegory andmetaphor are expressed linguistically and how “symbol issupralinguistic.” All subsequent citations are in the text.16. See S.T. Coleridge, Miscellaneous Criticism, p. 29, fororiginal discussion of this distinction between allegory andsymbol.17. See Kenneth Burke, Language as Symbolic Action, p. 2, for adiscussion of this general concern with ‘symbolic action’.18. Roderick P. Hart, Modern Rhetorical Criticism, p. 219.19. Lev Vygotsky, Thought and Action, p.18. All subsequent pagecitations are in the text.20. Phillip Stambovsky, The Depictive Image: Metaphor andLiterary Experience, p. 6.21. Lakoff and Johnson, Metaphors We Live By 7. Note how theexperiential account poses rhetorical concerns in its regardfor the cultural context of language use, pp. 22-24, and in itsintimation that language is epistemic, p. 68.22. George Lakoff and Mark Turner, More Than Cool Reason: A FieldGuide to Poetic Metaphor, p. 5. All subsequent page citationsare in the text.23. See Eve Sweetser, From Etymology to Pragmatics: Metaphoricaland Cultural Aspects of Semantic Structure, p. 33, for adiscussion of UNDERSTANDING IS SEEING and pp. 41-43, for adiscussion of UNDERSTANDING IS HEARING. All subsequent pagecitations are in the text.24. See Lakoff and Turner, p. 71, for a discussion of the“conceptual power of poetic metaphor.” They might explain thesilence metaphor as a “novel extension” of UNDERSTANDING ISLISTENING, but the experiential challenges of “listening tosilence” would make this explanation problematic.29CHAPTER 2FROM A CULTURE OF THE BOOK TO A CULTURE OF THE VOICECultural Spheres of InfluenceMoving from a belief that a metaphorics of word operates innineteenth—century American literature and reveals a unifiedattitude toward writing and speaking imagery, I am seekingdetails of this perceived unity. Assumed in this search is theunderstanding that typically there is a coherency between thefundamental values of a culture and its literary imagery, andgiven this assumed coherency, a consideration of cultural normsis in order. Surveying cultural values in a certain time periodnecessarily involves an equivocating spirit or at least awillingness to distil patterns from selected details because thedistances of both time and place require that one rely oncertain generalizations and establish certain qualifications.My focus will be on the first half of the nineteenthcentury; however, I acknowledge that references will need to bemade to events and attitudes evident for years and evencenturies earlier. The specific time frame under considerationis the one that often emerges in any discussion of Americanliterature during this century: 1830 to 18551: a time spanwhich includes the years which are referenced by F. 0.Matthiessen in his study of the “American Renaissance” and whichembraces the publishing of the four subject texts.2 My aim is30to identify certain societal patterns which emerge during thistime period and which are compatible with an esteem for thevoice as a cultural and literary symbol. Since cultural valuesare inherently dynamic and elude any monolithic description, Ido not purport to enumerate absolutes. Furthermore, my focus isdeliberately narrow, and the cultural trends of interest hereare only those which I believe have a significant link to thelanguage imagery under study. An historical overview of thepertinent cultural inclinations of this time will thus providea grounding for the discussion of the metaphorical systems tofollow.As René Wellek and Austin Warren observed about this kindof historical overview, “While a period is thus a section oftime to which some sort of unity is ascribed, it is obvious thatthis unity can be only relative. It merely means that duringthis period a certain scheme of norms has been realized mostfully” (qtd. in Clark) . Since I am assuming that there is ametaphorical system operating in these texts, it is a cultural“scheme” that I want to explore because of its advantages formetaphoric analysis. Furthermore, it is important to emphasizethat I am not interested in establishing the precise nature ofthe relationship between discourse and social practices, as manymodern philosophers have done.4 Instead, I am considering thecultural situation as a gloss on the literary texts. Just asdiscourse can be viewed as a social act, so too can socialactivity be viewed as discourse, as another text to be31interpreted. Given my assumptions about the relationshipbetween metaphor and symbol, this study is necessarily“intertextual” in this way.This approach is similar to that taken by Jesse Gilirich inhis exploration of how the “idea of the Book” provided a“structuring principle” in the middle ages.5 Based onFoucault’s idea of a cultural “episteme,” Gelirich contends thatthe Book represents an episteme evident in such cultural formsas architecture and music from the fourth century to thefourteenth. Just as he presents his discussion as a“consideration of the conditions of signifying that produced thegreat books of the middle ages” (19), so too do I mean toexamine the ‘conditions of signifying’ that produced the greatbooks of the nineteenth century.Four spheres of influence in nineteenth—century cultureemerge as having particular importance to this metaphoric study:political, economic, aesthetic, and religious. The intent ofthe following discussion is to suggest how certain features ofeach sphere resonate with the imagery used in the texts understudy. While each area could be viewed as continuous withanother, the purpose here is to emphasize each one as a separatecultural form. Relying on an historical footing, I will thensuggest how these cultural patterns support the voice as avalued symbol. The rhetorical focus in this section is on theaudience and on how prevailing cultural values might haveinfluenced their expectations as readers. My major contention32is that the confluence of these four cultural spheres reflectsa degradation of the written text and an elevation of the spokenword as a source of authority, a shift that corresponds to adevaluation of writing imagery and a revaluation of speakingimagery in the literature. In short, by 1830 in America, aculture of the book had become a culture of the voice.The Influence of DemocracyAs a fledgling democracy in the early 1800’s, America wasexperiencing an acute tension between the public good of thenation and the private need of the citizen. The culturalresolution of this tension was to place in background thecollective consciousness and to put in foreground a sense of theindividual. While historians range considerably in theiridentification of prevailing norms during this period, mostwould agree that individualism, released by the profession ofdemocratic ideals, was preeminent. In such documents as theDeclaration of Independence, a commitment to the “inherent andinalienable rights” of the individual had been declared.Furthermore, since these democratic credos had proclaimed thatgovernments derive their power “from the consent of thegoverned,” the primary authority for governing became vested inthe individual citizen.This confidence in the capacity of the individual wasstrengthened by the influence of figures such as BenjaminFranklin, who declared his belief in human perfectability andmade obvious attempts to realize this potential. Not only were33there citizens like Franklin who justified this trust in thehuman potential, but also there were more and more citizens inthe nineteenth century who became active in human rightsprograms and, as Harry Hayden Clark has noted, “theindividualism of the age is expressed by its external reformmovements” (123). Such movements as Abolitionism and Women’sRights manifested this concern with individual worth and withthe growing inclination to talk about how to improve the lot ofthe common person. For example, in 1839, the anti—slavery viewentered politics with the formation of the Liberty Party bymoderate abolitionists, and in 1848, the Seneca Falls Conventionfor women’s rights was called to order.6 By mid—century, socialreforms such as these signaled the shift of emphasis fromcolonial rights to human rights.More than half a century earlier, the break from Englandhad called for a tipping of the scales on the side of thecollective good, and revolutionary rhetoric had reflected thereadiness to count a liberated state above a human life: “Giveme liberty or give me death.” But the Revolution was over andFranklin’s call for self—improvement prompted others to respond,so that a need emerged for talk of singular people, not justmodel citizen types, but ordinary citizens as well. Thedemocratic context prompted a concern with people, taken one ata time, and an interest in the person——the inner person——inaddition to the public citizen taken en masse. Larzer Ziffquotes Alexis de Tocqueville in his prediction that such would34be the predominant theme of any democratic nation: “man himselftaken aloof from his country and his age and standing in thepresence of Nature and of God” (260). In the evolvingdemocratic state, the focus shifted from the Declaration ofIndependence to the independent human spirit itself, from theliberating document to the liberated person. The extent towhich stated democratic ideals were actually being realizedduring this time is not the issue so much as the consensus thatthe democratic valuing of the individual was paramount in thesociety. In other words, the emphasis had moved from theprinted texts’ publishing of human rights to the human capacityfor proclaiming these rights--to the voicing itself.That the writers of this time period were particularlyattentive to the political reality of their country can beassumed. As F. 0. Matthiessen remarks, “the one commondenominator” that these four writers shared “was their devotionto the possibilities of democracy” (viii). This democraticinsistence on the individual’s voice in the midst of the publicclamor is illustrated by Whitman’s inscription added to the 1867edition of Leaves of Grass: “One’s self I sing, a simple,separate Person; yet utter the word Democratic, the wordEn-Masse” (qtd. in Ziff 244). As H.H. Clark notes, democraticauthors were more immediately concerned with themselves asliberated individuals than they were with the freedom of thestate (123). This longing to tell of the separate person andyet affirm the masses challenged all writers during these years.35Tocqueville’s prediction that writers in a democracy wouldattend to the individual heart and mind is certainly supportedby the texts of Emerson, Thoreau, Hawthorne, and Melville.So it was that this yearning to speak of the individual“aloof from his country” and yet to affirm support for thatcountry provided the challenge facing writers of this time, justas it created an expectation for all citizens. And not only didthe young democracy call for talk about the private individual,it provided more opportunities for speaking by individuals.Because the whole concept of democracy and its faith in theindividual implied that there would be more attention paid tothe voice of the common person, more forums were created fortheir voices to be heard. The Revolution had afforded statesmenand military leaders platforms for issuing urgent calls to arms,and now more speaking opportunities were provided to ordinarycitizens. America already had a strong tradition of oratory,and the elocutionary movement of the early eighteenth centuryhad revived an interest in public speaking. Clark hasacknowledged how the creation and rapid growth of the lyceum inthe late 1820’s provided a lecture bureau which faciliatedopportunities for more speakers, as traveling orators becamemore active (180). Given this oral tradition and the beliefthat the democratic center of authority resided in the bodypolitic, the voice of the common person resounded with newauthority. This increased regard for orality in America, as afunction of its burgeoning democratic values, echoes the36situation in the Greek city-state of fifth-century B.C., whenthe new democratic principles afforded ordinary people with newforums for speaking, such as the courts.7 Whether the voice ofthe people in a democracy carries real influence in policymakingdoes not seem to matter so much as the fact that the democraticplatform inherently connotes a valuing of the individual voice.There is an obligation implicit in democratic rhetoric to valuethe voice of the common person and to provide opportunities forthis voicing.The Influence of MercantilismAlongside this democratic attention to the individualcitizen’s voice, there was an economic shift occurring inAmerica during these years, a shift which resulted in acorresponding re—evaluation of individual labor. Between 1820and 1830, the factory system grew dramatically, prompting ashift from a sustenance economy to a marketing economy. Peopleno longer raised crops and made things strictly for their ownuse but, instead, began marketing them for money. As a result,an individual’s effort was rewarded, not only with a sense ofsatisfaction, but also with monetary benefits. Faith in thepotential for self—government was accompanied by a growing faithin personal enterprise, as individual initiative paid off. Thisemerging mercantilism resulted in a new measure for assessingindividual productivity: The worth of a person’s work was equalto its marketplace value.As part of this economic expansion, the new mercantile37economy made the writing of literature a commercial venture andresulted in a depreciation of the book as an aesthetic object.As Michael Gilmore contends, “Literature itself became anarticle of commerce at this time (1832-1860), as improvements inmanufacture, distribution, and promotion helped to create anational audience for letters.”8 Improved printing techniquesand lower paper costs meant that books cost less to buy and,with a 90% literacy rate and more leisure time, a growingaudience of American readers provided a ready market for theselower priced books (3—4). The cheaper price and the increasednumber of consumers meant that books sold in greater quantities.Although books were now more affordable and available, theybecame less valuable. In a marketplace economy where sellingprice equates with worth, the higher the price and the rarer theitem, the more valuable it is; the lower the price and the moreavailable the item, the less valuable it is. This depreciationwas acknowledged by Tocqueville in 1840: “The ever increasingcrowd of readers and their continual craving for something newensure the sale of books that nobody much esteems” (emphasisadded) . In this way, the book became cheapened botheconomically and aesthetically. Books were no longer consideredartistic expressions of a writer’s mind and soul, shared withlike—minded readers, so much as marketable products to bepeddled along with other wares. Unlike the cherished, carefullycrafted artifact of earlier centuries, the book became just onemore commodity competing for the consumer’s attention.38Furthermore, because of the competition with cheaper bookspublished abroad, the books written by American writers weredevalued even further. Since copyright laws protected Americanbooks but did not govern foreign books, printers profited muchmore from printing the ones written by foreign authors. Clarkhas emphasized how in 1820, the majority of books purchased andread in America were actually written/printed abroad (182). Asa consumer good, then, the American book did not rank highlybecause the margin of profit was smaller than for its foreigncounterpart.Noteworthy is the fact that American books by male writerswere even further demeaned during this period of rapidcommercialization of literature. The sales of many womenwriters so far surpassed those of men on the popular market thatthe mid-century years have been dubbed the ‘feminine fifties’.Domestic novels written by women had far larger sales than bookswritten by the Romantic writers under consideration here. Forexample, of two books published in 1850, Hawthorne’s ScarletLetter sold between five and six thousand copies, while Susan B.Warner’s The Wide, Wide World sold forty thousand copies in lessthan a year. Given that Hawthorne had a larger audience thanthe other Romantics, these male writers clearly did not profitfinancially from the sale of their books (Gilmore 7). As aresult, the books of the American writers under study here wouldhave come to be associated with their diminished value in theAmerican marketplace. In general, as the book became more and39more of a commodity and continued to drop in market value, sotoo did it depreciate as a valued symbol in the Americanculture.The Influence of RomanticismBesides the influences of the democratic state and of themarketplace, aesthetic values were being profoundly affected bythe rise of Romanticism. Given the availability of Europeanbooks, the tenets of British Romanticism, which had beengenerated in the late 1700’s and early 1800’s, were readilyavailable to American audiences. In general, Romanticismtransformed aesthetic principles by shifting the focus from thework of art to the creative process. In contrast with themarketplace concern with the final product, the Romanticaesthetic valued the process. Given this context, Romanticismresulted in a resuscitation of the literary process and anelevation of the individual writer at the same time that itprompted a further depreciation of the book. The fundamentalprinciples of Romanticism called for a shift away from thewritten product toward the literary process, and away from thewritten product toward the human writer. Three primary featuresof the Romantic theory are at issue here: the alignment of theimagination, the superior faculty, with the process ofintuition; the equation of the poem with the poet; and thepreference for inner sight (insight) over mere sight(observation).By displacing rational reasoning with intuition as the40favored source of truth, British Romantic theory placed productin the background and foregrounded process. Because of itsassociations with the imagination, the intuitive process becamealigned with the creative process. In distinguishing betweenthe Fancy and the Imagination, Samuel Taylor Coleridgearticulated the Romantic definition of the literary process asone by which the poet unified “opposite or discordantqualities.”10 In his introduction to Coleridge’s treatise,editor John Shawcross acknowledges that this imaginative,unifying process was understood as a “direct intuitional act”(xxx). In this way, the Romantic tradition identified intuitionas the primary poetic act and proclaimed it superior to anyother cognitive approach. Logical reasoning (Understanding) wasviewed as a linear, static way of thinking in contrast to theorganic, dynamic process of intuition. Because it wasunderstood as a direct apprehension of truth by the individualmind through the senses or imagination without the mediation ofa linear process of reasoning, intuition was deemed superior.Furthermore, because intuition did not involve a standardsyllogistic form, it was a process unique to each writer and,thus, acquired additional value from its originality. Byelevating the imaginative process, the whole literary processwas rejuvenated as well.Since the site of the imaginative, intuitive process wasplaced in the mind of the poet, not in the written productitself, the increased appreciation for the literary process was41accompanied by a new appreciation for the writer. In BiographiaLiteraria, Coleridge provides for this equation between the poemand the poet: “What is poetry? is so nearly the same questionwith, what is a poet? that the answer to the one is involved inthe solution of the other” (XIV.12). Equating the poem(product) with the poet (person) prompted a keen interest in theindividual perspective. Furthermore, it was the poet’sImagination in action that was celebrated, not some staticpoetic essence, so that both the person of the writer and theimaginative (intuitive) process were elevated above anyresulting literary product. Because of the value placed on theintuitive process, there was a corresponding heightenedappreciation for the particular insight of each individualwriter. Furthermore, as Coleridge notes, because of individualknowledge and quality of feeling, each person spoke a uniquelanguage (XVI. 41). This Romantic preoccupation with theoriginality of each person’s creative process displaced aninterest in product and served to further demean the book. Itwas the poet’s individual mind in progress that was central toRomantic theory, not the resulting product. In this scheme, thebook was valued only as a marker of the imaginative process,rather than as an aesthetic object in itself.Moreover, the Romantic portrayal of the writer as seercalled for a new characterization of the literary process, sothat the writer was defined as a reader. The seer—poet wasdescribed as an unusually adept reader, as one with the capacity42to perceive the unity in “discordant qualities.” The resultingshift was from a regard for mere sight (observation) to an evenhigher regard for inner sight (insight). The writer was valuednot for simply observing the discord, but for the ability to seein a new way, to understand without direct sight, and to unifyin the process of seeing. This conception of the writer as onegifted in seeing interiorly was basic to the Romantic definitionof writer—as—seer. Tony Tanner has described this superiorangle of vision as a naive kind of looking, a “habit of wonder,”involving unanalyzed seeing. Quoting Thoreau, Tanner notes thatin this kind of sight, “The sauntering innocent eye sees withoutlooking.”1 In one way, it would seem that the stress placed onwriter—as—seer would have prompted an increased valuing ofwriting imagery because of its visual quality. However, it isimportant to emphasize here that this was an altogetherdifferent kind of seeing that was being advocated. Furthermore,because this Romantic vision called for an inner perception, itprovided for a connection with the human voice, which isgenerated from within and then issues forth. While theRomantics certainly paid attention to vision, their fundamentalprecepts implied that the sense of hearing be valued in a newand profound way.Tanner has noted how the English Romantics valued theauditory sense and portrayed the visual perception alone asinadequate and deprived (30). The Romantic characterization ofthe writer as inner seer, not as observer, calls for——perhaps43even insists on——the central role of hearing. In the expositionof the basic principles of their creed, Romantics often reliedon auditory imagery. In outlining the writer’s relationship tothe natural world in his essay “On Poesy and Art,” Coleridgedescribes how the poet must learn to hear the silent voice ofNature: “he must therefore absent himself for a season from her(nature), in order that his own spirit . . . may learn herunspoken language in its radicals” (lxxix). And in “TheDejection Ode” (1802), Coleridge characterizes the process bywhich the writer hears his own inner self in the voice of Naturebut emphasizes that it is the voice of the human soul that needsattention: “And from the soul itself thus must be sent a sweetand powerful voice, of its own birth, Of all sweet sounds thelife and element!” (xxxviii). Here the elemental life forceissues forth from the individual soul as a resounding voice fromwhich all other forces receive their ‘sounds’ and energy. Inthe Romantic scheme, the ability to hear this powerful voice(even when ‘unspoken’) is essential to both successful livingand effective writing.Wordsworth also described how Nature has a living voicethat at times humans can hear. In Book XIV of The Prelude, atlines 70—74, he suggests how hearing and seeing merge into a newmode of perception, a kind of sixth sense, when he describes howNature’s voice speaks to us through the creative mind when hesees in the moon “the emblem of a mind / That feeds uponinfinity, that broods / Over the dark abyss, intent to hear /44Its voices issuing forth to silent light / In one continuousstream.”2 Here the poet sees the visual emblem of a mind thatis listening to Nature’s voices, and the phrase “silent light”calls attention to the way that the creative process calls fora kind of “seeing with the ears.” More will be said in chaptersix of how silence operates in this remarkable kind oflistening. While Tanner has questioned whether the AmericanRomantics demonstrate this same high estimation of the auditorysense,’3 I would argue that their most privileged images implythis same deep regard for hearing and perhaps an even strongerdistrust of mere sight. Tanner himself calls attention to thislink between the Romantic vision and hearing when he quotesEmerson, “things will sing themselves if we learn to listen inthe right way” (38). This is the same view that Whitmanvocalizes later on in the century when he boasts at line 564 in“Song of Myself”: “My voice goes after what my eyes cannotreach.”14 Both of these American Romantics are emphasizing theway that the voice serves their expressive needs in a way thatthe book can not. Like their British counterparts, AmericanRomantics demonstrate their reliance on auditory imagery toportray their inner vision.By privileging the artist’s capacity for insight, theRomantics fostered a corresponding regard for the human voice.Not only was this affinity for the voice evident in the imageryof those writers who articulated the principles of Romanticpoetry, it was demonstrated in the increased attention to music45and song in general during this century. With its associationsof call and response, the speaking/listening process provided anobjective correlative for the creative process. Sinceintuition implies that the source of truth is inside theindividual, no external object--like the book--can appropriatelyrepresent this internal source. As Curtius has noted, the “bookof reason” had been used by philosophers and theologians sincethe twelfth century (320), and its use reflected a view ofreason as the primary source of truth. By replacing reason withintuition as the epistemic process of choice, however, theRomantics generated a need for some image that more fittinglyreflected this cognitive view. The voice, with its capacity forbeing both internal (generated inside) and external (heardoutside), could accommodate this attitude. Furthermore, thedisplacement of reason with intuition provided for a morecomplex portrayal of truth. As H. Clark notes about theRomantic tradition, truth became more difficult to communicate(154). Knowledge was no longer considered simply the result ofa rational, linear process; it now was characterized as anintuitive, organic process. This epistemic process could nolonger be accommodated by visual imagery alone because it calledfor some way to represent the dynamic nature of its workings,and thus it required a new reliance on auditory imagery. Inthis way, the book of reason gave way to the voice of intuition.The Influence of CalvinismWhile democracy, mercantilism, and Romanticism all46influenced the shift from a culture of the book to a culture ofthe voice, perhaps no other single feature of Americannineteenth—century life had as much effect on the roles of thesesymbols as the tradition of English Calvinism. While Calvinismand Puritanism began in the sixteenth century as separatestrains, they quickly merged in America.’5 Rooted in the earlysixteenth century when Calvin established its basic tenets, theCalvinist tradition provided a context for the other threecultural influences discussed so far. Given the tensiongenerated by their conflicting principles, Calvinism should beviewed as the trend and democracy, mercantilism, and Romanticismas countertrends. In other words, it was the deliberate effortto resist the Calvinistic hold on all areas of life and thepervasive attempt to secularize American society in thenineteenth century that prompted the rejection of Calvinism’sbasic source of authority: the Bible. Before examining how thedecline of Calvinism was compatible with the decline of the bookas symbol, I want to acknowledge briefly how the other threesocial spheres discussed so far operated in tension with thereligious influence.Democracy was at odds with Calvinism. The capacity of theindividual to self-rule, a democratic ideal, conflicted with theCalvinist portrayal of God as Divine Monarch and its mandatethat humans defer to a divine ruler. As Perry Miller concludes,the one attribute of God that Calvinism most emphasized wassovereignty.’6 Thus Calvinism was compatible with English rule47and the divine right of kings, but was directly opposed to thebasic democratic precept of self-government. For the goodcitizen, democracy required an acknowledgement of self—worth anda sense of confidence in the common person’s ability to govern.Part of this confidence resulted from the democratic contentionthat humans were inherently free and had control over theirdestiny. In his discussion of Calvinism, T. Herbert notes howthe believer must be willing to acknowledge total depravity andsubmission in exchange for a joyous reconciliation with God.17Despite ongoing attempts to adjust church doctrine to providefor some allowance for human free will, the efforts werecontinually rejected as heresy (Arminian).’8 With God asgoverning ruler, it followed that the Bible, as a divinelyinspired document, would be designated as the primary source ofauthority. This religious precept also necessarily underminedthe status of any of the political manifestos composed by humansand meant that the only written document with real authority wasthe Bible. Regard for the Bible as the sole authority precludedthe authority of any other written texts, resulting in anelevation of the Book, but a denigration of the book.Mercantilism also clashed with Calvinism. Like thedemocratic state, the marketplace called for a confidence in theindividual’s potential for achievement. Calvinism and itsprinciple of Manifest Destiny meant that God’s grace, notindividual effort, resulted in heavenly reward; in contrast, themarket economy provided for a personal work ethic and rewarded48individual labor with monetary profit. The profit motivegenerated an individual aggressiveness that was in tension withan obedient resignation to Divine Providence. The interest inmaterial goods in itself ran counter to the call to resist thisphysical world and to seek a better, spiritual world. Workingfor individual economic gain was fundamentally in conflict withthe believer’s reliance on God as provider. In the mercantilesystem, profit was earned by individual achievement; in theCalvinist system, merit was bestowed by God.Romanticism ran counter to Calvinism, too. In theCalvinistic design, Divine Providence was inscrutable; in theRomantic scheme, truth was knowable. Calvinism insisted on theBible as the chief authority, with Nature as a secondary source;Romanticism replaced written Scripture with Nature as thesacred, unwritten text. While the Bible represented the recordof final definitive Truth, Romantic texts purported to berecords of process, of truth—in—the—making. Calvinism providedfor a universal priesthood; Romanticism established the writeras priest—prophet—seer, whose mission it was to interpret thenatural text.’9 The Romantic artist even seemed to assume therole of a cultural redeemer at times,2° implying a blasphemousarrogance in clear defiance of the Church’s insistence on humandepravity. Morse Peckham has remarked that the result ofRomanticism was that it created art as an alternative toreligion.2’ The dogmas were merely presented differently:Calvinists expressed their beliefs in theocentric terms, and49Romantics offered their creeds in secular language.By the 1800’s then, the political, economic, and aesthetictrends were running in obvious opposition to the religioustradition. Instead of total human depravity, the apparentlyboundless individual potential for goodness was beingemphasized. Rather than divine sovereignty, human authority wasbeing touted. And instead of the Bible, Nature was beingstudied as the text of truth. These emerging values served toweaken a religious tradition that was already in decline. Bythis time, the contradictions that existed within Calvinisttheology itself were undermining its strength as an institution.Primarily, it became increasingly difficult to reconcile theCalvinist doctrines of God’s omniscience and the denial of humanfree will with the orthodox beliefs in the human expectation towillfully follow Christ and repudiate sin. The ongoing effortboth to deny human free will and yet simultaneously to call forwillful acts ultimately could not be sustained. Its owninternal inconsistencies, along with the prevalence of the othercounterforces, have prompted many scholars to say that Calvinismhad died out by the nineteenth century. This evident rejectionof Calvinist dogma and its reliance on the Bible certainlysupport the view of a shift away from the culture of the book.That the book was the most conspicuous symbol associated withCalvinism is undisputable. As Alan Simpson has remarked,“Puritanism was the religion of a Book, and, without opportunityto master the Book and to engage in mutual criticism and50edification around it, it was hard to make any progress.”22Rejection of Calvinism implied a rejection of the book as acultural symbol.Calvinism, Christianity, and the VoiceWhile it is certain that Calvinism did not have thepredominant cultural hold that it did before the emergence ofdemocracy, mercantilism, and Romanticism, there is adequatereason to believe that its influence lingered. Some scholarshave insisted that Calvinism persisted as a cultural determinerlong after its supposed demise and was a pervasive influenceinto the twentieth century.23 Since secularization wascertainly on the move in the early 1800’s, no organized churchhad the apparent power it once had; and the many forces runningcounter to Calvinism would have resulted in its role being lessperceptible than it once was. If Calvinism continued to shapecultural values into the nineteenth century, and there issufficient reason to believe that it did, how can the symbol ofthe voice be reconciled with the Calvinist reliance on theBible?A closer look at Calvinism reveals how it provided a placefor the voice. Calvin’s own words in the Institutes of theChristian Religion (1536) establish a striking analogy betweenthe book and the voice. First, he establishes the role ofScripture to be like eyeglasses for the human understanding.Then in the very next sentence, he presents the Bible as ametaphor for God’s voice:51Just as old or bleary-eyed men and those with weakvision, if you thrust before them a most beautifulvolume, even if they recognize it to be some sort ofwriting, yet can scarecely construe two words, butwith the aid of spectacles will begin to readdistinctly; so Scripture, gathering up the otherwiseconfused knowledge of God in our minds, havingdispersed our dullness, clearly shows us the true God.This [Scripture), therefore, is a special gift, whereGod, to instruct the church, not merely uses muteteachers but also opens his own most hallowed lips.24In this passage, Calvin suggests that the divine voice isprimary, but since God and His works (Nature) are mute, theBible articulates the guide for living. The book becomes asubstitute for God’s voice. Not only does Calvin’s languagehere privilege the symbol of the voice, but Calvinist dogma andpractices provide for the role of orality——curiously perversethough it sometimes is.The perversity of orality’s role in Calvinism results fromits being both a source of grace and a source of damnation. Asa source of grace, speaking enabled ministers to spread the wordof God and church members to confess their sins. Althoughchurch members were bound by the revealed word of Scripture, theword was typically heard by the congregation and was mouthed byhuman ministers. Homilists often urged their hearers to listenas if they were listening to God’s very voice. JonathanEdwards, for example, refers to the eagerness with which hearers“drank in the words of the minister as they came from hismouth.25 Simpson has observed how in Puritan texts, God’svoice was characterized as heard both internally by the heartand externally by the ear (76). A high regard for God’s voice52in this way was certainly compatible with a religion that putmore stock in the invisible than in the visible and which urgedits members, as Ziff reminds us, to “read the visible assymbolic of the hidden” (141). In this way, the voice as asymbol of invisible speech was more in keeping with Calvinisttheology than the visible book.Another advantage of orality was the confession of savinggrace, which was a voiced spiritual biography required of anycandidate for sainthood, and which was a mainstay of Puritanfaith. For a time, American Puritans were required to make apublic confession for Church membership. While the publicconfession could be a source of grace, it was also a source ofdamnation for those accused of witchcraft. In the New Englandwitch trials, the bewitched who confessed were self—damned andthen executed. In a curious twist, the alleged witches in theSalem witch trials who confessed to complicity with the devilwere “saved” from death, though eternally damned.26 In thisway, the voice could be a source of both salvation and ofdamnation, and its dual associations reflected the contradictions within Calvinist dogma.Although orality operated in this perversely dual way attimes within Calvinism, generally it played a positive role andprovided church members with their main source of saving grace.Furthermore, it should be emphasized here that the voice hadalways enjoyed a favored place as a Christian symbol of divinepresence. In the Bible, all three members of the God—head53speak. The authoritative voice of God the Father often is heardspeaking from a cloud or from a burning bush. Christ, as theword made flesh and the “mouth of the Father” (Revelations19:13), speaks throughout the New Testament. And the HolySpirit, in the midst of Pentecostal eloquence, speaks in manytongues. The word of God is usually referred to as the spokenword, and the invitation to believers has always been to “listento the word of God,” rather than to “read” it. God’s word isissued by mouth, and its hearers often receive it by mouth aswell: “How sweet are thy words unto my taste! Yea, sweeterthan honey to my mouth!” (Psalm 119:103). Not only is God’sword sweet, though, it provides essential nourishment: “Mandoth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedethout of the mouth of the Lord doth man live” (Deuternomy 8:3).Here God’s spoken word is represented not only as a source ofgrace but as the source of spiritual life. Furthermore, theinvitation to be a follower of Christ was usually described asa “vocation,” a “calling” to which the faithful Christian wasexpected to answer.In surveying the use of metaphors in his Tropologia or Keyto Open Scripture Metaphors (1729), Benjamin Keach discusses thesignificant role of the voice in the Bible. His catalogue ofBiblical metaphor demonstrates how visual imagery and auditoryimagery represent two different kinds of divine knowledge.Seeing is associated more with omniscience, while hearing isaligned more with understanding. The book as a metaphor is used54by Biblical writers to represent a record of God’s “exactknowledge” and judgment, such as Jerome’s mention of two Booksof Judgment: one for believers and one for unbelievers.r Incontrast, the mouth is used as the instrument of speech by whichGod’s will is understood (45). The eyes of God are used to showhis precise foreknowledge of human nature, especially in knowingwho will be damned and who will be saved: “The Lord knoweththem that are His” (Timothy 2:2, 72). However, God’s earsdenote not only his knowledge of all earthly actions, but also,as Keach remarks, that “he understands, approves, and givesgracious response to the prayers of His people” (44). When Godsees, it is usually to acknowledge what He already knows; whenGod writes, it is to convey a final determination, either interms of judgment or law. When God hears, however, it isusually to acknowledge the concern He has for people, so thatwhen God speaks, it is to convey a compassionate regard forhumankind. “He knows the sins of men, which are said to cry,and enter into the ears of the Lord” (James 5:4).In the Bible, therefore, seeing is usually attributed toGod to emphasize His divine power of observation, while hearingis used to call attention to His grace and benevolence inresponding to the needs of His people. There is a difference inthe kind of knowledge and the nature of the response given:“When the Ear heard, then it blessed me, and when the Eye saw,it gave witness to me” (Job 29:11, Keach 92). This differencein divine perception is similar to the Romantic contrast in the55human ability to reason (associated with seeing and the book)and insight (aligned with hearing and the voice). In both theBiblical and Romantic schemes, the book is associated with anexternal product, a divine decree; while the voice is associatedwith an interior process, an exchange between God and humans.Furthermore, in the Biblical tradition, the images of book andvoice are used both to suggest and also to deny human free will:The book highlights God’s omniscience and the human submissionto it, while the voice calls attention to God’s compassion andthe human response to it. The human voice, with itsaccompanying association of inner knowledge, is celebrated inRomantic texts; both the book, with its link to divine judgment,and the voice, with its connection to divine compassion, arevalued in the Biblical tradition.This investigation of the roles of the book and the voicein Calvinist practices and in Biblical tradition suggests thatit was possible to resist Calvinist “book tenets,” such as thebeliefs in manifest destiny and predestination, and yet continueto be swayed by some of its “voice tenets,” such as the beliefsin saving grace and God’s compassionate call to a spirituallife. Since Calvinism valued the voice and also esteemed thebook, a continued influence of Calvinist principles could stillbe reconciled in a culture that no longer had the same life—relation with the book. Interpreted in this way, both thedecline of Calvinism and its persistence support the role of thevoice as a predominant cultural symbol.56The Voice as Literary SymbolTaken together, the four major cultural influences whichhave been discussed here——democracy, mercantilism, Romanticism,and Calvinism——were not only compatible with the voice as anesteemed cultural symbol, they provided for its status andfostered its regard. Given the evolving American ethos duringthe first half of the nineteenth century, the voice was a mostfitting symbol of these dominant cultural impulses. Democracyinsisted on hearing the “voice of the common person”;mercantilism gave the individual a voice in the marketplace;Romanticism established the poet—prophet as a “voice crying inthe wilderness,” and Calvinism allowed for the sound of God’scall and the amazing grace of the human response. In all fourspheres of influence, the voice accrued symbolic import.Given that the prevailing cultural values reflected agenuine life—relationship with the voice, one would expect thatthis relationship would generate corresponding literary imagery.We have already observed how the Romantic writers turned tovoice imagery to present their aesthetic principles, and it isinevitable that this imagery would operate significantly inother literature from the period as well. The purpose of thenext three chapters is to support that contention with detailsfrom the four subject texts themselves. After firstcharacterizing each literary text in terms of its overallthematic effect, I will establish how the metaphoric system ofeach text supports a view of the voice as a predominant literary57symbol.Therefore, the next three chapters will demonstrate how thesymbolic meaning of the voice as cultural symbol is echoed andenhanced by its symbolic meaning as literary symbol and how thevoice as cultural and literary symbol motivates its use in ametaphorics of word. In Chapter three, I will discuss Natureand Walden, to show how the poet’s voice, which serves totranslate the natural world, represents an understanding of theinner self in similar, yet distinct, ways in these two texts.Chapter four takes up The Scarlet Letter, and how the voice ofthe human heart, which speaks in the “tongue of flame”represents an understanding of human passion. Chapter fiveinvestigates Moby Dick and how the voices of negation, whichultimately silence each other, represent an understanding of thehuman limits of understanding mortality. In all four texts, Iwill show how the language process operates in a metaphorics ofword to represent the epistemic process.58Chapter 2 Notes1. See Lawrence Buell, Literary Transcendentalism: Style andVision in the American Renaissance, p.3, for a discussion ofthis time span.2. See FO. Matthiessen, American Renaissance: Art and Expressionin the Age of Emerson and Whitman for a discussion of thesetime parameters, p. vii. All subsequent page citations are inthe text.3. See Harry Hayden Clark, ed., Transitions in American LiteraryHistory, p. ix. for a discussion of this quote. All subsequentpage citations are in the text.4. See Michael Foucault’s The Archaeology of Knowledge (1969) and“The Order of Discourse” (1971) for a treatment of discourseas a practice, an action; Jacques Derrida’s “Signature EventContext” (1971, 1972) for a critique of the role of context;and Mikhail Bakhtin’s The Dialogic Imagination (1981) for adiscussion of the “heteroglossia” of speech and texts. Thesephilosophers present a representative sampling of the recentconcern with the problematics of historicism.5. Jesse M. Gilirich, The Idea of the Book in the Middle Ages:Language Theory, Mythology, and Fiction, p. 20. All subsequentcitations are in the text. Gilirich’s reference to MichaelFoucault’s idea of cultural “episteme” is from The Archaeologyof Knowing, Chapter two.6. See Larzer Ziff, Literary Democracy: The Declaration ofCultural Independence in America, pp. xxi and xxiii. Allsubsequent page citations are in the text.7. See E.R. Curtius, European Literature and the Latin MiddleAges, p. 304, for a discussion of how a disparagement ofwriting and an esteem for speaking were “typically Greek.”8. Michael T. Gilmore, American Romanticism and theMarketplace, p.1. All subsequent page citations are in thetext.9. Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, v. II, p. 61.10. Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Biographia Literaria, vol. 2, Bk. XIV,p. 12. All subsequent page citations are in the text.11. Tony Tanner, The Reign of Wonder: Naivety and Reality inAmerican Literature, p. 57. All subsequent page citations arein the text.5912. William Wordsworth, The Prelude, p. 461. An acknowledgementto Kathleen Lundeen (Western Washington University) forpointing out this passage.13. Tony Tanner, Scenes of Nature, Signs of Men, p. 30. Allsubsequent page citations are in the text.14. Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass, p. 55.15. William H. Shurr, Rappaccini’s Children: American Writers ina Calvinist World, p. 12.16. Perry Miller, The New England Mind: The Seventeenth Century,p. 14.17. T. Walter Herbert, Jr., Moby-Dick and Calvinism: A WorldDismantled, p. 113.18. See Miller, The New England Mind, pp. 367-369, for a discussionof the Arminian heresy.19. See Morse Peckham, Romanticism and Behavior, p.28, for adiscussion of the poet as seer.20. Morse Peckham, The Birth of Romanticism 1790-1815, p. 66.21. Peckham, Birth 265.22. Alan Simpson, Puritanism in Old and New England, pp. 11-12.All subsequent page citations are in the text.23. See Shurr, Rappaccini’s Children, p. 19, for a discussion ofthis lingering Calvinistic influence in the literature.24. John Calvin, Calvin: Institutes of the Christian Religion,p. 70.25. Michael T. Gilmore, The Middle Way: Puritanism and Ideologyin American Romantic Fiction, p. 40.26. See Gilmore, The Middle Way, pp. 20-2, for a discussion of thisconfessional practice and p. 39, for a treatment of its use inthe witchcraft trials.27. Benjamin Keach, Tropologia or Key to Open Scripture Metaphors,p. 72. All subsequent citations are in the text.60CHAPTER 3THE VOICE OF THE TRANSLATOR IN NATURE AND WALDENCommon ConcernsGiven the significance of the voice as a cultural symbol innineteenth—century America, its prevalence as a literary symbolwas inevitable. Because of these cultural reverberations andbecause of common themes centering on the inner person, thevoice emerges as a controlling image in the metaphoric systemsof the texts under consideration here. Specifically, it is theshift from the book to the voice as primary image thatunderwrites the metaphorics of word in all four texts in thisstudy. The resulting reliance on voice imagery furthers theliterary designs of Emerson and Thoreau where the centralconcern is with the relationship among God, self, and Nature; itserves Hawthorne’s expanded scheme where the focus is on therelationship between the self and others; and it can evenaccommodate the dimensions of Melville’s grand scheme whereattention turns to all peoples and their regard for mortality.I want to begin examining this progression by first tracing theTranscendental venture.Based on a tradition established by the British Romantics,American Transcendentalists were involved in a commontranslative project: To articulate the inner Spirit in terms ofthe “language” of Nature, which could then be proclaimed in the61language of convention. That Emerson and Thoreau share thisinterpretive pursuit is evidenced by their explicit concern withthe topic of language and its potential to access knowledge.Turning to Nature as their inspiration, they speak of languageas a vehicle for achieving transcendental knowledge. However,while their motives and modes are similar, the particular kindsof understanding that they pursue are distinct. Emerson seeksto understand the divine potential that he perceives residing inevery individual person, and Thoreau works at coming to termswith the individual’s powerful inner self that he perceivescompeting with external social pressures. Emerson characterizesthis inner self in more traditionally theocentric terms, whileThoreau describes this interior presence in more personallyhuman terms. Both attempt to articulate these distinctepistemic quests by employing similar metaphoric designs whichdraw on the symbols of the book and the voice. Ultimately,these metaphoric systems are marked by the inclination to turnto voice imagery in highlighting the individual’s search fortranscendental truth.For Emerson and Thoreau, whose writings were preoccupiedwith the inner self and its active relationship to Nature, thevoice was a particularly fitting image because of itsassociations with the living, breathing person. As writerswithin the Romantic tradition, their use of voice imagery incharacterizing the relationship between the inner Spirit and theouter Spirit echoes Coleridge’s portrayal of the relationship62between the imaginative energy within the person and that forcewithin Nature. In the poem “Dejection,” Coleridge describes howthe imaginative force, which originates within the person,issues forth from the interior self and is heard to echo inexternal Nature: “And from the soul itself thus must be sent /A sweet and powerful voice, of its own birth, / Of all sweetsounds the life and element!”1 Noteworthy in this descriptionis the way that the imaginative energy is represented as a voicethat springs from the human soul and resounds in Nature. ForColeridge, the image of the voice works to highlight thistransfer of spiritual, imaginative power; for Emerson andThoreau, the voice also serves to emphasize this profound flowof spiritual energy between the inner self and Nature. Myspecific contention is that as writers, Emerson and Thoreaushare Coleridge’s perception of poets as interpreters of selfvia the language of Nature and often align this hermeneutic rolewith the act of listening.In the Romantic scheme, the poet is the one responsible forstaying attuned to this spiritual exchange between the innerself and Nature in the human pursuit of knowledge. As JohnShawcross explains in his Introduction to Biographia Literaria,the writer’s particular talents meant that he was most suited tothe role of interpreting Nature:Both in virtue of his supreme self—knowledge and ofhis peculiar power of sympathy and intercoinmunion withnature, his is the mind best fitted to penetrate herhidden meaning, to understand her mute appeal, and tomake it intelligible to others. . . . (lxxxii)63In the essay “On Poesy or Art,” Coleridge stipulates thecredentials required for this interpretive act:He [the artist] must therefore absent himself for aseason from her [nature], in order that his ownspirit, which has the same ground with nature, maylearn her unspoken language in its radicals, before heapproaches to her endless composition of them.(qtd. in Shawcross lxxix)The Romantic portrayal of this interpretive process implies thatthe poet must experience the internal Spirit before he canunderstand the language of the external Spirit. Striking is thefact that until the inner self is grounded in the Spirit, Natureremains mute. In this way, the spiritual force originateswithin the person and then resounds in the natural world. Theshift from book to voice as primary image reflects this shift inthe source of primary authority--from outside the individual towithin the self. The visible book was displaced by theinvisible voice when the locus of power moved from outside towithin the person.This act of understanding the inner Spirit in terms of theouter natural world was regarded by the Romantics as an originalcreative act. In reading the natural text, these writers didnot regard themselves as merely observing natural wonders and inlistening to the soul’s voice echo forth into the natural world,they did not consider themselves as only communing with nature;instead, they thought themselves to be involved in the samecreative act by which the world came to be. The human act ofperception could echo the divine act of creation. Coleridgesets forth this analogue in defining the Primary Imagination as64“the living Power and prime Agent of all human Perception, andas a repetition in the finite mind of the eternal action ofcreation in the infinite I AN” and in defining the SecondaryImagination in terms of the voice “as an echo of the former”(202, emphasis added). Just as God exercised the PrimaryImagination by creating the potential for human perception, sotoo does the individual poet exercise the Secondary Imaginationby perceiving unity in discordance. This human process ofperception involves the same kind of unification as the originalact of divine creation and thus constitutes a kind ofrecreation. It is in representing this unifying kind ofperception--this intuitive translation of the spirit--that voiceimagery proves so useful to these writers.Because the Romantics, in general, and theTranscendentalists, in particular, were concerned with theindividual’s role in gaining aesthetic, moral, and intellectualknowledge via intuition, they looked to another essentiallyhuman activity for a way of understanding this epistemicprocess. A likely cognitive source was the domain of languageitself. Given an interest in the process of accessing knowledgethrough intuition, it was reasonable that they would turn to thelanguage processes for representing the intuitive process. Forthis reason, reading, considered a basically passive activity atthis time, required redefinition so that the idea of insightcould be understood. The resulting definition of “reading” as“seeing with the inner eye” provided a way of explaining how the65person intuited the inner Spirit without sensory cues. However,understanding how the person perceived this interior spiritualself called for a different language process-—one that couldaccommodate an understanding of the uniuediated process ofintuition as a spiritual flow originating from within. Thespeaking/listening process was especially useful forrepresenting the way that the divine Spirit dwelled within theperson, issued forth from the inner self, and resonated in theexterior Spirit of Nature. The Voice of God issued forth fromthe human soul, a voice which could then be heard to echo in thenatural world. Listening to this profound voicing was a way ofunderstanding the spiritual exchange occurring in the intuitiveprocess. By portraying the dynamics of this intuitivetransaction in terms of the voice, these texts acknowledge thecapacity of the language process to represent this epistemicprocess. By calling for an unmediated, intuitive relationshipwith the Spirit, these texts also negate the value of languageas a medium of exchange. The resulting rhetorical effect isthat of a critique of language.I want to examine the details of how this voice imageryoperated in a metaphorics of word to represent the intuitiveprocess by observing the translative efforts in Nature andWalden. Based on George Lakoff and Mark Turner’s provision fora global reading of a literary text,2 I will show how the sametwo structural metaphors operate as controlling concepts inthese texts. Two basic metaphors provide a unifying principle:66RATIONAL UNDERSTANDING IS READING and INTUITIVE UNDERSTANDING ISLISTENING. Like Lakoff and Turner, I am using “basic” here torefer to those metaphors which are used so frequently that theybecome fundamental to a conceptual framework (5). Of these twobasic metaphorical concepts, INTUITIVE UNDERSTANDING ISLISTENING operates as the favored metaphor because it privilegesthe voice and the intuitive way of knowing. Recalling myintroductory discussion of imagery, I am considering the shiftfrom the book to the voice here in terms of literary symbolism,as well as the expression of this shift in terms of metaphoricsto emphasize how the voice accrues literary symbolic meaning inaddition to its cultural import by virtue of its privilegedmetaphorical place in these texts.With their metaphoric systems, both texts argue that thewriter’s role is to interpret Spirit as echoed in the naturalworld in an effort to gain transcendental knowledge of the innerself. Both texts demonstrate that in order to interpret theitems in the natural world, language needs to be used in aspecial way: transcendental truth requires concrete particularsrather than abstract concepts. As Emerson explains in sectionIV of Nature (“Language”), material items in the world providethe symbols for understanding matters of the Spirit. Since“every natural fact is a symbol of some spiritual fact,” Natureas material fact provides a language for understanding spiritualfacts. And since every word which expresses a spiritual factoriginates in some material appearance, this correspondence67allows words to provide for an intuitive understanding of theSpirit without direct sensory mediation.3 The language ofconvention thus enables the material items of the natural worldto provide the language of the Spirit which these writerstranslate into transcendental truths. In this way, they act astranslators of Nature, which is itself a translator of thedivine life force. While they highlight differentunderstandings about the inner self, these texts are engaged inthis same interpretive project. That the metaphoric systemscould be so similar and yet offer distinct views is compatiblewith the unique process of each writer. Thoreau even questionsthe possibility of a single perspective: “As if Nature couldsupport but one order of understandings” (324). Havingestablished their common concerns, I will examine how each textappropriates the voice as predominant symbol and then go on toanalyze their metaphoric systems——but first an historical note.On ‘American Hieroglyphics’The discovery of the Rosetta stone in 1799 was a worldevent that prompted a keen interest in language and would haveinfluenced the use of the reading metaphor because it was partof the nineteenth—century understanding of the reading process.John Irwin is helpful here in documenting the pervasiveinfluence that the discovery and decipherment of Egyptianhieroglyphics was having during the time that these Americanswere writing. This deciphering activity will help explain whyall four writers in this study use linguistic expressions68referring to hieroglyphics. Beginning in the 1820’s, scholarssuch as Jean Francois Champollion were using the bilingual textof the Rosetta stone to decode ancient writings and weredemonstrating some success.4 This phenomenon served toforeground a particular kind of reading: the methodicaltranslation of mysterious hieroglyphic writings by expertinterpreters who were using other linguistic resources to assisttheir decoding.Therefore, the interpretive work in decoding these Egyptianwritings paralleled, to some extent, the American interpretiveproject of translating the text of Nature. Especiallynoteworthy in Irwin’s discussion is his acknowledgement that theultimate mystery of hieroglyphs was traditionally attractive.That some codes can not be cracked and that some texts can neverbe read was an appealing idea5 and was, of course, compatiblewith the Calvinist belief in the inscrutability of DivineProvidence. In this tradition, the texts of Nature and theBible were regarded as hieroglyphs which needed translation, butwhich were assumed to be eternally elusive; and in this sametradition, Irwin quotes Oegger’s view of man as the “truehieroglyph of the Divinity.”6 Therefore, inscrutability had alingering appeal, and any efforts at decipherment would haveoperated in tension with that appeal. In other words, too muchinterpretation could detract from the divine quality in thesevisible symbols. Any advances in decoding the Egyptian holywritings would have diminished their sacred appeal and further69demeaned the book as symbol at the same time as it would havedevalued the role of the interpreter--at least of visible texts.Therefore, writers like Emerson and Thoreau, who were operatingas interpreters in the Romantic tradition, were under the stressof needing to maintain the sacred quality of certain mysteriesat the same time as they were attempting to solve them. One wayof resolving this tension was to portray Nature as having avoice, thus providing a much more elusive text.Before examining Nature’s metaphoric system, I want toestablish an overview of what Samuel Levin has called the text’s“metaphoric world”7 and to get a sense of its larger ‘order ofunderstanding’.Nature and the God WithinUnlike many of Emerson’s essays, which were first deliveredas lectures, Nature was intended for a reading audience, yet ithas an overall oral quality. Just as the title of another oneof his works forecasts, in Nature the “Young Emerson Speaks”(emphasis added), and the resulting speech act is a secularprayer, which ranges from a petition of need to a psalm ofpraise. In the Introduction, Emerson uses the first personplural and joins with the reader in asking, “Let us interrogatethe great apparition, that shines so peacefully around us. Letus inquire to what end is nature?” (7). In the succeeding sevensections, Emerson proceeds to answer this query with a litany ofbeliefs. While its logical development and length mark thediscourse as a formal essay, its devout, dignified tone makes70the piece more religious oratory. The sublime subjects ofNature, creation, God, and destiny deserve sublime treatment,which they dutifully receive. Emerson is confident in explicating man’s relationship to God and believes that “undoubtedlywe have no questions . . . which are unanswerable” (7).His faith in intuition is strong, and his attitude earnestas he goes about reducing vast abstractions to simple truths:man and Nature are kindred spirits; Nature serves man with dailynecessities, beauty, a symbolic language, and a discipline ofthe highest faculty; and it is the relationship between man andNature that prompts truth. In calling for “an original relationto the universe” and “a Poetry and philosophy of insight and notof tradition” (7), Emerson insists on the unmediated process ofintuition and rejects a reliance on sensory information orrational reasoning. Since his contentions are often expressedaphoristically, they emerge as dogmas and, taken together, theyform the Emersonian creed. From the initial warning that “Ourage is retrospective” to the summary judgment that “A man is agod in ruins,” there is a chanting effect obtained. The form ofEmerson’s essay works like Nature itself: It inspires like aprayerful poem, and it gives instruction like a scripturalreading. In both cases, the overall effect is that of thespoken word.In keeping with its devout voice, the essay proposesspiritual themes. Although it is written mostly in secularlanguage, Nature testifies to a “religion by revelation” and to71a belief in the “Me,” that part of human nature which shares inthe divine--the God within (7-8). Although Emerson emphasizesthe potential that language has for accessing knowledge of thisinner, divine self because language provides a way ofinterpreting “particular natural facts [which) are symbols ofparticular spiritual facts” (17), he admits its inadequacy tocompletely convey spiritual truth. In his Introduction, hepoints to the unreliability of human language and acknowledgesits mystery when he names some of the phenomena that “arethought not only unexplained but inexplicable; as language,sleep, madness, dreams, beasts, [and] sex” (8). Language’splacement first in the sequence indicates its primacy inEmerson’s view, and the nature of the other items in this listaccentuates its enigmatic quality. He characterizes languageas unreliable and not subject to human control.Furthermore, words can not completely convey the kind ofintuited truth that he seeks because they can not preciselytranslate the inner Spirit which must be experienced directly,without any mediating agent. As Emerson admits, “Words arefinite organs of the infinite mind. They cannot cover thedimensions of what is in truth. They break, chop, andimpoverish it” (28). Therefore, he faces the dilemma ofarguing that by interpreting the text of the natural world usingthe language of convention, man has a gloss for understandingthe God within, at the same time that he acknowledges theultimate inadequacy of language to perform this translation of72the Spirit.In creating a metaphoric system that revolves around twobasic metaphors of word, Emerson works to resolve this dilemmaof how to reconcile language’s epistemic merit with itsinadequacy. My aim is to use the experiential—gestalt accountof metaphor, as established by George Lakoff and Mark Johnson,to demonstrate how his use of two coherent metaphors providestextual systematicity. The structural metaphor RATIONALUNDERSTANDING IS READING argues for the rational interpretationof the natural text, and the analagous structural metaphorINTUITIVE UNDERSTANDING IS LISTENING argues for an intuitedinterpretation of the natural text.8 While the reading metaphordraws on the symbolic authority of the book, the listeningmetaphor taps into the symbolic authority of the voice and thusis privileged in Emerson’s scheme.In analyzing these two basic metaphors, I am relying onLakoff and Johnson’s provision for viewing metaphor as part ofa conceptual system and language as a source of evidence forthis conceptual framework (3). I will continue to adopt theirconvention of using all capitals to indicate conceptualmetaphors and of using quotation marks and block quotations forparticular linguistic items drawn verbatim from the texts. Fromnow on, instead of including “emphasis added” each time I citea linguistic form that expresses a metaphor of word, I willsimply italicize all the quoted expressions which refer tolanguage imagery. Important to keep in mind is the premise that73conceptual metaphors emerge from experiencing a whole discourseand not merely from single linguistic units. As theexperiential theory proposes, the linguistic expressions simplyprovide a source of evidence for a whole cognitive system. I amemploying Lakoff and Johnson’s practice of using the mostspecific metaphorical concept——in this case the two basicmetaphors——to characterize a whole conceptual system (9).Through subcategorization, I will investigate those metaphorswhich are entailed by the basic metaphors, what Levin has termed“satellite metaphors”,9 and which, when taken together,constitute a coherent metaphorical system, as provided for byLakoff and Johnson (9).Given this theoretical foundation, I will continue thisexperiential analysis of the metaphorics of word in Nature byexamining the reading structural metaphor more closely. InRATIONAL UNDERSTANDING IS READING, what we know about theprocess of reading structures how we think about the process oflogical reasoning. This metaphor allows Emerson to describe howwe can understand the natural world, the past, and human naturein terms of how we read. Therefore, RATIONAL UNDERSTANDING ISREADING entails that NATURE, HISTORY, and HUMAN LIVES ARE BOOKS,which entails that THE WRITER IS A READER. Together, thesemetaphors highlight the acquisition of knowledge through sensoryinformation and logical reasoning.Let us consider RATIONAL UNDERSTANDING IS READING as itoperates as a structural metaphor, allowing us to think of one74experience in terms of another. Therefore, RATIONALUNDERSTANDING IS READING allows us to conceptualize thereasoning process in terms of the reading process, so that ourconception of reasoning is grounded in our experience ofreading. Noteworthy is the fact that twentieth-centuryorality/literacy theorists have confirmed this connectionbetween abstract reasoning and literacy.10 Adopting theexperiential vocabulary as used by Lakoff and Turner, I willtrace how certain aspects of the source domain (reading) aremapped onto the target domain (reasoning) in order to discernwhat understanding is gained about the nature of rationalthinking (38). Such a mapping assumes certain knowledge aboutthe source domain, so I will begin with a discussion of thispresupposed knowledge by examining the mental framework of thereading process and some aspects of that conceptual domain.To understand reasoning as a reading process is to keep inmind certain basic correspondences: between a thinker and areader, between the truth and the text, and between the mind andthe eyes. As Lakoff and Turner remark, such mentalcorrespondences may be conscious but are more likelyunconscious, at least for the receiver of the metaphor (62).However, as I note in my first chapter, coleridge suggests thatthese correspondences more likely are conscious for the user ofthe metaphor. Either way, the metaphor relies on them, andunderstanding the metaphor relies on understanding the structureof the source domain. At first glance, reading seems like a75simple enough domain. Important to emphasize here, however, isthat the nineteenth—century understanding of the reading processwas much different from ours. Before reader—response theory andbefore we understood that reading is a transactive process,reading was perceived as a matter of mere decoding. Certaininformation existed in the text, on the page, and it was thereader’s task to find it. Reading was understood as a strictlinear process where the eyes moved from left to right, and allinformation was received in that order. In contrast with ourmodern understanding, reading was perceived as a tidy, linearprocess by which a reader obtained meaning from the language ofthe printed text, but did not bring meaning to it. In thisview, readers were considered passive recipients of meaningcontained in books.” It is this nineteenth—century perceptionof reading that was operant in the texts under study here.With this scheme in mind, let us consider RATIONALUNDERSTANDING IS READING as it is reflected in Nature and how itimplies a criticism of the prevailing cognitive model. The roleof this metaphor is signaled right away in the epigram whichdescribes a process by which “The eye reads omens where itgoes,” thus eliciting the reading domain. Then in the veryfirst line of the Introduction, Emerson establishes the premiseof his essay by appropriating the aspect of the thinker-asreader in the expression “Our age is retrospective” (7), whichworks metonymically. Here the metonymy provides for a timeperiod to represent a whole nation of readers who take as their76text the past and who read backwards. Emerson’s use of thismetonymy suggests a critique of the prevailing reading process.Since the current reading process provided for movingsequentially, forwards not backwards, Emerson is criticizing thethinkers of his age for improper reading by looking to the past.Evident is the satellite ontological metaphor HISTORY IS A BOOK,which is coherent with UNDERSTANDING IS READING. In this way,Emerson begins his essay with an indictment of his “readers” forlooking to history as a source of truth and suggests that abetter text exists, setting the stage for his reading of Natureas that text.NATURE IS A WRITING/BOOK is reflected in many expressions:Every man’s condition is a solution in hieroglyphic(7)We mean the integrity of impression made by manifoldnatural objects (9)Forms [in nature) . . . furnish man with thedictionary and grammar of his municipal speech (21)A life in harmony with nature . . . will purge theeyes to understand her text (23)so that the world shall be to us an open book (23)Therefore the soul holds itself of f from a too trivialand microscopic study of the universal tablet (36)The ruin or the blank, that we see when we look atnature, is in our own eye. (43)Interesting here is the fact that except for the firstexpression which refers to human nature, all the other itemsrepresent the truth of the natural world as an understandabletext——”an open book”——to the careful reader. In contrast, the77first expression, which refers to the truth about human nature,is represented as undecipherable——a “hieroglyphic.” Thismetaphor entails unreadability and, thus, suggests thatunderstanding human nature calls for some other process besidesthe rational/reading one.Useful here in discerning what that superior process mightbe is a consideration of the mind—as—eyes correspondence whichis evident in Emerson’s expression “The eye reads omens where itgoes” (7). This synecdochic relationship between the eye andthe reader highlights the idea of part-for-whole, suggestingthat the eyes represent only part of the whole reader’sfaculties and, therefore, that the mind represents only part ofthe human’s capacity for understanding. Given the tone andtheme of Emerson’s work, the use of synecdoche reinforces theinadequacy of a process which uses only part of a person’spotential in seeking truth. In highlighting this inadequacy,the metaphor forecasts the need for some kind of process thatwill involve more than just reasoning.Emerson uses eye imagery again to point to a superior,unifying process when he describes the poet as one “whose eyecan integrate all the parts” (9). The reading metaphor works tocreate a contrast between the masses who use their eyes merelyto observe the past, and the poet who sees and reconcilesdiscordances simultaneously. The poet, in his role asinterpreter, is represented as the most skillful reader becauseof the unusual way his eyes work. This characterization of the78writer as adept reader is also evident in the expression “as theeye is the best composer” (12). With this expression, Emersondistinguishes between the ineffective way the common personreads and the successful literacy of the poet. Since “few adultpersons can see nature” (9), it is up to the poet to read thenatural text correctly and ultimately to decipher the humanhieroglyph. By undermining the definition of “reading,” Emersonalso undermines the stability of UNDERSTANDING IS READINGbecause the Emersonian kind of reading calls for somethingbesides the traditional understanding of sequential reading andintimates an epistemic need for something besides logicalreasoning.In addition to extending the meaning of UNDERSTANDING ISREADING, Emerson also uses a second structural metaphor toaccommodate his conceptual scheme: UNDERSTANDING IS LISTENING,where understanding is intuitive. Drawing on the symbolicimport of the voice, this metaphor provides for a perception ofintuition as an oral exchange and establishes correspondencesbetween a thinker and a listener, between truth and speech, andbetween the mind and the ears. In contrast to the readingmetaphor, this listening metaphor provides for a morecomplicated mapping. While the reading process entails avisible, written text, the listening process entails aninvisible exchange between speaker and listener and does notresult in a visible text. This contrast is evident in thedifference between the satellite ontological metaphors that79result: In one, NATURE IS A BOOK; in the other, NATURE IS ASPEAKER. As Lakoff and Johnson point out, personifications likethis one are extended ontological metaphors, and they enable usto understand the world in human terms (34). As a result, thelistening metaphor highlights the human being in a way that thereading metaphor does not, and NATURE IS A SPEAKER callsattention to the human capacity to use language.A survey of the expressions that Emerson chooses toreflect the listening metaphor will help to point up additionaldifferences between the two controlling metaphors. Along witheliciting the reading metaphor in the epigram, Emerson alsoevokes the listening metaphor so that “The eye reads omens whereit goes, / And speaks all languages the rose” (7). Here Nature,in the form of the rose, is personified as an omnilingualspeaker. And in the Introduction, when Emerson directs hisinquiry to “the great apparition that shines so peacefullyaround us” (7), Emerson implies that his question is addressedto some “great,” divine force in Nature, as indicated by thetraditional Biblical associations between God and a shininglight. The result is that God is represented as a voice thatspeaks through Nature.Furthermore, Emerson’s expressions provide much evidencethat this process involves a conversation between God and man,via Nature:His [the human’s] intercourse with heaven and earth,becomes part of his daily food (1.9)80Thus is nature an interpreter, by whose means manconverses with his fellow men (IV.20)She [Nature) pardons no mistakes. Her yea is yea,and her nay is nay (V.24)every animal function . . . shall . . . echo the TenCommandments (V.26)It [the Spirit) says . . . (V.28)It [Nature] is the great organ through which theuniversal spirit speaks to the individual. (VII.37)These expressions reflect a cognitive model in which the humanbeing comes to understand spiritual truths through an exchangewith the divine force embodied in nature. The Spirit in theexternal world speaks to the Spirit in the internal worldthrough the mouth of Nature. Thus, Emerson provides for thepoet as a translator of Nature, which is a translator of theSpirit.This three—way exchange is represented not only as speech,but also as song in expressions such as these:the power to produce this delight, does not reside innature, but in man, or in a harmony of both (1.10)a life in harmony with nature . . . will purge theeyes (IV.23)The law of harmonic sounds reappears in the harmoniccolors (V.27)Some traditions of man and nature, which a certainpoet sang to me (VIII.41)Thus my Orphic poet sang (VIII.42)So shall the advancing spirit . . . carry with it thebeauty of its visits, and the song which enchants it.(VIII. 45)The structure of the listening metaphor UNDERSTANDING IS81LISTENING highlights the dynamics of an exchange and thus shiftsthe emphasis from the source of truth to the process ofdiscovering truth. Furthermore, because Emerson’s listeningexpressions do not call attention to the ears in the way thatthe analagous reading expressions focus on the eyes, attentionis called not to the auditory apparatus, but rather to the wholeprocess of perception. The implication here is that the kind ofunderstanding entailed by UNDERSTANDING IS LISTENING involvesthe whole person, not just the ears/mind. For this reason, thelistening metaphor works to structure a way of understanding theintuitive process by which truth is apprehended directly,without any mediating apparatus.While UNDERSTANDING IS READING highlights the sense oforder that results from viewing the world rationally,UNDERSTANDING IS LISTENING accentuates the sense of harmony thatcomes from attending to the world intuitively. Specifically,the reading metaphor portrays truth as a bounded entity that canbe scanned and interpreted, and the listening metaphorrepresents truth as a dynamic exchange between God, Nature, andman where truth “does not reside” in any one of them, but ratheremerges from the translative process. The reading metaphorrelies on the integrity of the written record; the listeningmetaphor relies on the authority of the inner Spirit of the poetto translate, not a finished record, but an evolving text. ThatEmerson extends the listening metaphor to music, with itsassociations of lyricism and harmony, suggests his preference82for this intuitive model of understanding. While the coherencyof the two metaphors affirms that both kinds of understandingare compatible and useful in coming to terms with the world, thelistening metaphor is more in keeping with the tenets ofRomanticism as it applies to the Transcendental epistemic view.In Emerson’s metaphoric scheme, listening affords better accessto the God within because it highlights intuitive insight.Emerson’s elevation of the spoken word via the listeningmetaphor is compatible with his general denigration of thewritten word. In “The American Scholar,” he expresses hisdisdain for the worship of books as a kind of corruption. Inadvocating “Man Thinking,” Emerson questions a reliance on booksand scorns “man reading” as the “bookworm.”2 He elevates thespoken word by associating the speaking poet with God: “Thepoet chanting was felt to be a divine and; henceforth the chantis divine also.”3 In Emerson’s scheme, since the book ofreason is replaced by the voice of intuition as the primaryepistemic authority, reading is displaced by listening as theprimary metaphor.However, not even the listening metaphor can compensate forthe inadequacy of language to completely represent the processof understanding spiritual truth. Emerson points to thefragility of the translative process in describing how man“forges the subtile and delicate air into wise and melodiouswords and gives them wing as angels of persuasion” (293).Translation of the divine life force is an interpretive move83which results in some new form, and words provide that alternateform. Words can point to the discovery of spiritual truth, butthey do not constitute that truth.Walden and the ‘Private Au’Like Emerson, Thoreau assumes the interpretive role andlooks to the concrete particulars of the natural world forsymbols to translate the inner spirit. Like Emerson, he valuesthe language of convention for the way that it corresponds tothe language of Nature. And like Emerson, he portrays hishermeneutic role in terms of the listening process. However,the epistemic theme is realized differently by Thoreau becausewhile Emerson highlights the divine potential for moral insightin man, Thoreau emphasizes the human capacity for self—liberation. Troubled by the “lives of quiet desperation” thathe witnesses around him, he addresses the “mass of men who arediscontented” and who “have forged their own golden or silverfetters.”4 It is these self—imposed restrictions that he urgeshis readers to cast aside in coming to terms with the powerfulinner Spirit because “Public opinion is a weak tyrant comparedwith our own private opinion” (7). Using his own act ofliberation at Walden Pond as an exemplum, he outlines a processof self—emancipation, but insists that each person must find hisown way.Author of his own spiritual declaration of independence,Thoreau believes that what is at the heart of his country’s84anguish is the individual’s pain: “that what so saddens thereformer is not his sympathy with his fellows in distress, butthough he be the holiest son of God, is his private au” (78).In Thoreau’s view, this private anguish can be assuaged only byattending to the self as the source of authority. When he says,“I hear an irresistible voice which invites me away from allthat” (10-11), he suggests that his source of spiritual power isan internal voice, rather than the external voices of hisneighbors.He characterizes his Transcendental role as a searcher ofself in terms of listening. Many of his days, he says, werespent “trying to hear what was in the wind, to hear and carry itexpress!” (17). He provides an analogue for this interpretiverole of the listening poet when he describes hearing the soundof church bells reverberating through the woods. He notes that“at a sufficient distance over the woods this sound acquires acertain vibratory hum” which came to him as “a melody which theair had strained, and which had conversed with every leaf andneedle of the wood” (123). Just as the sound of the bellsissues forth from the Church and resounds in harmony with thenatural world, so too does the power of the person emanateoutward to mingle with Nature--a melody which can be heard bythose receptive to its ‘vibratory hum’. Thoreau affirms thecreative nature of this interpretive role when he describes howthe sound heard in the natural world is somehow original withthe listener: “The echo is, to some extent, an original sound,85and therein is the magic and charm of it. It is not merely arepetition of what was worth repeating in the bell, but partlythe voice of the wood” (123). Being able to hear these echoesthroughout the natural world so clearly that “they were atlength one articulation of Nature” is Thoreau’s special creativefaculty. Magically as it were, hearing the sound as one unifiedmelody constitutes a creative act in itself and the main work ofthe intuitive poet.Throughout, Walden provides for an elevation of thepersonal spoken word and a diminishment of the public writtenword. While he professes an admiration for books, Thoreau’scomments continually undermine that esteem. He devotes anentire chapter to “Reading,” and spends considerable timecriticizing the common method of “easy reading.” Instead ofreading the best literature, most people content themselves withlight reading-—a habit which Thoreau discounts as just anotherform of illiteracy. Despite Thoreau’s campaign for reading thegreat works of literature, however, and though he calls “awritten word the choicest of relics” and “the work of artnearest to life itself” (118), he admits that he spends littleor no time reading. In the days after moving into Walden, henotes that he “read but little” and the scraps of paper which hefound on the ground “answered the same purpose as the Iliad”(45). curiously, he condemns others for easy reading but countsthese scraps of paper as having the same effect as the classicGreek poem, and that effect, he says, is “entertainment.” In86this way, reading is portrayed only as an entertainingdiversion.In contrast, throughout the account of his days on WaldenPond, he attends to the sounds of his world and implies thatlistening is his main occupation. When he listens from hiswindow seat to the sound of birds which “gives a voice to theair” (114), he affirms his talent for hearing the “onearticulation of Nature.” Not only does he listen attentively tothe voice of Nature, he also records his alertness to humannature and often tells of his conversations with others. Forexample, his frequent visits with a Canadian wood-chopperillustrate how books are not nearly as important as the talkabout them. Even though the woodsman does not even read thebooks he professes to admire, Thoreau enjoys their talks aboutliterature and at times he even reads Homer aloud to thewoodsman (144—145). Elsewhere, he expresses his delight intalking with nearby farmers to each of whom he “took his wordfor his deed, for I dearly love to talk,” he admits (81). Hishigh regard for conversation is revealed humorously in hiscomplaint about the problem of a small house because itrestricts the space for conversations with his visitors, for“when we began to utter the big thoughts in big words” (140).Unlike written correspondence which is usually not worth itspostage and unlike the newspaper which delivers all the samenews (94), talking is important to Thoreau.These recurring references to the value of conversations87are not merely incidental to Walden; they constitute one of itsfundamental themes. In his role as interpreter, Thoreau seeksto articulate his personal sojourn into the self by listening tothe living sounds around him. In his search to release theinner person from self—tyranny, Thoreau wants a guiding textthat can “not only be read but actually breathed from all humanlips” (102). This insistence on vocalizing the living,breathing spirit is one way to express the liberation process.Therefore, despite his stated regard for the written word, hiseffort to soothe the private au necessarily leads him to theliving spoken word and to the voice as a controlling symbol.Given this overview of the text, I want to examine howUNDERSTANDING IS READING works in Walden to structure the roleof rational thinking in Thoreau’s project of self-liberation.Because this emancipation process requires rejecting theimposition of external authority, reading imagery becomesassociated with attending to some influence outside of the self.Thoreau urges his readers to transcend the role of mere observerby using insight, and his challenge implies a rejection oftraditional reasoning: “Will you be a reader, a student merely,or a seer?” (ill). With this expression Thoreau indicates hisconcern with intuition and evokes the reading metaphor and, likeEmerson, calls for some process besides ordinary reading, somekind of interior reading.Alluding to the decoding of Egyptian writings, Thoreauquestions whether anyone, expert or not, can interpret someone88else’s inner Spirit: “The Maker of this earth but patented aleaf. What Champollion will decipher this hieroglyphic for us,that we may turn over a new leaf at last?” (308). In mappingthe reading process onto the domain of self—knowledge,correspondences emerge between Champollion and Thoreau asdecoders, between a hieroglyphic and a sense of self, andbetween turning a page and making a life change. EchoingEmerson’s description of “Every man’s condition” as “a solutionin hieroglyphic,” Thoreau characterizes the human puzzle asultimately undecipherable. However, while Emerson emphasizesthe inability to access satisfactorily the divine aspect of man,Thoreau highlights the challenge of discerning personal destiny.By questioning the authority of any outside interpreter, Thoreaureinforces his contention that we are our own best experts andthat no external authority can do the deciphering for us.In this same passage, Thoreau uses writing imagery todemean the rational view even further by displacing theontological metaphor NATURE IS A BOOK: “The earth is not a merefragment of dead history, stratum upon stratum like the leavesof a book . . . but living poetry” (309). In calling thenatural world a “living” text, he evokes a listening metaphor,saying that the word may “not only be read but actually breathedfrom all human lips” (102). In this scheme, UNDERSTANDING ISLISTENING and NATURE IS A VOICE. Curiously, it is in a passageostensibly praising the written word as the “choicest of relics”that he implies a privileging of speech because he argues that89the value of the written word is that it is “carved out of thebreath of life itself” (102). Echoing Calvin’s praise of theBible in terms of God’s voice, Thoreau implies that the writtenword is to be treasured because it represents the living, humanvoice. Once again, Thoreau’s professed regard for books isundermined by imagery which points to the primacy of the spokenword.The alignment between listening and the process ofacquiring a sense of self is revealed in a striking way inChapter Two, when Thoreau describes being awakened by thelyrical sounds of morning. In this analogue, the listeningmetaphor serves to portray the liberation of the sleeping self.This renewal process is termed a “religious exercise”——thuspointing to the spiritual awakening that transpires, and thevoice imagery highlights the intuitive process at work:I was as much affected by the faint hum of a mosquitomaking its invisible and unimaginable tour through myapartment at earliest dawn, when I was sitting withdoor and widows open, as I could be by any trumpetthat ever sang of fame. It was Homer’s requiem;itself an Iliac! and Odyssey in the air, singing itsown wrath and wanderings. There was somethingcosmical about it. . . . The morning, which is themost memorable season of the day, is the awakeninghour. . . . Little is to be expected of that dayto which we are not awakened by our Genius, are not awakened by our own newly—acquiredforce and aspirations from within, accompanied by theundulations of celestial music. . . . All poets andheroes, like Memnon, are the children of Aurora andemit their music at sunrise. (89)In this passage, self—awareness is portrayed as a process oflistening to the voice from within in the midst of thesurrounding cosmic music. The listening metaphor works to90represent how spiritual truth issues from the inner self andharmonizes with a similar force in the natural world. LikeEmerson, Thoreau uses musical expressions to reflect the kind of“life in harmony with nature” that results from attending to theinner Spirit as voiced in the exterior world (23).This same kind of harmony recurs in a passage in thechapter “Higher Laws” when Thoreau recalls the incident of JohnFarmer. Farmer, who sits down in the doorway of his house “torecreate his intellectual man,” is described as if he were afabricated embodiment of intuition, an Everyman engaged in theprocess of discerning his place in the world by listening to theouter music of the material world and the inner voice ofrevealed truth:He had not attended to the train of his thoughts longwhen he heard someone playing on a flute, and thatsound harmonized with his mood. . . . But the notesof the flute came home to his ears out of a differentsphere from that he worked in, and suggested work forcertain faculties which slumbered in him. . . . Avoice said to him,--Why do you stay here and live thismean moiling life, when a glorious existence ispossible for you? (222)Once again, the listening metaphor is appropriated to expressthe highest form of understanding which results from carefulattention to the inner and outer voices.To the careful listener, Nature speaks in harmonious tones.The harmony, however, does not reside in natural sounds; ratherit results from a perceptive listening. Like Emerson’s poet whocan read with an integrative eye, Thoreau’s Farmer can listenwith a unifying ear. Just as listening to the sound of the91bells in the woods resulted in an echo that was “original,” sotoo does each person’s individual perception of outsideinfluences prompt an original inward response. And it is thisunique echo that Thoreau insists upon when he says that “If aman does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it isbecause he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the musicwhich he hears, however measured or far away” (326).Thoreau’s privileging of the listening metaphor is evidentin the ongoing attention he pays to natural sounds. In thechapter devoted to “Sounds,” he begins with a caution aboutattending only to the book of Nature and a challenge to rememberher voice: “But while we are confined to books, though the mostselect and classic, . .. we are in danger of forgetting thelanguage which all things and events speak” (emphasis mine,111). In continually evoking the listening process, Thoreaureminds us of certain correspondences: between the poet—interpreter and the listener, between truth and the voice, andbetween the ears and the mind.The frequent expressions involving the voices of naturalcreatures remind us to heed these sounds as echoes of spiritualtruth:such a sound [hooting owl’s] as the frozen earthwould yield if struck with a suitable plectrum, thevery lingua vernacula of Walden Wood (272)he [a squirrel] would be soliloquizing and talking toall the universe (274)He [the hunter] stood still and listened to their [thehounds’] music, so sweet to a hunter’s ear. (278)92Since Thoreau spends more time listening to these ordinary,everyday utterances than he does reading books, the voiceemerges as the valued symbol both in the wooded world of Waldenand in the metaphorical world of Walden. Thoreau’s translativeprocess calls for attending to the voice of Nature because theprocess of listening is so closely associated with the intuitiveprocess. And it is the listening process, not the ears or thelistener, that is highlighted in Thoreau’s choice of words.Thoreau’s autobiographical account constitutes a model ofself—emancipation, by which a person can translate natural factsinto spiritual facts, as a way of coming to terms with the innerself and of understanding the individual’s place in relationshipto the world. UNDERSTANDING IS READING entails a logical,reasoned view of these external forces and while such a viewdoes provide information, it is epistemologically dissatisfyingbecause the world is not like a book but is “living poetry.”Therefore, this perspective is displaced by UNDERSTANDING ISLISTENING which provides a mental framework for tapping into theintuitive process by which the vitality of natural forces can beattended to. The very difference between the physical nature ofeyes and that of ears highlights a contrast between these twoprocesses. Because the ears are actual openings, they seem toprovide more of a direct entry into the interior self. In thisway, listening more accurately represents the intuitive processof unmediated perception. Furthermore, listening, with itsassociations to obedience, more closely aligns itself with the93human’s need to stay true to the self: “to maintain himself inwhatever attitude he finds himself through obedience to the lawsof his being” (323). Intuition, as represented by listening,prompts such an ‘attitude’.Overall, Thoreau’s metaphoric system gives priority to thevoice as symbol and to listening as controlling metaphor. Hestates a philosophical rationale for his linguistic choices whenhe discusses his need for “Extra vagrance.” Because he worriesthat his expression “may not wander far enough beyond the narrowlimits” of his personal experience, he desires to speak “withoutbounds,” to be “extra vagrant.” He indicates that a writer’smanner of expression should reflect the elusive nature of truth:“The volatile truth of our words should continually betray theinadequacy of the residual statement” (325). For this reason,the bounded book is too confining an image to convey Thoreau’sliberation project. Instead, the voice is more fitting; itallows for the necessary extra vagrance because it has novisible boundaries and, thus, it contributes to a more accuraterepresentation of the dynamic process of spiritual emancipation.Self—liberation, in Thoreau’s portrayal, requires speakingimagery because it leaves no trace——no ‘residual statement’——andthus must be re—enacted by each sojourning soul.’5Translation and the Dilemma of Expressed LanguageAn analysis of the metaphorics of Nature and Walden hasrevealed how the two structural metaphors of reading andlistening operate to represent the translative process, by which94we come to understand the nature of the interior Spirit byattending to its expression in the exterior world. Thishermeneutic task involves two kinds of thinking: reasoning andintuiting. The rational process is understood via UNDERSTANDINGIS READING, and the intuitive process is presented viaUNDERSTANDING IS LISTENING. As a function of these twometaphors, the process of using language serves as a sourcedomain for the process of understanding the self, thushighlighting the discovery process. For Emerson and Thoreau,the main value of language is in terms of this epistemicprocess, a role which Emerson describes in “The Poet”: “Alllanguage is vehicular and transitive, and is good, as ferriesand horses are, for conveyance, not as farms and houses are, forhomestead.”6 Emerson repeats this emphasis on process when hesays of Nature (in the section titled “Commodity”): “Nature, inits ministry to man, is not only the material, but is also theprocess and the result” (111, emphasis added). Because of theestablished correspondence between the language of Nature andthe language of convention, this same emphasis on processapplies to both symbol systems. Therefore, the process of usinglanguage is appropriate for representing the ongoing process ofarticulating the human Spirit. The final effect of thismetaphorical system is to portray truth as inaccessible, as wellas to represent language as epistemic. Both knowledge andlanguage are forever on the move.One feature of this metaphorics of word that has not been95accounted for is the role of metacognition. Since in theRomantic portrayal of the translative process, the Spirit isevident in the outward world only if it is first realized withinthe self, how is this original self-awareness of the Soulknowing itself to be represented? Once the Spirit is sent forthfrom the individual soul, it has an audible quality--an echo.How can the self-realization of the Spirit be represented beforeit issues forth? In Emersonian terms, how does a metaphorics ofword portray the recognition of the “Me” by the “Me”? InThoreavian terms, how does a metaphorics of word represent theSoul listening to itself singing? Since the listening metaphorentails that sounds need to be audible in order to be heard,this mental scheme is strained to provide for any representationof self—conscious self—knowledge. A resolution to this dilemmalies in the references to “mute” Nature. It is not the voice inNature that is silent, but rather the understanding of the poetthat is inexpressible and hence silent. Chapter six will bedevoted to discussing how this satellite of the listeningmetaphor, which I am terming “expressed silence” and whichoperates in all four texts, provides for representing this self—awareness. But first, I want to move on to how Hawthorne’s textappropriates the same two structural metaphors in his literaryproject, as he shifts the thematic focus to the relationshipbetween the self and others.96Chapter 3 Notes1. Quoted by John Shawcross in his Introduction to BiographiaLiteraria, p. xxxviii. All subsequent page citations are inthe text.2. George Lakoff and Mark Turner, More Than Cool Reason: AField Guide to Poetic Metaphor, p. 146. All subsequent pagecitations are in the text.3. Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nature, The Collected Works of RalphWaldo Emerson, v.1, p. 18. All subsequent page citationsare in the text.4. See John Irwin, American Hieroglyphics: The Symbol of theEgyptian Hieroglyphic in the American Renaissance, pp. 9-13,for a summary of this activity.5. Irwin, American Hieroglyphics 9.6. Irwin, American Hieroglyphics 25.7. See Samuel Levin, Metaphoric Worlds: Conceptions of aRomantic Nature, pp. ix—x, for a discussion of this term“metaphoric world.”8. See my Chapter 1, pp 19-21, for a discussion of how thesetwo basic metaphors of word emerge as text—specific versionsof the root metaphor UNDERSTANDING IS SEEING.9. Levin, Metaphoric Worlds 5.10. See Erik Havelock, Origins of Western Literacy, for adiscussion of how the Greek alphabet restructured Greekthinking. See Walter Ong, Orality and Literacy: TheTechnologizing of the Word, for a comprehensive treatmentof how literacy is aligned with analytical, abstractthinking and how orality is connected with aggregate,concrete thinking.11. See Frank Smith’s Understanding Reading and Reading WithoutNonsense for discussions of the twentieth—centurytransactive model of the reading process.12. Ralph Waldo Emerson, “The American Scholar,” The CollectedWorks of Ralph Waldo Emerson, v.1, p. 56.13. Emerson, “The American Scholar,” The Collected Works ofRalph Waldo Emerson 56.9714. Henry David Thoreau, The Illustrated Walden, p. 16. Allsubsequent page citations are in the text.15. It is striking how Thoreau’s discussion of “extra vagrance”forecasts William Covino’s description of rhetoric as “theart of wondering.” An acknowledgement to Judy Segal(University of British Columbia) for mentioning thisconnection. See The Art of Wondering: A RevisionistReturn to the History of Rhetoric, p. 128, for a definitionof rhetoric “as a theory of discourse that devaluescertainty and closure while it celebrates the generativepower of the imagination.”16. Emerson, “The Poet” in The Collected Works of Ralph WaldoEmerson, v. III, p. 20.98CHAPTER 4‘THE TONGUE OF FLAME’ IN THE SCARLET LETTERA Human RubricWhile the literary voices of Emerson and Thoreau serve astranslators of the Spirit via the natural world, Hawthorne’ssympathy lies more with human nature. As he notes in hisintroductory chapter of The Scarlet Letter, during the time whenhe wrote the novel, he felt an indifference for worldly things--for books and even “Nature,-—except it were human nature.”1 Asits conspicuous placement in the title suggests, the image ofthe scarlet letter serves as the controlling symbol of his workand signals a concern with both language and people. Relying onthe original meaning of “text,” he uses the “woven” fabric ofthe letter to interlace both linguistic and human forms: theembroidered “A” in the cloth that Hester wore and the embodiedone in the child that she bore. Since his concerns are bothaesthetic and epistemic and,, as the etymology of “rubric”(originally, “rubrica” for “red writing” used for bothdecoration and emphasis) suggests, Hawthorne fashions a moraland emotional rubric.2His Scarlet Letter, inscribed on the written pages of thenovel and illustrated in the human texts of its characters,symbolizes human passion and is meant to be red/read for bothpleasure and instruction. He professes an hermeneutic role when99he calls attention to the significance of the cloth letter foundin “The Custom House”: “Certainly, there was some deep meaningin it, most worthy of interpretation, and which, as it were,streamed forth from the mystic symbol, subtly communicatingitself to my sensibilities, but evading the analysis of my mind”(28). Like his Transcendental predecessors, he exhibits whatMatthiessen has called the “tendency of mind” in these Americanwriters to privilege spiritual meaning and an “American bias” tosearch for spiritual significance in every material fact (242).As Matthiessen also points out, this tendency came “fromthe Christian habit of mind that saw the hand of God in allmanifestations of life,” and it became exaggerated in theCalvinist preoccupation with reading all phenomena for signs ofpredestination (243). Furthermore, Charles Feidelson hasemphasized that this American proclivity for symbolism “is agoverning principle: not a stylistic device, but a point ofview” thus making interpretation itself the essential theme ofthese texts.3 However, while Emerson and Thoreau seek tointerpret material signs as symbols of the Spirit, Hawthorneseeks to understand the human heart and how emotional integrityrequires a sympathy for self and for others. My maincontention, in terms of metaphorics, is that the displacement ofthe reading metaphor by the listening metaphor in The ScarletLetter calls for an adjustment of the whole interpretive projectby highlighting the dangers of an over-reliance on visible signsas symbols of spiritual meaning.100Just as the Transcendental role of translator required aknowledge of self and of the language of Nature, Hawthorne’sinterpretive role required certain credentials as well. Thisbackground knowledge is indicated when he remarks on the crypticnature of the scarlet cloth: “the stitch . . . gives evidenceof a now forgotten art” and not even “ladies conversant withsuch mysteries could unravel it” (27), making its deciphermentreliant on some expertise. Instead of a knowledge of naturalfacts, though, required here is a knowledge of the language ofthe heart: the “tongue of flame,” a language based on aknowledge of self and a sympathy with the human situation. Likehis two Transcendental predecessors, Hawthorne acknowledges hislinguistic credentials and professes a translative project.Reflecting the Calvinist inclination to read people forvisible signs of salvation or damnation, Hawthorne exploreshuman texts for indications of how they exchange emotionalmessages with one another. The resulting novel provides adescriptive grammar and dictionary for a language of the heart.With language itself emerging as a metaphor for the interpretiveprocess, the overall effect of The Scarlet Letter is aself—referential demonstration of how rhetoric is epistemic.The synecdochic use of the letter “A” to represent languageprompts an understanding of how using language results inchanging interpretations of meaning. Just as the scarlet letterassumes varying significations, so too does language in usegenerate varying perspectives.101This evolving meaning is a function of interpersonalrelationships. In the opening Custom House chapter, Hawthornecreates a sense of orality by establishing a relationship withhis audience that is more informal than formal, moreconversational than bookish. He is uncomfortable with using thewritten word as a vehicle for autobiographical self—indulgencesaddressed to the public and, instead, names his audience “thefew who will understand him” (6—7). He insists on an honestapproach: “Thoughts are frozen and utterance benumbed, unlessthe speaker stand in some true relationship with his audience”at the same time that he intends to “still keep the inmost Mebehind its veil” (7). With this statement of intent, heestablishes not only his own authorial stance, but alsocharacterizes the appropriate attitude for the speaker whowishes to speak from the heart: “Be true.”Hawthorne’s preference for an honest spoken voice over anartificial literary style is reflected in his choice of topicsas well. In addition to describing the value of a direct,conversational style, the first chapter demonstrates adegradation of the written word, including an account of histhwarted literary career, a denigration of public documents, anda regret over the low esteem of imaginative literature. He hasfound writing a disappointing venture and has given up any hopesof turning the letters “to gold upon the page,” apparentlyconfirming his failed literary career and his place as a mere“scribbler” (37). He laments the amount of worthless writing in102official documents, like the Custom House papers, especially incontrast with the creative manuscripts that other writers havedone and which have brought them no remuneration. With thisdeclared aversion to official accounts, he implies a need totranscend the letter of the law and to search for the personalhuman story behind the public records——to seek the true account.Metaphors of Word in ActionThis disparagement of the written word in the introductionprepares the reader for a story whose action is composed almostsolely of language acts. Important to my discussion of thistext is the understanding that the fictional form of this novelis given meaning by its operant metaphors of word. As Lakoffand Johnson contend, certain spatialization metaphors exist inour conceptualization system so that “MORE OF FORM IS MORE OFCONTENT” (127). Therefore, by extension to the metaphorics offiction, I am proposing that more of a certain language formstands for more of that language content, so that both in thecharacterization in the novel and in the action, listeningdisplaces reading, and intuition displaces reasoning. Theaction of the story is driven by the tension betweenwriting/reading and speaking/listening, with a correspondingtension between the letter of the law and the spirit of the law,thus reflecting the moral/emotional dilemma which operatesthroughout the novel. Initially, most of the members of thecommunity are constrained by writing, by the letter of the law,by Hester’s visible scarlet letter. As the story proceeds,103however, their interpretive skills are enhanced, and they become“able” to discern the quality of her heart by listening to oraltestimony about her and by observing her actions.Scott Harshbarger (1994) has termed Hawthorne’s narrativetechnique the “rhetoric of rumor,” saying that “it is throughthe process of legend making, begun in rumor, that the scarletletter gathers its symbolic resonance.”4 By characterizing thenarrative in these terms, Harshbarger affirms the essentialorality of the fictional action. Just as the townspeople piecetogether the truth about the anguished threesome by listening togossip, so too do readers stitch together the fabric of TheScarlet Letter by sorting through the rumors.Given this privileging of orality, the two structuralmetaphors of word, RATIONAL UNDERSTANDING IS READING andINTUITIVE UNDERSTANDING IS LISTENING, are given expression inthe actions of the fictional characters. Taken together, theiractions demonstrate a disparagement of literacy and an elevationof orality, resulting in a corresponding devaluing of rationalunderstanding and a privileging of intuitive understanding. AsHawthorne observes when he is contemplating the scarlet cloth,its meaning communicated itself subtly without “the analysis” ofhis mind. Furthermore, the value of intuition here is tofacilitate not so much a cognitive understanding as an affectiveone. While Emerson and Thoreau search for knowledge of theinner self, Hawthorne’s concern is with knowledge of theemotional relationship between people, and his fictional scheme104highlights the value of an intuitive process for coming to termswith human passion. Therefore, MORE OF LISTENING STANDS FORMORE OF INTUITIVE UNDERSTANDING. Throughout the novel, there isan insistence on people talking, with countless imperatives to“speak” and thus, for others, to listen. In the first scene,Governor Wilson commands Dimmesdale to “Speak to the woman” (52)and then more strongly to Hester says, “Speak out the name!”Then another voice from the crowd demands, “Speak, woman!Speak and give your child a father!” (52-53). Noteworthy hereis the confidence expressed in the speech act itself, as ifHester’s very articulation of Dimmesdale’s name would in itselffunction as an act of conception. The entire plot of the storyrelies on this need to SPEAK OUT: for Hester to name the fatherof her child, for Chillingworth to tell his true identity, andfor Dimmesdale to reveal the secret that destroys them all. Thedramatic and metaphorical tension in the story often resultsfrom the reluctance to speak in the face of these expectations.Understanding alone is insufficient in the scheme of the novel,and there is an insistence on articulation.THE VOICE FOR THE PERSONIn the metaphoric system of the story, people’s voicesrepresent their essential characters. As Lakoff and Johnsonexplain, our conceptual system has a special case of themetonymy THE PART FOR THE WHOLE, specifically, THE FACE FOR THEPERSON (37). Similarly, in the metaphorical system of TheScarlet Letter, THE VOICE FOR THE PERSON serves to structure our105understanding of characters and their corresponding qualities.This representation is evident from the very first chapter whenthe venerable old Custom house officials are described astalking “in voices between speech and a snore” (9), revealing ageneral assessment of these men as unenergetic bores. Attentionis called to Chillingworth’s voice early on when he expresseshis concern to Hester that Pearl will not recognize his voice,as if his voice stood for his entire self (55). From the verybeginning, Dimmesdale is characterized in terms of the qualityof his voice. Even before he appears, we are told that hiseffect on people is “like the speech of an angel,” and when hefirst speaks, most of the description is of his voice, which“was tremulously sweet, rich, deep, and broken” (52). Theextent of the descriptions of voice in the novel signals itssignificance generally and its importance in characterrevelation.THE VOICE FOR THE PERSON is especially evident in thedescription of Pearl’s voice, which is often her mostconspicuous trait. She is first described as having “one baby—voice” that served a multitude of imaginary personages,enabling her to mimic other voices. Pearl’s mimicry, then,enables her to represent all the children of passion, all thosewho struggle to voice their anguish, and the broad scope of herutterances demonstrates the extent of human attempts toarticulate that emotion. Her speech ranges wildly——fromshrieking to silence. For example, “with a terrific volume of106sound,” she routs two urchins who are harassing her (75), and in“The Governor’s Hall,” she responds to her mother with “aneldritch scream, and then became silent” (79). Her response toseeing Hester, Chillingsworth, and DinuTLesdale together for thefirst time is silence, followed by loud laughing and shouts(98). In the woods, she responds to her mother’s coaxing with“piercing shrieks” and wildly insists that the scarlet letterbe put back on. In the joyous spirit of the “New EnglandHoliday,” Pearl’s response to the festivities is to break out“continually into shouts of a wild, inarticulate, and sometimespiercing music” (162). Her frequently distorted speechindicates the intensity of emotional chaos that can seize thehuman heart, and the range of her vocalizing reflects the scopeof human attempts to articulate passion.In addition to Pearl’s characterization as Every—voice, thethree main characters are portrayed in terms of a tensionbetween writing and speaking, between the book and the voice.Chillingworth is associated with the book; Hester with thevoice, and Dimmesdale with a vacillation between the two, as heyearns to speak out, but keeps reverting to his bookish ways.The character of Chillingworth is aligned with writingimagery, as he embodies a perverse reliance on the letter of thelaw. The first description of the physician, when Hester standson the scaffold and sees into the past, points to hisidentification with books: a “pale, thin, scholar-like visage,with eyes dim and bleared by the lamplight that had served them107to pore over many ponderous books” (46). Even Chillingworthdeprecates his own book—learning when he stands talking to atownsman and says that Hester’s husband should have known betterhow to care for his wife: “should have learned thus too in hisbooks” (48). Even he seems to understand that books do notprovide the kind of understanding needed in this humanchallenge, but still he is incapable of acting otherwise. Inhis interview with Hester in prison, he acknowledges that he is“the book—worm of great libraries,——a man already in decay”(56). Although he vows to use “other senses” than do the pryingmultitudes, his concern is only with visible texts and he isincapable of hearing the language of the heart, as he promisesto seek out the truth of Pearl’s paternity just as he has“sought truth in books” (57). He is portrayed as a demonicbook-worm attempting to decipher the human hieroglyphics beforehim, but constrained by the visible signs. Lacking theThoreavian sense of “extra vagrance,” he is confined by hisliteracy; his learning is limited to the printed page, and he isemotionally illiterate when it comes to the text of the heart.In addition to the degradation associated with Chillingworth, heappears less frequently in the story, pointing to the devaluingof writing imagery: LESS OF A CHARACTER STANDS FOR LESS OF HISCONTENT.In contrast with Chillingworth, Hester represents thespirit of the law and is aligned with speaking imagery. Sheseems to understand that the scarlet “A” does not account for108all that she is, but is a mere “token” of her experience, notthe whole truth of it. She seems to know that the written wordis incapable of articulating the passion of the heart, that “Thescarlet letter had not done its office” (120). Her attempts tocreate her own text in her decorative needle work, both ongarments she sews for the socially prominent and on Pearl’sclothes, demonstrate her dissatisfaction with visible texts.And yet, for much of the novel, she struggles to speak. Whenshe first appears in “The Market Place,” the scenemetaphorically depicts her pre-verbal state. The crowd issilent or nearly so, but Hester “felt, at moments, as if shemust needs shriek out with the full power of her lungs” (45).But she is unable to voice her grief.Throughout the story, Hester’s emotional anguish isrepresented by tortured attempts to speak. Often while gazingat Pearl, Hester would cry out “with an agony which she wouldfain hath hidden, but which made utterance for itself, betwixtspeech and a groan” (71). This mixed utterance is an anguishedkind of speech that comes uncontrolled and works as a mixedmetaphor to represent the struggle to understand in the midst ofpain. Later, when she implores-Dimmesdale to “Speak though forme!” so that she might retain custody of Pearl, her speech ischaracterized as wild and only “a little less than madness”(83). Again, the altered speech works to represent theuncontrolled passion.It is not until the private conversation that she has with109Dimmesdale in the woods that she is able to speak her mind andher heart. It is in this scene that the most honest exchange inthe story takes place, and it is here that Hester is mostarticulate. Determined to talk with her beloved, she waitsanxiously until she “could gather voice enough” to speak to him.“When they found voice to speak,” they gradually begin aheartfelt talk. Noteworthy here is the way that the word“voice” is used as a mass noun and seems to reflect emotionalhonesty; it is only when they are true enough to their passionthat they find voice “enough” to express it. Not only doesHester increase her reading competency during this forest talkand “now read his heart more accurately,” she also realizes thestrength of her love for Dimmesdale and questions, “why shouldwe not speak it?” It is at this point that she is able to cryout Chillingworth’s sinister secret. At Hester’s urging,Dimmesdale also becomes more vocal and candidly expresses bothhis forgiveness and his love for her. Even though Dimmesdaletries to “hush” Hester up when her talk becomes too direct forhim, Hester insists on speaking her heart and encourages him todo likewise.While Chillingworth represents the bookish, rational mindand Hester the speaking, intuitive heart; Dimmesdale embodiesthe continual shift back and forth as he moves between writingand speech. He spends most of his energy making valiantattempts to break away from the constraints of his book—learning. He is described as a person who occasionally enjoyed110“the relief of looking at the universe through the medium ofanother kind of intellect than those with which he habituallyheld converse,” namely, with a freer atmosphere than that exudedby the “musty fragrance . . . from books” (90). Unlike Hester,the woman of the cloth, who could survive in a freer atmosphere,Dimmesdale, the man of the cloth, seems unable to reject anarrow—minded orthodoxy and is capable of only occasional lapsesfrom his books. As the action continues, though, it becomesincreasingly clear that the Reverend’s books could not providethe remedy for his emotional pain. In the scene where he hasfallen asleep in his chair “with a large black-letter volumeopen before him on the table” (100), the juxtaposition of thesleeping figure with the open tome demonstrates the uselessnessof book knowledge in the face of emotional need.However, Dimmesdale is not only a man of books, for he isknown as a successful speaker. Furthermore, his emotionaldeterioration is reflected in his voice: “his voice, thoughstill rich and sweet, had a certain melancholy prophecy of decayin it” (88), and as he deteriorates further: “his voice[became] more tremulous than before” (89). Even beforeDinunesdale becomes overwrought though, his eloquence is only inthe public forum; he speaks haltingly in private and strugglesto tell of the secret pain in his heart. Like other church menwho were gifted but lacked the ability to speak with humansympathy, Dinmiesdale lacked the tongue of flame:the gift that descended upon the chosen disciples atPentecost, in tongues of flame; symbolizing, it would111seem, not the power of speech in foreign and unknownlanguages, but that of addressing the whole humanbrotherhood in the heart’s native language. (103)He can speak with a “persuasive eloquence” that impresses allwho hear him, and he is viewed as “the mouth—piece of Heaven’smessages of wisdom, and rebuke, and love”; yet he yearns toarticulate his secrets and speak the “heart’s native language.”He “longed to speak out, from his own pulpit, at the full heightof his voice and tell the people what he was” (104); but hecould not. The day after his vigil on the scaffold, “hepreached a discourse which was held to be the richest and mostpowerful, and the most replete with heavenly influences, thathad ever proceeded from his lips” (115); but he still can’tvoice his private pain.Despite his public eloquence, he even struggles to expresshis emotion privately to Hester in their forest talk. Hishesitancy seems to be prompted by his inability to feel sympathyfor Hester as the woman he has loved, an inability demonstratedwhen he first steps into the woods and admits to seeing notHester the person, but “the scarlet letter.” Preoccupied withhis own suffering, he is unsympathetic to hers and is unable tosee inside to her anguish. Although he is the one with areputation for eloquence, he lacks Hester’s compassion, and heis in awe of her because she is able to voice “what he vaguelyhinted at, but dared not speak” (143).After his conversation in the woods with Hester, Dinimesdaleseems to understand the need for something besides the visible112text. When he walks into his study, he is struck by thepresence of the written texts in his room: the Hebrew Bible,the unfinished sermon on his desk, “with a sentence broken inthe midst.” Furthermore, he is conscious of his authorship andseems remorseful: “He knew that it was himself . . . who haddone these things, and written thus far in to the ElectionSermon!” Apologetic for his writing, he views it with a newawareness: “Another man had returned out of the forest; a wiserone; with a knowledge of hidden mysteries which the simplicityof the former never could have reached” (159). Apparently, hisconversation with Hester has prompted a new perspective, onecalling for a rejection of the simplistic written text.However, his enlightenment is short—lived. When he and Hesterare reunited on the scaffold, he tries to “hush” her up when shetalks of them being together again one day and reminds her ofthe law they broke. Still constrained by the letter of the law,he is bound by the printed word. Chillingworth is right when hecalls Dimmesdale and himself “men of study, whose heads are inour books” and cautions the Minister against “these books,——these books!” and urges him to “study less” (114). Repeatedly,Dimmesdale reverts to this reliance on the written word, and hisimpulse reflects an inclination to depend on visible texts forverification of truth.However, after Dimmesdale’s wooded conversation withHester, his linguistic ability is profoundly affected, and hiseloquence enhanced. When he gives his Election Sermon,113attention is called to the nature of “the minister’s verypeculiar voice” arid to his newly acquired language. The authoremphasizes that the minister’s “vocal organ was in itself a richendowment” and “Like all other music, it breathed passion andpathos . . . in a tongue native to the human heart.” Finally,Dimmesdale is able to articulate his passion; it is Dimmesdale’semotional honesty that provides his linguistic fluency, and “itwas this proud and continual undertone that gave the clergymanhis most appropriate power.” His sympathy with Hester hasenabled him to speak the tongue of flame and afterwards toreveal his sin. Even though his confession is in a voice that“had always a tremor through it, and sometimes a shriek” (180),revealing the ongoing anguish, it is emotionally eloquent andrepresents his most heroic fictional moment. Unfortunately, itis fleeting, because he reverts to his rigidly literal ways justbefore his death. Once again, he tells Hester to “hush” whenshe speaks of her hope for an eternity together; once again, hereminds her of the law they broke; once again, he is bound bythe letter of the law and by his emotional ineptness. In theportrayal of Dimmesdale, an over—reliance on literacy isdepicted as a character flaw and the mark of an emotionallyimmature heart.The Human Text and the Voice of ‘Suffering Humanity’Besides the degradation of the book and of rationalunderstanding via the character flaws of Chillingworth andDimmesdale, there is a recurring ontological metaphor which114operates as a satellite of UNDERSTANDING IS READING and whichserves to further demean the written text: A HUMAN LIFE IS ABOOK. This metaphor is used to reflect a perverse kind ofliteracy by which the reader attempts to interpret the mysteryof other people by analyzing the outward actions of their lives.Hawthorne first uses it in self-deprecation to describe his ownattitude: “The page of life that was spread out before meseemed dull and commonplace” (32). Here, the outward signs ofdaily life are portrayed as tedious, with the implication thatwhat is most interesting about our lives is not visible. Thesuggestion is that it takes a special talent to discern theseinvisible secrets of life. When Chillingworth asks the townsmanwho the father of Hester’s babe is, the citizen says that the“matter remaineth a riddle; and the Daniel who shall expound itis yet a—waiting” (48). Here is the idea that deciphering thehieroglyphics of life requires some wise man to do the decoding.Just as the prophet Daniel deciphered the cryptic writing thatappeared on the wall during Beishazzar’s feast, so too is therea need for some seer to solve the mystery of Pearl’s paternity.Implied here is the fact that Chillingworth, in his insistenceon reading only visible texts, is not this seer. To see a humanlife as a book is to disregard the real clues to the humanenigma.A HUMAN LIFE IS A BOOK is also used in reference to the wayothers try to read Hester and Pearl:Thus she [Hester] will be a living sermon against sin(63)115It was often her [Hester’s) mishap to find herself thetext of the discourse (64)It [Pearl’s appearance) was the scarlet letter inanother form; the scarlet letter endowed with life!(75)She [Pearl) had been offered to the world . . . as theliving hieroglyphic . . . all written in this symbolhad there been a prophet or magician skilled toread the character of flame! (148)Just as Chillingworth is unable to discern the identity ofPearl’s father and just as Dimmesdale is unable to see intoHester’s heart and only sees the scarlet letter, so too does theemotionally incompetent person attend to mere outwardappearances.The perversity of reading only external signs is echoed inanother ontological metaphor that pairs evil with writing: EVILIS A BOOK/SIN IS A MARK, as revealed in several expressionsreferring to Satan’s book:I [Hester] would willingly have . . . signed my namein the Black Man’s book too (86)this ugly Black Man offers his book and an iron pen toeverybody . . . and they are to write their names withtheir own blood. And then he sets his mark on theirbosoms! . . . the old dame said that this scarletletter was the Black Man’s mark on thee. . . . (133)This letter is his [the Black Man’s) mark! (134)There is something perverse about those who look for signs ofsin in other people. Mistress Hibbins, who is thought to be awitch, is often the one who either refers to the mark of evil orthe one others tell about it. When Hibbins invites Hester andPearl into the forest as they leave the Governor’s house, Hestersays that if she had lost Pearl, she would have readily signed116her name in the Black book. Here the temptation to commit thesin of despair is associated with writing, along with thesuggestion that searching for signs of evil can be the symptomof a sinister reader. It is the evil Hibbins who assures Hesterthat the Black Man will disclose his mark on Dimmesdale (172).Once again, the visible text is maligned, and both those whorecord their names in the Book of evil and those who read themarks there are sinful. Also in evidence here is the conflictbetween the Calvinistic inclination to look for visible markersof salvation, along with the opposing tendency to distrust thosevisible signs, for only God could know the secrets of the heart.The danger of relying on visible signifiers can even applyto the natural text, which can be a source of faultyinterpretation if read egotistically. When, in his increasinglyanxious state, Dimmesdale searches frantically for a writtensign while on his midnight vigil on the scaffold, he sees animmense letter “A” in the sky and tries to read his destiny fromit. The author comments on the minister’s vision by saying thatit was a common belief at the time that “the destiny of nationsshould be revealed, in these awful hieroglyphics, on the cope ofheaven. A scroll so wide might not be deemed too expansive forprovidence to write a people’s doom upon.” However, Hawthornecautions, it was quite another thing for an individual to readhis destiny in such grandiose terms:In such a case, it could only be the symptom of ahighly disordered mental state, when a man, renderedmorbidly self-contemplative by long, intense, andsecret pain, had extended his egotism over the whole117expanse of nature, until the firmament itself shouldappear no more than a fitting page for his soul’shistory and fate. (113)In this case, reading the book of nature is perverse andarrogant. Implied here is the understanding that the visibletext of nature could not alone enlighten the human heart, andthat to use it as the sole source for understanding humanpassion is even pathological. Furthermore, to read withoutregard for other people in our lives is the sign of a“disordered mental state.”While visible texts, such as human actions and naturalsigns, are portrayed as inferior sources of emotionalunderstanding, another ontological metaphor THE HEART IS A BOOKis used to point to a superior kind of perceptive process. Thismetaphor highlights an interior kind of reading, prompting theinsight necessary for having a heart—to—heart exchange. Ittakes a gifted reader——one who who can see past the visibletext——to understand human passion. Hester shows her fear thatChillingworth might have this kind of expertise when she“clasped her hands over her heart, dreading lest he should readthe secret there at once” (58). But if the embittered scholardoes possess a “native sagacity,” it is of a limited mental typethat results from his attempt to “bring his mind into such anaffinity with his patient’s”; it does not involve a heartfeltreceptiveness. Chillingworth lacks the necessary emotionalexpertise to feel sympathy for another person, and it is onlywhen he thinks he sees some visible sign on Dimmesdale’s chest118that he feels enlightened. His emotional illiteracy resultsfrom attending only to visible texts and from relying onrational analysis only.Since visible texts are necessarily inadequate forrepresenting emotional understanding in the metaphorical schemeof The Scarlet Letter, speech emerges as a vehicle forrepresenting the intuitive process necessary for humancompassion. It is Dimmesdale’s Election Sermon that providesthe model of the language of the heart. Speaking in the tongueof flame, his voice has alow undertone . . . and yet, majestic as the voicesometimes became, there was forever in it anessential character of plaintiveness. A loud or lowexpression of anguish,——the whisper, or the shriek, asit might be conceived of suffering humanity.The complaint of a human heart, sorrow—laden,perchance guilty, telling its secret . . . to thegreat heart of mankind. . . . It was this profoundand continual undertone that gave the clergyman hismost appropriate power, (172-73)Here is the voice of a human heart in pain. Here is thevoice of someone who summons up the necessary emotional honestyto let his sinful sadness be heard. And here is the one voicerepresenting all of “suffering humanity.” The resultingcommunication is between hearts, as the words cannot be heard;it is the undertone that subtly communicates. Hester’s hearingis especially keen because, even though the sound was muffled,she “listened with such intentness, and sympathized sointimately, that the sermon had throughout a meaning for her,entirely apart from its indistinguishable words” (172). Thecrowd’s response to this “high strain of eloquence” is a “mighty119swell of many voices, blended into one great voice by theuniversal impulse which makes likewise one vast heart out of themany” (177). Recalling Thoreau’s “one articulation” of Nature,Hawthorne’s voice imagery represents how the proper kind ofinterpretation implies a unifying process, how the proper kindof emotional sympathy prompts a unified response. As inEmerson’s and Thoreau’s epistemic scheme, truth does not residein one thing or another, but rather in the exchange betweenthem. The harmony resulting from the tongue of flame does notreside in one person or the other, but in the sympatheticdialogue between them.This sympathetic exchange also can occur with the naturalelements. If a person approaches the process of understandingemotional truths. in the proper intuitive spirit, then thenatural world can speak to the individual heart. AlthoughDimmesdale unsuccessfully tries to interpret the visible signsof nature written on the parchment of the sky, Pearl is able toperceive the spirit of Nature in its voice. Here NATURE IS ASPEAKER, and acquiring emotional understanding entails listeningto her voice. Pearl is the only character who is described ashaving such a refined sensibility to Nature’s calling. BecausePearl has acquired an empathy from her own suffering, she canhear the anguished voice of another wild spirit. Modeling hermother’s ability to hear Dimmesdale’s undertone of suffering,Pearl is being guided in the sympathy necessary to hear andunderstand the pain of another. Many linguistic expressions120reflect how NATURE IS A SPEAKER and how Pearl enters into adialogue with this natural voice. She can hear the voice ofthe brook: “with its never ceasing loquacity, it should whispertales out of the heart of the old forest.” She can hear thisstreamlet as it keeps up “a babble, kind, quiet, soothing, butmelancholy, like the voice of a young child that was spendingits infancy without playfulness. . . . After listening awhileto its talk,” Pearl tries to cheer up the murmuring stream “butthe brook . . . had gone though so solemn an experience that itcould not help talking about it, and seemed to have nothing elseto say” (134). The irrepressible, sad babbling of the brookcorresponds to Pearl’s own rantings; both voices reflect life’ssuffering——one in terms of the natural world and the other interms of “suffering humanity.”Other expressions which reflect NATURE IS A SPEAKER alsohighlight the sadness and the mystery in the situation:the melancholy voice of the brook . . . kept tellingits unintelligible secret . . . or making a propheticlamentation (135)dark, old trees, which, with their multitudinoustongues, would whisper long what had passedthere. . . . And the melancholy brook would add thisother tale to the mystery with which its little heartwas already overburdened, and whereof it still kept upa murmuring babble, with not a whit more cheerfulnessof tone. (152)Here is a melancholy rhapsody, telling of life’s pain, the sadlyrics of which are paradoxically stitched together by thewritten text of the novel. While the tale of sufferingpresented here is in terms of Nature’s voices, it is important121to note that their sad story echoes the human saga as well. Theharmonics of the novel provide for these natural voices to blendwith human ones just as Hester and Dimmesdale “had mingled theirsad and passionate talk with the melancholy murmur of the brook”(170). Taken together, these voices join into one articulationand resound with the anguish of life. Also significant is theway that the metaphor of listening highlights the dynamics ofthe exchange, so that the voices are usually heard in dialoguewith one another. As the linguistic expressions show,understanding emotional truths is an ongoing process, areciprocal conversation of sympathy.The many shouts, shrieks, and other labored verbal attemptsthroughout the novel reflect anguished efforts to express bothhuman passion and compassion. In this way, human emotion ispersonified so that PASSION IS A SPEAKER and its voice oftenmanifested in uncontrolled verbal outbursts. While Pearl’svocal irregularities are most often associated with sadness,Dimmesdale’s speech aberrations often hint of some eviletiology. During his midnight vigil, “Without any effort ofhis will, or power to restrain himself, he shrieked aloud,” andthe sound reverberates across the hills “as if a company ofdevils . . . had made a plaything of the sound” (108). Not onlydoes this description suggest the uncontrollable nature of hisspeech and its wildness, but also its alliance with evil. Weare told that his shriek is heard by Governor Bellingham andMistress Hibbins, so that evil hears evil. Also while on the122scaffold in the dark, Dimmesdale inexplicably “and to his owninfinite alarm, burst into a great peal of laughter” which Pearlresponded to with laughter of her own (110-111). In itswildness, the laughter seems to reflect the perverse nature ofuncontrolled human passion and the way it often threatens tovoice itself. The continual attempt to control speech mirrorsthe human effort to control the emotional forces within us.When Dimmesdale watches Hester and Pearl walk below him on thescaffold, he works at “suppressing his voice,” and his attemptto stifle speech results in a whispered response to Pearl’sinsistent inquiries (111). This repeated effort to hush ormuffle speech intimates some preternatural force in humanpassion that is so powerful it can speak itself.Furthermore, this voice of passion bespeaks a perversity attimes; if uncontrolled, passion can exert an evil influence.The experience that Dimmesdale has after leaving Hester in thewoods is significant in the way that it demonstrates the evilthat lurks in uncontrolled passion. Some sinister force seemsto be trying to voice itself through Dixnmesdale as he encountersseveral temptations——all verbal ones. First, he feels animpulse to utter certain blasphemies about the communion supperto a deacon. Feeling out of control, “He absolutely trembledand turned pale as ashes, lest his tongue should wag itself, inutterance of these horrible matters” (155). Then, he meets apious widow from his congregation and is tempted to quote a lineof Scripture arguing against the mortality of the human soul, a123line which would have distressed the devout old woman. Instead,thanks to “a fortunate disorder of his utterance,” he mumblessomething else and saves the woman from scandal. Next, he istempted by the archfiend himself to whisper some suggestive wordinto the ear of a trusting young virgin, but he resists the urgeand passes her without speaking, choosing silence over a lewdcomment. Then, he feels an impulse to stop and “teach some verywicked words” to some little Puritan children at play, but stopshimself. Finally, he longs to shake hands with a drunken seamanand exchange some “heaven defying” oaths with him, but managesto forego this temptation as well (156-7). All of theseoccasions of sin are with the spoken word, and they allaccompany what he feels is a “revolution in the sphere ofthought and feeling” within him (155). Here passion works tospeak itself, and the human voice box is left to modulate theemotional volume and regulate the articulations.The many deviations from normal speech deserve reflection,for they demonstrate the intensity of human passion and thedegree of human effort needed to suppress this emotionalvehemence. With its curious mix of voices, the scene during“The Minister’s Vigil” is especially representative of the wholenovel’s vocal quality. When Chillingworth comes into range ofthe scaffold, he hears Hester’s silence, Dimmesdale’s muttering,gasping, and whispering; while Pearl speaks in a tongue that“sounded, indeed, like human language, but was only suchgibberish as children may be heard amusing themselves with” and124“in a tongue unknown to the erudite clergyman” (114). ThisPentecostal scene is filled with the voices of the characters,all speaking in tongues, and their chaotic language reflectstheir moral and emotional chaos. The efforts to speak and tomodulate speech, which constitute the primary action of thestory, reach a crescendo in this scene and reveal how humanpassion sometimes expresses itself in pathological ways.Whether the scene is uproarious or subdued, though, theficitional action resides in the words exchanged between people.While the utterances are sometimes passionate outbursts as inthe midnight vigil scene, there are also the quiet conversationslike Hester and Dinunesdale’s all important forest talk. Justbefore this conversation, we learn that Hester “hesitated tospeak” but it is Dimmesdale’s anguished utterances which moveher: “his words here offered her the very point ofcircumstances in which to interpose what she came to say,” andthen “Again she hesitated, but brought out the words with aneffort” (138). Articulating the pains of the heart isagonizing, and we need to be in dialogue with another heart ifwe are to be successful. We need to talk with one another andnot just vent our emotions. It is this kind of heart-to-hearttalk that constitutes the most valued speech in the book, asprivate conversations tend to be more honest than publicdeclarations. Just as Hester cautions Pearl not to talk aboutwhat happened in the forest because “We must not always talk inthe market—place of what happens to us in the forest” (170), the125metaphorical action cautions against relying on publicexpressions. The private, forest talk always rings truer thanthe public, marketplace discourse.The ‘Tongue of Flame’ and the Inadequacy of LanguageSo it is that the real “Revelation of the Scarlet Letter”is the understanding that emotional harmony results from anhonest and sympathetic exchange between two people. To becomefluent in this tongue of flame is to know both the relief thatcomes from the disclosure of intense suffering, and thetranscendence that comes from someone else’s sympatheticlistening, from being attentive to another person’s passion.Both Dimmesdale’s emotional honesty and Hester’s capacity forhearing the undertone of suffering result in the emotionaleloquence of the Election speech. Neither one alone issufficient. Although they may not achieve the spiritualsalvation of the elect, they do achieve an emotional revival.Just as the power of Dimmesdale’s speech transcends the writtentext by “continually lifting him out of the written discoursethat lay before him” (176), so too does his emotional honestylift him out of his confined emotional restraints. Voicetranscends book, and the intuitive heart transcends the rationalmind, just as UNDERSTANDING IS LISTENING displaces UNDERSTANDINGIS READING.Therefore, what is being highlighted by the metaphoricalaction is that emotional fluency is not a function ofinterpreting visible signs, but rather of attending to audible126signals. Understanding human passion is a matter not of thebook, but of the voice. The real revelation is not of sin, butof suffering. The value of the scarlet letter is that it servesmerely as a marker of human transgression, and the significanceof Dimmesdale’s confession is that it voices this pain andprovides some relief from human anguish and some insight intothe human enigma. As Dimmesdale tells Chillingworth, “theserevelations.. .are meant merely to promote the intellectualsatisfaction of all intelligent beings, to see the dark problemof this life made plain. A knowledge of men’s hearts will beneedful to the completest solution to that problem” (96).Therefore, making a public account of our sins can provide someknowledge of emotional truths and some intellectual relief, butthe pang of suffering remains inside.The two structural metaphors UNDERSTANDING IS READING andUNDERSTANDING IS LISTENING emerge to provide a unifyingprinciple in The Scarlet Letter, as they work to demonstratethat in order to understand emotional truths, we need to movebeyond a reliance on visible signs and be sensitive to the voiceof suffering. This metaphorical framework results in aprivileging of intuitive understanding as reflected in the voiceimagery. Hawthorne remarks on his own need to attend to thatinner voice: “There was always a prophetic instinct, a lowvoice in my ear” (23). The reading metaphor points to theinadequacy of the intellect to discern emotional truth, and thelistening metaphor confirms the value of the heart to provide127the sympathy necessary for genuine understanding. The maincharacters in the novel never do completely transcend theconstraints of the letter of the law, and even Hester resumeswearing the scarlet letter, indicating the human inclination toseek affirmation in visible signs. However, the largercommunity does seem to achieve some emotional triumph:When an uninstructed multitude attempts to see withits eyes, it is exceedingly apt to be deceived. When,however, it forms its judgment, as it usually does,on the intuitions of its great warm heart, theconclusions thus attained are often so profound and sounerring, as to possess the character of truthssupernaturally revealed. (93)By relying on their intuitive powers, rather than on visiblesigns, the multitude resolves the narrative’s hermeneuticaltension between reading print and hearing the human heart.While listening to the voice of suffering humanity canprovide some relief from the anguish of hidden sin and repressedpassion, there is still some unresolved tension lingering, forthe disclosure of human pain sometimes cannot do justice to theextent of the suffering. As Dimmesdale tells Chillingworth,“There can be . . . no power, short of the Divine mercy, todisclose, whether by uttered words, or by type or emblem, thesecrets that may be buried with a human heart” (96). In otherwords, there is some pain so enormous that no expression of itcan be adequate. Given this gap, language is ultimatelyinadequate for voicing the extent of human agony, and nometaphor of word can sufficiently represent the anguishexperienced. The many shrieks, whispers, and shouts throughout128the novel reflect the ongoing human attempt to articulate griefand passion. However, language can never adequately communicatehuman suffering; it can only provide a rubric and a form tocontain it. Hawthorne’s black, red, and gold text improves ona strictly literal account, a black and white version, bysuggesting the complexities of human suffering; ultimately,though, it can only point to the truth. Just as there arelimits to what can be expressed in language, so too are thereepistemic limits. As Hawthorne suggests right from thebeginning, any public account is necessarily inadequate and theonly “true” account is the private, unuttered one. Verbalaccounts can provide some “intellectual satisfaction,” butknowledge of the heart remains elusive. In chapter six, I willtreat this lingering tension by discussing how the metaphor ofexpressed silence provides for some representation of thisinexpressible emotional meaning.129Chapter 4 Notes1. Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter: An Annotated Text,Backgrounds and Sources, Essays in Criticism, p. 23. Allsubsequent page citations are in the text.2. Oxford English Dictionary, p. 860.3. Charles Feidelson, Jr., Symbolism and American Literature, p.43.4. Scott Harshbarger, “A ‘H_il-Fired Story’: Hawthorne’s Rhetoricof Rumor,” p. 36. All subsequent page citations are in the•text.130CKAPTE 5VOICES IN NEGATION IN MOBY DICKAn Epistemic LogA book about a whaling voyage, Moby Dick can be viewed asan epistemic journey whose ship is language. An examination ofits metaphorics of word will reveal a self-absorption with therelationship between language and knowing and, as in the otherworks in this study, the processes of reading and listeningprovide conceptual frameworks for structuring the process ofunderstanding. However, Melville’s metacognitive design is muchgrander than any discussed so far in that it moves the site ofdiscovery out of the inner self (Emerson and Thoreau) and awayfrom the human heart (Hawthorne) onto the high seas and into thewide world——assuming cosmic dimensions.Furthermore, rather than demonstrating the role ofinterpreter, Melville’s text reveals the work of a cataloguer,one who constructs a single text by assembling many texts aswell as bits and pieces of texts. Preferring to compile, ratherthan to connect, Melville works to gather information, so thatIshmael’s cetological project functions as a metaphor forMelville’s own effort to collect as much relevant data aspossible about the enigma of death. In contrast with the othersystems discussed so far which highlight various kinds ofunderstanding sought through language, Melville’s system131emphasizes the way in which the limits of language represent thelimits of our human understanding.While the Transcendental project called for knowledge ofthe self and of Nature, and Hawthorne’s venture required asympathy with human suffering, Melville’s effort at taxonomydemands other credentials. Here the need is to be encyclopedicand comprehensive. Just as Ishmael composes his own cetology tohelp explain the whale since no existing book does it justice,so too does Melville compose his own Moby Dick to deal with themystery of death; however, both attempts can only result incatalogues of information because language can provide nocertain explanations, only a glossary of possible ones. Ishmaeldescribes the task of drafting a systematization of cetology as“a ponderous task; no ordinary letter—sorter in the Post—officeis equal to it”: a description that fits Melville’seschatological venture as well. Moreover, much of the narrativeresults from Ishmael’s attempt to discover himself bydiscovering the meaning of the whaling voyage; by composing thetale, he works to compose himself. Here again, rhetoric isepistemic in the way that each re-telling of the story providesa re—creation of truth. As Bruce Grenberg puts it, “Ishmaeldiscovers what happened to him on the voyage only as he writes”(emphasis added) •2 Each linguistic rendering suggests a newepistemic effort.Symbolizing the elusive and vast mysteries of life,particularly the enigma of death, the whale emerges as the132controlling symbol of the work and provides the living text andobject of study. The whale is an appropriate representative ofunobtainable truth in the way that “its mighty bulkaffords a most congenial theme whereon to enlarge, amplify, andgenerally expatiate. Would you, you could not compress him”(465). A useful symbol of truth which can not be compressed,the whale has the necessary vastness. However, since thewhale’s is “an unwritten life” (135, emphasis added), thecetologist must observe it in action, for “only on the profoundunbounded sea, can the full invested whale be truly and livinglyfound out” (464). Like Thoreau’s desire for “living poetry,”Melville’s scheme insists on the superiority of the living textand thus calls for special attention to the image of the livingvoice. Therefore, in its comprehensiveness, the metaphorics ofMoby Dick provides for many voices, including “half-articulations” that finally work to cancel each other out, withthis result: a significant kind of silence.Melville’s design acknowledges the relentless human need tofind meaning in life, and it is this inevitable interpretivelure that underwrites his text and preoccupies his characters,compelling them to search for significance. While Hawthorneadvises against a preoccupation with visible signs, Melvillewarns against the compulsion to interpret signs at all. AsFather Mapple says in telling the story of Jonah, “There lurks,perhaps, a hitherto unheeded meaning here” and even moreforcefully declares later that it is “full of meaning” (44—5).133Ahab demonstrates this hermeneutic persistence when he pauses toexamine the figures on the doubloon “to interpret for himself insome monomaniac way whatever significance might lurk in them”for “some certain significance lurks in all things” (44), andhis obsession to track Moby Dick illustrates the interpretiveimpulse taken to its evil extreme.It is this epistemic lurking that haunts these characters,and the lingering belief that some certain meaning can be foundthat prompts Ishmael to keep trying to account for what happens.Even though the Pequod’s voyage comes to an end, we know thatIshmael, as the representative of us all, will continue to gowhaling, will keep telling his story, and will keep trying tomake sense of it. In this fated scheme, language is useful, notbecause it solves life’s mysteries; but because it allows uscontinually to name our epistemic boundaries, to identify whatwe cannot know, and most important of all, to keep on creatinga catalogue of explanations to life’s mysteries——ultimatelyacknowledging that none of them is certain. What is inevitablehere is the process of meaning—making, not the destination, butthe relentless voyage of discovery. Like a ship’s log thatrecords all relevant information without interpreting it, MobyDick provides an epistemic log of an endless voyage, one onwhich humans are fated to embark again and again, as long asthey seek to understand life’s enigmas.That Melville had misgivings about the adequacy of anysystem to explain these elusive truths is evident. Not only134does he reject the Transcendental confidence in accessing thespiritual truth of the inner self, he suggests that a fullexperience of Transcendentalist truth is fatal. The “sunken—eyed young Platonist,” contemplating nature from his perch onthe mast—head, who falls first into a mystical trance and thento his death in the ocean, exemplifies the transcendentalistwhose “merging” with nature is death (162-63).Melville also refers to the difficulties with Calvinism asa system for discerning God’s will. For example, when Starbuckmakes his last attempt to appeal to Ahab’s reason, the captain’sreply is to identify his own perverse obsession with the will ofGod, thus confirming the Calvinist denial of free will. Ahabpoints to a Calvinist God who appears to be the spirit of evilin the universe: “What . . . inscrutable, unearthly thingcommands me . . . making me ready to do what in my ownproper, natural heart, I durst not so much as dare? . . . Isit I, God, or who, that lifts this arm?” (546). By aligningAhab’s maniacal quest with Divine Providence, Melville callsinto question the entire Calvinist scheme. References such asthese serve to undermine all philosophical systems and result inMelville’s intimation that certain truths, such as the nature ofGod, the human potential for transcendence, and the role ofsuffering and death, are ultimately unobtainable and defy ‘somecertain significance’. That none of the signs in Moby Dick,neither visual nor auditory, can be satisfactorily interpretedconfirms Melville’s epistemic comment: the only truth is in the135telling.While the tone cultivated in Nature, Walden, and TheScarlet Letter echoes the shift away from the more literarystyle of the book to the more personal style of the voice,Melville’s text is marked by a curious anonymity. The overalltone of the work defies a single descriptor because in itscomprehensiveness, Moby Dick includes so many genres and pointsof view that it lacks any distinctive persona. Composed of manytexts, it ranges from novel to documentary, from drama toscientific treatise, from philosophical essay to poetry. Attimes, the narrative voice of Ishmael presents the point of viewdirectly; at other times, Ishmael reports conversationsindirectly; at still other times Ishmael’s voice is silent, andwe overhear the story in soliloquies, asides, and stagedirections. As Michael Gilmore has remarked, “One has no sensethat Ishmael——or indeed, anyone——has written these pages;lacking a mediating point of view, they produce the illusion ofa text without an author.”3 By creating such an illusion,Melville intimates that there are many versions of truth,without endorsing any one of them. Ultimately, these voices ofexplanation become voices in negation as they effectively canceleach other out, leaving only the written text and the lingeringquestions. In the absence of a single mediated point of view,the text functions anonymously. Like whiteness which “is notso much a color as the visible absence of color, and at the sametime the concrete of all colors” (198), the text seems generated136by no one and, at the same time, by everyone.Like the ship’s carpenter who constructs his work out ofbits and pieces of materials, Melville constructs his text outof various genres and presents the prefabricated form withoutinitial introduction or comment, in authorial anonymity.Instead of direct commentary, the work begins with a collectionof mini—texts. First is an “Etymology” that has been “suppliedby a late consumptive usher to a grammar school” followed by“the Extracts,” excerpted comments about whales gathered by a“sub—sub librarian” (ix). This opening compendium forecasts theoverall intent of the text: to compile and catalogueinformation, but not to analyze it directly, for that move isleft up to the reader. In this way, the overall structurefunctions iconically to demonstrate how language can be used toname and classify life’s mysteries, but it cannot solve them.By deliberately assembling pieces of texts here at the beginningwith little or no connecting threads, Melville resists the bookas a form. Instead, he prefers to compile data and acknowledgesthat “This whole book is a draught--nay, but a draught of adraught” (148). By resisting the book as a unifying form, hisresulting assemblage works to reinforce the shift away from theimage of the book as a satisfying embodiment of truth.The Tower of Babel and the PyramidAs the early references to grammar, the lexicon, and thelibrary signal, Moby Dick is concerned with the topic oflanguage itself. Furthermore, the fact that most of the authors137of these initial excerpts are dead immediately pairs languagewith death, an association that is threaded throughout the work.The marble tablets in the Whalers’ Chapel, inscribed withepitaphs of dead sailors, point to the way we use language toexplain death. However, language proves to be no match for thepowers of death, for the “frigid inscriptions” reveal nosecrets: “What bitter blanks in those black—bordered marbles”(38). Later, using the Tower of Babel and the pyramid to elicitassociations between language and death, Melville suggests theprimacy and ultimate nature of death. In discussing theprogenitors of mast-head builders, Ishmael emphasizes that thepyramid builders must be given priority over the builders of theTower of Babel because the Tower fell, implying that death, asmarked by the pyramid, is more enduring (powerful) thanlanguage, as represented by the Tower of Babel. This sameassociation between language and death is transferred to thewhale, which is characterized as being marked with “mystichieroglyphics” (207), like the “mysterious cyphers on the wallsof pyramids” (315). Just as the whale ultimately isundecipherable, so too is the mystery of death finally incapableof being interpreted by human language.‘Explain Myself I Must’In tension with Melville’s comment that language isultimately inadequate for solving the mystery of death is hiscontention that humans are compelled to keep on trying to uselanguage to crack the eschatological code. Despite the failure138of human attempts to interpret either the “mysterious cyphers”on the walls of pyramids or the ones on the surface of whales,he demonstrates the human obsession with the ongoing attempt.When Ahab declares, “That inscrutable thing is chiefly what Ihate” (168), he is acknowledging the controlling passion of thework: the hatred of the inaccessibility of truth. And whenIshmael says, “it was the whiteness of the whale that above allappalled me,” he not only echoes Ahab’s hatred of the elusivenature of truth, he also vents his “despair of putting it in acomprehensible form” (189). For Ahab, the overwhelming desireis to understand; for Ishmael (and Melville), the compulsion isto articulate that understanding: “in some dim, random wayexplain myself I must, else all these chapters might be naught”(189—190). In this way, the tension between the need tounderstand and the need to articulate that understanding inwords drives the action of Moby Dick and provides the thematicunderpinning of its metaphorical system.Both UNDERSTANDING IS READING and UNDERSTANDING ISLISTENING operate to demonstrate that literacy and orality canonly help us to understand that there are limits to what humanscan know. Language acts can only provide epistemic relief byallowing us to keep on trying to explain, rather than to publishany certain explanations. As the only survivor of the Pequodand the designated narrator, Ishmael is the one who willmetaphorically continue the attempt to account for the mysteryof death. He represents the human compulsion to keep on139explaining those terrifying forces that we do not comprehenduntil we can understand what we mean, or at least until we canname them. To explain something is somehow to subdue its forceover us4, and Ishmael’s effort to account for the “namelessphantom” from his childhood reflects the human attempt toexplain away our fears.Furthermore, like the insistence on the dangers of thevisible text reflected in The Scarlet Letter, the action of MobyDick points to the dangers of relying on visible signs.UNDERSTANDING IS READING is used to reflect the continualdisparagement of the visible text. Right at the beginning,there is a caveat to readers advising them of the dangers oftaking the written text too seriously, cautioning them not to“take the higgledy-piggledy whale statements, however authentic,in these extracts, for veritable gospel cetology” (ix). Writtenrecords are unreliable, and this warning is placed in front ofreaders straightaway and throughout the work. When everyone in“The Chapel” (except the illiterate Queequeg) is reading theinscriptions written on the marble tablets recounting the deathsat sea, Ishmael recognizes the limitations of print when henotes that many accidents are never recorded and that these“bleak tablets” do little to explain the deaths; they merelycause readers to grieve anew. He terms these texts “bitterblanks” and “deadly voids” and even “unbidden infidelities inthe lines that seem to gnaw upon all Faith.” Not only are thesewritings incomplete, then, they fail to enlighten, and their140every existence prompts a loss of faith: “What despair in theseimmovable inscriptions!” (39). The incompleteness of theseepitaphs reflects the inadequacy of the written word to recordthe whole truth.Just as written records fail to explain death, so too dobooks fail to explain life adequately. Ishmael argues that outof the many books about whales, most provide no real knowledgeand only two even pretend to portray the living whale (134).Since the whale’s is “an unwritten life” (135), books cannotcapture its vast meaning. Books are inadequate in theirportrayal of both the enigma of death and the mystery of life.Like the pictures of whales found in ancient books which areonly primitive intimations of the real creatures, the writtentext supplies only a partial, imprecise view. Like the letterintended for the drowned Jeroboam crew member, “most lettersnever reach their mark” (327): the written word simply cannotaccurately access truth.Despite the obvious inadequacies of the printed word, fewcan resist the temptation to search for truth in writing. Theway that each crew member carefully reads the markings on thedoubloon that Ahab nails up as a reward for first sighting MobyDick highlights the irresistible lure of the written text. AndStubb reminds us of the idiosyncratic nature of reading byobserving that “There’s another rendering now; but still onetext” (444). At one point, even Queequeg looks to the printedtext for enlightenment. In the parlor of the Spouter-Inn,141Ishmael watches the illiterate harpooner “wholly occupied withcounting the pages of the marvelous book” he has picked up.Since he cannot read the volume in the traditional way, Queequegmeasures its contents by counting out the pages fifty at a time.His unusual method of reading echoes the variety of ways tointerpret text and also calls into question both the traditionalmode of reading and a reliance on the written word as a sourceof truth. As Stubb later remarks, “you books must know yourplaces. You’ll do to give us the bare words and facts, but wecome in to supply the thoughts” (443). Reading the written wordcan supply only the fundamental facts and reflects a limitedkind of understanding, but the inclination to rely on print ispowerful.In every case, the visible text confounds us. Like themarkings on the stone walls of pyramids, like the etchings onthe exterior of whales, and like the wrinkles on Ahab’s brow;“all visible objects . . . are but as pasteboard masks” (220)denying us access to what truth may lurk behind them.Therefore, UNDERSTANDING IS LISTENING works to suggest a moreaccurate source of knowledge: the human voice. Throughout thework, there is a reliance on the human voice to reveal truth.In this way, listening represents an understanding of the livingtruth. It is Ishmael’s recollected story told aloud thatconstitutes much of the text. Much of the significant actionof the story, like the dismasting of Ahab’s leg, occurs out ofsight, and we learn of it from Ishmael’s retelling, rather than142from direct exposition.Furthermore, most of the tension in the story results fromwaiting to hear the call that Moby Dick has been sighted or tohear some news of the whale yelled across the water from passingboats. Throughout the voyage, and particularly as the chasebegins, the crew strains to hear the voice that announces thewhale’s sighting. Because the doubloon goes to the one whoshouts first, it matters who first calls it out loud. DespiteTashtego’s protests, Ahab insists that he is the first one tosight Moby Dick and then continues to cry out “There she blows!”repeatedly, not so much for information about the whale’sappearance as for verification of its existence (548). “Firedby the cry which seemed simultaneously taken up by the threelook-outs,” the crew begins its assault (548). When Ahabreminds the crew to “sing out for every spout though he spoutten times a second!” (555), he is pointing to the need for theirvoices. Once again, he needs their voices to affirm the realityof the great whale, even though they do not provide anexplanation of its mystery. The human voice can provideverification of life’s mysteries, even though it does notexplióate them. On the Pequod, the shouts of whale sightingsand the cries of response provide the most stirring events inthe story, and the anticipation of these oral warnings sustainsa belief in the mysterious white whale when it is out of sight.Conversations also constitute a large portion of the textand sometimes prove to be a useful source of information. When143Ishmael narrates “The Town Ho’s Story,” he interweaves hisnarration with the actual conversations exchanged, so that thestory emerges within the dialogue (247 ff). After the killingof a right whale, Stubb and Flask discuss the significance ofhaving a sperm whale hoisted on one side of the boat and a rightwhale’s on the other; together, they talk through an explanation(332 ff). Furthermore, the conversations that Ahab has with thecrews of many other boats (the Albatross, Town Ho, Jeroboam,Virgin, Rose Bud, Samuel Enderby, Bachelor, Rachel, Delight)provide his main source of information about the whereabouts ofMoby Dick. Like the accumulated rumors in The Scarlet Letter,the conversations across the water in Moby Dick constitute muchof the story’s action.‘Half-articulated Wailings’ and Truthful GibberishWhile human voices are more important to the crew of thePequod than books, these vocalizations are not always reliableeither, as there are many garbled and semi—articulate voices.As they struggle to figure out truth, sometimes people talkgibberish, as Queequeg describes the talk of Christians whom hetries to emulate (58). Stubb often responds with queerlaughter, and Starbuck with strange whispers. Some of the mostconspicuous vocalizations, however, are the “sobs,” “shouts,”“wails,” and “shrieks” of distress. As in The Scarlet Letter,these cries of alarm reflect the human struggle to articulateanguish, specifically the agonizing effort to explain death. Inanswer to whether or not Moby Dick was the whale that dismasted144him, Ahab responds “with a terrific, loud, animal sob” and thenwith “a half sob and a half shout” (167). The intensity of hisvoice points to the intensity of the epistemic struggle, and thepartial quality of the utterance reflects the impossibility ofarticulating the whole truth.After Ahab is retrieved from the water following his firstday’s assault by Moby Dick, “nameless wails came from him, asdesolate sounds from out ravines,” demonstrating again hisstrained efforts to voice the awful truth (553). On the secondday of the chase, “Ahab’s unearthly slogan tore every other crybut his to shreds,” emphasizing the terror of the truth and thepower of his obsession to voice it. Just before Moby Dick issighted for the final time, “from the three mast-heads threeshrieks went up as if the tongues of fire had voiced it” (566).Again, alarming voices reflect an intimation of the impending,terrifying truth. Then on the final day of the chase, there isa conspicuous conflict of voices. A voice cries from the lowcabin window warning Ahab of sharks, but Ahab hears nothing,“for his own voice was high—lifted then” (568). The voice ofdoom negates the voice of caution.While these cries of anguish and impending doom arechillingly audible throughout the story, the voices of the dead,though less frequently heard, are even more disturbing. Beforethe disastrous encounter with Moby Dick, the crew hears cries sowild that they sound “like half-articulated wailings of theghosts of all Herod’s murdered innocents,” and the old Manxman145declares that they are “the voices of newly drowned men in thesea” (527). The voices of the dead scream out in shrieks andsobs and intimate the terrifying reality of death. Important tonote here is that these voices of the dead are alsocharacterized as “half—articulated,” indicating the extent ofthe struggle and the failure of language ever to understandfully or to express fully what we do know——even when theknowledge comes from direct experience. All human attempts toexpress the nature of death are necessarily incomplete andinevitably only half-articulated. Furthermore, the many criesof alarm in the story jar us from complacency and remind us ofthe lurking presence of death. Just as Ishmael warns of thedeceptive lull of a sailing ship and its dream-like statebecause with one false move and “with one half—throttled shriekyou drop through that transparent air into the summer sea, nomore to rise forever” (163), so too do the recurring distressingarticulations in the story remind us that human language isultimately powerless against the force of death.In addition to the aberrant speech heard throughout thevoyage, sometimes what may sound at first like nonsense turnsout to be truthful. The disreputable-looking stranger namedElijah who seems to be talking “gibberish” warns Ishmael andQueequeg of impending disaster before they embark on the Pequod,and he should have been heeded as a prophetic voice, but isignored instead (97). He sounds like a crazed voice crying outin the wilderness, but turns out to be a true prophet. In the146same way, the voice of the deranged cabin boy, Pip, sounds crazybut sometimes reveals wisdom. When he addresses Queequeg in hiscoffin, Pip’s speech is both lyrical and wild, promptingStarbuck to observe that sometimes:in violent fevers, men, all ignorance, have talked inancient tongues,’ and that when the mystery is probed,it turns out always that in their wholly forgottenchildhood those ancient tongues had really been spokenin their hearing by some lofty scholars. (488)Starbuck suggests that what sometimes sounds like lunacy is asophisticated language that we once knew but have forgotten.Like the “tongue of flame” in The Scarlet Letter, this is anancient language that the truly wise and eloquent can speak, alanguage sometimes spoken more fluently by children and mad menwho are more sensitive to human suffering. However, whileHawthorne’s ‘tongue of flame’ is associated with human passion,Melville’s fiery language is identified with violence.By demeaning writing and shifting the attention tospeaking, the action of Moby Dick metaphorically reflects theshift from the authority of the book to the authority of thevoice. However, ultimately, neither books nor voices can berelied on as sources of knowledge, for truth is ever on the moveand finally inaccessible. All that written and oral languagecan do is remind us of life’s mysteries.Character as Linquistic-Epistemic Philosophy-Just as the action reflects the relationship betweenlanguage and knowing, so too does the characterization revealevidence of this dynamic. Three characters are especially147important because of their pivotal roles and because they can bedefined in terms of their stance toward language and knowledge.Ishmael and Ahab represent the two most contrastive approachesto the use of language: Ishmael reflects the human urge to uselanguage to express our understandings publicly, while Ahabreflects the inclination to use language to generate ourunderstandings privately. Queequeg points to the use oflanguage for creating social identity and consensus.In historical terms, these characters embody the long—timetension between rhetoric and philosophy--a tension initiallyprompted by Plato’s concern with rhetoric’s relativisticview of truth. In 1828 the rhetorician Richard Whatelyexpressed an insistence on keeping these domains separate,saying that the purpose of philosophy was “the ascertainment ofthe truth by investigation,” while the function of rhetoric was“the establishment of it.”5 It is in the character of Ishmaelthat the distinction between philosophy and rhetoric completelycollapses because he uses language to ascertain truth in theprocess of establishing it. Furthermore, the character ofQueequeg is interesting in the way that it represents a modernvariation of this epistemic theme: the social construction oftruth by means of a dialogue with others. An examination ofthese three figures will reveal how their characterizations canbe defined in terms of these views of the role of language inthe discovery of truth.Ishmael illustrates both a philosophical and a rhetorical148stance in the way that he voices the human inclination to uselanguage both to investigate and to articulate life’s mysteries.The character of Ishmael embodies the view of life characterizedby a preoccupation with explaining the enigmas we encounter. Inhis role as narrator, he introduces himself as someone not onlyinclined to go to sea, but also as someone compelled to explainwhat he sees. He knows that when the “hypos” get the best ofhim, he must “account it high time to get to sea” (2). Promptedby this need to “account” for life, Ishmael represents therational thinker who constructs a text of logical explication ashe goes along. As part of this construction, he gathers otheraccounts along the way. Insistent on getting at the truth, hepushes the landlord of the Spouter Inn to get past hisbamboozling stories in telling of Queequeg’s whereabouts. Whenthe landlord finally does explain that Queequeg is out peddlinghis shrunken heads, “this account cleared up the otherwiseunaccountable mystery” (20), and Ishmael is satisfied for thetime being.Ishmael’s search for verbal explanations, however, isrelentless and never—ending. When he is lying in bed recallingthe terrifying experience he had as a child who was sent to bedand woke up to sense a supernatural presence in the room, themost frightening part of this memory seems to be that he wasunable to talk about it accurately. The “nameless” phantomremains terrifying mainly because it is an unspeakable terror(28), one that can not be articulated in words. That it cannot149be named and accounted for is Ishmael’s greatest fear. It is noaccident that Ishmael is the only one to survive, for, like Job,he has been designated as the one to live and tell about it.Melville uses Ishmael to acknowledge the human impulse to seeka public logos, to proclaim and publish what we know. ThatIshmael is never able to explain the mystery of the whalecompletely, but is destined to re—tell the story indefinitelydemonstrates the linguistic dilemma: No matter how much we keepwriting or talking, words can only re—name those “unspeakablephantoms”; they can never adequately explain them.In addition to representing the inclination to articulatepublicly as we seek to understand privately, Ishmael also standsfor the human propensity to revert to a reliance on visibletexts. Even though Ishmael cautions us against a dependency onbooks, he is always on the look—out for visible markers ofmeaning. He notes the tatoos on Queequeg’s cheeks and arms,their cryptic quality “an interminable Cretan labyrinth” (27);he can not resist reading them even while acknowledging theirhieroglyphic nature. He observes how Ahab’s brow is “dented”like the planks of the deck and like the brow of the whale.These dents assume significance and echo correspondences forhim: Not mere wrinkles these, but rather signifiers “full ofmeaning” (200) . Even though Ishmael confronts continualreminders that visible text inadequately conveys truth, he keepslooking to visible signs for guidance. Even though he admitsthat “there is no Champollion to decipher the Egypt of every150man’s and every being’s face” and questions “how may unletteredIshmael hope to read the awful Chaldee of the Sperm Whale’sbrow?” (358), he keeps trying to read these visible texts.While Ishmael exemplifies the use of language to articulatethe ways of the world for himself and others, Ahab demonstratesthe use of language to make sense of the ways of the world onlyfor himself. His maniacal compulsion to understand Moby Dick,to get at that “inscrutable thing,” propels his entireexistence, but the understanding he seeks is private. Ahab isdescribed from the outset as a man who “doesn’t speak much”(84), who is given to prolonged silences, and who is frequentlydescribed as sitting “mutely.” Cabin meals are described assolemn affairs “eaten in awful silence” and conducted by Ahab,“dumb” and presiding like “a mute, maned sealion” (152—3). Thesilence at the Captain’s table is so pervasive that it causesFlask to feel uncomfortable while sitting “dumfoundered beforeawful Ahab” (154). Ahab’s search for understanding is a silent,interior process in which he consults only himself, resistingconversations with others.In his propensity for silence, the figure of Ahabrepresents a private logos, the use of interior speech tounderstand the enigma of death without regard for sharing thatinformation with others. In contrast with Ishmael, he seeks tounderstand Moby Dick not so that he can account for the mysteryto others, but so that he can calm the passion that burns withinhim. His nionomaniacal behavior is exerted in an effort to slash151at the pasteboard masks of truth, so that when he is jerked“voicelessly” to his death, we cannot be sure what he does ordoes not understand.While Ishmael seeks to provide a public account and Ahabsearches for a personal understanding, Queequeg is a sociablefellow who seems more interested in collaborating on aconstruction of truth. Since he is illiterate, he must rely onhis experiences and conversations with others for information.He prepares sacrifices and converses with his gods (24), andlater receives some kind of oracular response regarding thechoice of a whaling vessel (69). Apparently, he is conversantwith divine voices and seems well—informed of spiritual truths,so that his illiteracy provides him some advantages. AfterQueegueg examines the book in the inn parlor by counting itspages rather than by reading its print, Ishmael tries to explainto him the meaning of the print and of the pictures in it. Thisconversation seems to bring the two closer together, as they endthe session pressing foreheads together in friendship, and laterhaving a cozy “chat” in bed (54-55). While literacy would haveallowed Queequeg to read the pages on his own, his conversationwith Ishmael proves beneficial to them both and creates a kindof marriage of minds. Queequeg represents the attempt todiscern truth by constructing it via a dialogue with others,thus suggesting that it is the process of interpretation thatunites us all. The fact that it is Queequeg’s coffin thatserves as a lifesaving buoy for Ishmael further suggests that152any public expression of truth relies on a social constructionof that which is individually articulated.In addition to these three basic philosophical stancestoward the function of language in the epistemic process, mostof the other characters can be defined by the texts that theychoose to use as glosses in reading the meaning of life.UNDERSTANDING IS READING works as the controlling metaphor sothat these characters operate metaphorically as readers, and thetexts they select merit inspection. Important to note here isthe way that the three mates all look to visible texts asglosses for their interpretive efforts: Starbuck to Christiansymbols, Stubb to natural signs, and Flask to monetary markers.Their attempts to decipher the text of the doubloon demonstratesthese various hermeneutic approaches, and their respectiveplaces in the crew’s chain of command suggests the hierarchy ofthese approaches.When the first mate, Starbuck, reads the coin, he sees theChristian symbol of the trinity and observes a wise and sadtruth (442). For Starbuck, the Bible is still the primarysource of authority and Christian symbols the most importantsignifiers. This reliance on Scripture as a source of truth isdemonstrated to an even greater degree in the character ofCaptain Bildad, who is portrayed as a student of the Scripturesand a man who abides by the letter of the law. When he talkswith Captain Peleg about Ishmael’s wages, he has his head in hisBible and keeps “mumbling to himself out of his book,” unable to153free himself from the constraints of print. His unrealisticwage offer reflects how out of touch he is, and his perverseliteralness, like Dimmesdale’s, suggests the inadequacy of theBible as a source of truth. Just as his sister Charity’sparting gift of a Bible fails to save the Pequod fromdestruction, and just as Starbuck’s attention to only Christiansymbols fails to save his life, so too does Holy Scripture failto provide a sufficient gloss for deciphering the enigmas oflife.When the second mate, Stubb, reads the same coin, heinterprets it according to the zodiac and consults his almanacfor the appropriate constellations. For Stubb, NATURE IS A BOOKand he searches the skies for clues, insisting that “There’s asermon now, writ in high heaven” (443). This same ontologicalmetaphor is reflected in the many expressions that Ishamelresorts to in describing the whale as a piece of writing. Inciting his credentials for composing a cetology, he notes thatthe whale—ship has been his “Yale College” and “Harvard” (115),and that his experience was gained as he “swam throughlibraries” (135), implying that the whale itself has been hisprimary textbook. Other expressions used in reference towhales also reflect the WHALE AS A BOOK:thou Chilian whale, marked like an old tortoise withmystic hieroglyphics upon the back! (207)It was Moby Dick’s open mouth and scrolled jaw (550)how may unlettered Ishmael hope to read the awfulChaldee of the Sperm Whale’s brow? I but put thatbrow before you. Read it if you can. (358)154In this way, UNDERSTANDING IS READING entails that whales arewritten texts with marks that are to be read, at the same timethat these marks are acknowledged to be cryptic. The markingson the whales’ exteriors are like “those mysterious cyphers onthe walls of pyramids”; they are ultimately undecipherable(315).Just as reading the marble tablets in the chapel does notexplain the deaths of the sailors lost at sea, neither doesreading the living text of Moby Dick account for the tragediessurrounding him. Although the “scrolled” quality of the greatwhale’s jaw, as its “mouth yawned beneath the boat like an open—doored marble tomb” (550), suggests the revelation of someimperial decree, some kind of authorial account, the creatureserves only as a marbled entry into death, not as an explanationof it. Ultimately, the natural text, like every other visibletext, is inscrutable--despite Ishmael’s taunt to “Read it if youcan” (358). Even though the “waves are storied” (270), noreader is expert enough to translate their tales, so that somegloss other than the natural text is required.The third mate, Flask, looks at the doubloon and sees“nothing here but a round thing made of gold” and immediatelytranslates it into the commodities it would buy, specifically,960 cigars. Here we have the mercantile view, which uses themarketplace as the source of authority; monetary worth is thetouchstone of value (444); LIFE IS A PRECIOUS POSSESSION, anddeath is understood as the loss of that wealth.6 In this view,155the whale is more of a product to be peddled and, like the bookin the nineteenth—century economy, a commodity to be used.Furthermore, Flask’s lowest rank in the chain—of—commandintimates Melville’s ranking of this economic view of life.In addition to the glosses of Christianity, Nature, and themarketplace, a fourth text sometimes chosen is the human one,where A HUMAN LIFE IS A BOOK. Ahab and Queequeg often serve ashuman texts that are “full of meaning” but, like the whale,finally undecipherable. Ahab’s text is described as “full ofriddles” (129) and sinister where SIN IS A MARK, as reflected inthe description of his scar as a “brand”/”mark” (125). Incontrast to the human author, some supernatural writer composesthis cryptic text so that at one point “it almost seemed thatwhile he [Ahab) himself was marking out lines and courses on thewrinkled charts, some invisible pencil was also tracing linesand courses upon the deeply marked chart of his forehead” (200).Here then is a human work in progress-—if only some Champollioncould decipher the marks. Queequeg is also portrayed as a text:so Queequeg in his own proper person was a riddle tounfold; a wondrous work in one volume; but whosemysteries not even himself could read . . . and thesemysteries were therefore destined in the end tomoulder away with the living parchment whereon theywere inscribed. (490)And like Ahab, what Queequeg writes sometimes replicates thetext on his own person, so that when he carves certain“hieroglyphic marks” on his coffin lid “it seemed that hereby hewas striving, in his rude way, to copy parts of the twistedtattooing on his body.” Furthermore, the tattooing on both the156coffin lid and on Queequeg’s person seems to comprise some“mystical treatise on the art of attaining truth”-—if onlysomeone could decipher it (490). Finally, though, the humantext is inadequate as a source of truth because there is no oneable to decode it successfully. None of these glosses issufficient.Profound and Intertextual SilenceSo we see that, as in the other three works in this study,UNDERSTANDING IS READING emerges as a controlling metaphor andreflects the disparagement of the visible text as a tempting,but inadequate, source of truth. Operating in tension with thereading metaphor is UNDERSTANDING IS LISTENING. However, unlikethe other three metaphorical designs, in the figurative schemeof Moby Dick, NATURE IS A LISTENER more often than a speaker.In contrasting the whale’s breathing apparatus with that ofhumans, Ishmael calls attention to the fact that “the whale hasno voice” and implies an admiration for the capacity of this“profound being” to be silent. This ability to listen, ratherthan to speak, is associated with the natural world: “happythat the world is such an excellent listener!” (381).Moby Dick, like Ahab, is associated with silence. UnlikeIshmael who is eager to articulate, they are characterized asincommunicative. However, as the cloud of vapor which hangsover the whale’s head and which is “engendered by hisincommunicable contemplations” indicates, silence does notnecessarily mean a void. In fact, Melville seems to be157addressing the reader directly when he states an associationbetween being silent and being profound: “Seldom have I knownany profound being that has anything to say to this world,unless forced to stammer out something by way of getting aliving” (381). In this way, silence is often associated with adepth of thinking, and the mark of a profound creature is oftenthat it understands that it cannot understand, and thus hassense enough to be quiet. If only “certain” truths beararticulation, then what is there to say? Moby Dick may besilent, “But then again, what has the whale to say?”——whennothing can be known for certain.Silence is also used in connection with weaving images,which recalls Hawthorne’s fabric imagery in the way that itdraws on the meaning of “text” as “weaving.” The first timethat this weaving imagery is noticeable is when Queequeg andIshmael are working together to weave a “sword—mat,” withIshmael using his hand as a shuttle and Queegueg his sword as abeater. Here TIME IS A LOOM and HUMAN DESTINY IS A WEAVING,with a warp of “necessity” and a woof of “free will”——all packeddown with “chance.” Noteworthy here is the way that theseweavers work in silence and in a context with “such anincantation of revery [that) lurked in the air, that each silentsailor seemed resolved into his own invisible self” (218).Although their weaving is termed a “sword mat,” the associationwith “word mat” is worth noting, and the conspicuous absence ofwords calls attention to itself. This silent weaving continues158until Tashtego’s “unearthly” cry alerts them to the firstsighting of sperm whales. In this scene, the action and theimagery work metaphorically to demonstrate how humans spin their(silent) texts of explanation until some supernatural forcereminds them of the inexplicable forces that surround them.While the sailors seem to be creating an internal text ofexplanation, the external text is created silently.Another cluster of weaving images is even more noteworthyin the way that it interrelates human and natural texts togetherwith words. In this figurative scheme, God is portrayed as aweaver. When Pip falls overboard and “is carried down alive towondrous depths,” he goes to where Wisdom “revealed his hoardedheaps” and sees “God’s foot on the treadle of the loom, andspoke it” (425). The syntax is noticeably ambiguous here withno clear antecedent for the “it” that Pip spoke. We are left topuzzle over what weaving he saw on this divine loom, what “It”he spoke, and how he “spoke” something visual. We are leftwondering because even though Pip is privy to the divine textand even articulates it, he is called mad and no one attends tohis words.This weaving imagery assumes even greater significancelater when Ishmael recalls “A Bower in the Arsacides,” whichprovides a coda for both the images of weaving and of silence.Ishmael relates how a certain friend of his, King Tranquo, hadcreated a kind of temple from the skeleton of a beached whale.In describing this unusual whale temple, Ishmael tells how the159earth beneath the skeleton was like a weaver’s loom with theground vines forming the warp and woof and the flowers thefigures on the weaving. The trees, ferns, shrubs, and grasseswere all part of the verdant pattern, and even the message—carrying air was active in the fabric, as the sun served as aflying shuttle weaving all the natural world together. Althoughthe loom and weaving are visible, the divine weaver is invisibleand silent. The natural loom produces a lush fabric, but thecreative project exacts a toll of deafness on its creator.This weaving metaphor provides an epistemic analogue to theprocess of making meaning and discerning it. The creative forcebehind the universe mechanically produces all visible objectswithout reflection or comment——like the ship’s carpenter——”by akind of deaf and dumb, spontaneous literal process” (477). Thiscreative force does not hear human inquiries into truth, nordoes it explain its workings to the earth’s inhabitants.Moreover, mortals within this system are incapable of hearingany explanations anyway. The description here is of a worldwhere the forces are furiously at work, and no one within theworld can hear the woven voices of explanation:The weaver—god, he weaves; and by that weaving is hedeafened, that he hears no mortal voice; and by thathumming, we, too, who look on the loom are deafened;and only when we escape it shall we hear the thousandvoices that speak through it. . . . The spoken wordsthat are inaudible among the flying spindles; thosesame words are plainly heard without the walls,bursting from the opened casements. . . . Ah, mortal!then, be heedful; for so, in all this din of the greatworld’s loom, thy subtlest thinkings may be overheardafar. (459—460)160As it is in the skeletal temple, so too is it in the human realmwhere truth is inaccessible, so that we can only hear the voiceof truth if we are outside the world of its speaker. Since wecan only know and understand if we are apart from that creation,only death can bring true knowledge.Embedded in this woven imagery of the bower is a warningabout the danger of thinking that either writing or speech cancreate understanding. The imagery points to the temptation tosee the visible text as a creative force in itself. Just as thepriests kept a flame going within the whale’s head in the bowerto make it look as if he were still sending forth a livingspout, we humans sometimes mistake visible signs as the gods,the creative forces, when they are merely idle participants inlife’s text. Similarly, the speaking imagery reflects how theremay be communicative forces at work, but they are “inaudible” tous because we are too close to the sounds of truth to hear them.And by a curious synesthetic twist, what we see can deafen us.Pyramidical Silence and the Inadequacy of LanguageThe combination of visual and auditory imagery in theweaving metaphor generates this mixed sensation of a sight that,though inaudible, can communicate with us. Though silent, itcan signify. Furthermore, like the pyramid with itshieroglyphic exterior markings that provide clues but nosolution, it is both significant and cryptic in its silence. Inthis way, UNDERSTANDING IS READING and UNDERSTANDING ISLISTENING combine to generate KNOWLEDGE IS SILENCE. Although we161often take “understanding” and “knowledge” to be the same thing,I am accentuating a distinction between them here. With anemphasis on its gerundive form, “understanding” refers to theprocess by which we come to know, just as reading and listeningare language processes. In contrast, “knowledge” here refers tothe product of this epistemic process, just as silence resultsfrom a deliberate cessation in the language process. As anontological metaphor, KNOWLEDGE IS SILENCE highlights knowledgeas a distinct state of being and thus provides for anidentification of that aspect of the epistemic process whenthere is a pause, when there is some ultimate moment of insight.Since these processes are continuous and recursive, the image ofsilence allows us to understand knowledge by perceiving it as adiscrete entity. While the two structural metaphors help us tounderstand the process of coming to know in terms of theprocesses of reading and writing, the ontological metaphor helpsus to understand the result of this process in terms of silence.KNOWLEDGE IS SILENCE is reflected in a notable way in thedescription of the great whale’s mark of genius: “Genius in theSperm Whale? Has the Sperm Whale ever written a book, spoken aspeech? No, his great genius is declared in his pyramidicalsilence” (356). Pyramidical silence is the silence of Moby Dickand of Ahab. It is the result of understanding that we can notunderstand. Like the hieroglyphics on the pyramid walls,silence marks the place where knowledge is, but it does notcommunicate it. In the metaphorical scheme of Moby Dick, much162energy is spent demonstrating the inadequacy of language eitherto investigate or to express truth. Writing, in the form ofhieroglyphic texts, only records the mysteries; even speech, asrepresented by the way the many voices cancel each other out,cannot completely retrieve or express truth. Half—articulationsand voices in conflict can intimate the process, but onlysilence can demonstrate the result: the knowledge that we knowthat we can not know. As a medium both of communication and ofinvestigation, expressed language is flawed. Ultimately, theonly image that can satisfactorily help us structure the elusivenature of truth is silence. To extend Burke’s definition ofliterary form in terms of arousing and gratifying desires,7 themetaphorics of word generates a figurative need and thenprovides the image to satisfy it: silence.In this scheme, silence is the auditory counterpart towhiteness, where whiteness is the absence of color and silencethe absence of sound. At the same time, both whiteness andsilence are “full of meaning” and yet, in their simultaneousfullness and emptiness, cannot be completely understood. “Itwas the whiteness of the whale that above all things appalled”Ishmael (189) because the whiteness represents both the presenceand the inaccessibility of truth. It is not a void, but ablank; it is not a nothing, but a something. Whiteness isterrifying because it represents the place where a recognitionof truth resides, but where it cannot be reached.Similarly, pyramidical silence represents both the presence163and absence of truth. It points to a silence that is sosubstantial that it is curiously visible. A phrase like “thesounds of silence” indicates this same kind of auditory qualitythat is characterized by the imperceptible presence ofsomething. In this metaphorical scheme, paradoxically, theblanks and pauses represent the most meaningful clues we have,and the only final understanding is the one voiced by Ahabbefore the sphynx of the whale’s head: “0 Nature, and 0 soul ofman! how far beyond all utterance are your linked analogies”(321)The value of the mixed metaphor, as reflected in the phrase“pyramidical silence,” is that it combines both the visual andauditory images and collapses the reading and listeningmetaphors into one. If this collapse were expressed as astructural metaphor, it would be KNOWING IS READING SILENCE.And it is this oxymoronic metaphor of expressed silence whichemerges from the metaphorics of word as the most creativemetaphor and one that deserves further treatment. Although usedmost conspicuously by Melville, it operates in all four texts inthis study and is the subject of my next chapter.164chapter 5 Notes1. Herman Melville, Moby-Dick; Or, The Whale, p. 135. Allsubsequent page citations are in the text.2. Bruce L. Grenberg, Some Other World to Find: Quest andNegation in the Works of Herman Melville, p. 108.3. Michael Gilmore, American Romanticism and the Marketplace, p.128.4. See Sander Gilman, Carole Blair, and David J. Parent’sIntroduction to Friedrich Nietzsche on Rhetoric and Language,p. xiv, for a discussion of Nietzsche’s view in The Will toPower “that to interpret a thing was to become master ofit.”5. Richard Whately, Elements of Rhetoric, 281.6. See George Lakoff and Mark Turner, More Than Cool Reason, pp.29-30, for a discussion of this metaphor, LIFE IS A PRECIOUSPOSSESSION.7. Kenneth Burke, Counter-Statement, p. 124.165Chapter 6THE LITERACY OF SILENCEExpressed SilenceThus far, my study of a metaphorics of word has focused onthe way that expressed language--both written andoral——functions metaphorically in the selected nineteenth—century American texts. With (RATIONAL) UNDERSTANDING ISREADING and (INTUITIVE) UNDERSTANDING IS LISTENING designated asthe two controlling metaphors of word, this discussion hasdemonstrated how language processes serve as source domains forunderstanding epistemic processes. Given this metaphoricalstructure, I have concentrated on the way in which speakingimagery is aligned with intuition--the mode of knowing preferredby this culture——and on the way that the voice occupies aprivileged place in this metaphorical system. However, anothersignificant aspect of this metaphorical action, alluded to butnot yet accounted for and not as readily explained, is the roleof expressed silence. Moreover, it is the nature and use ofthis expressed silence as a metaphor of word that I find mostintriguing in the texts under investigation.Frequently in the subject texts, attention is called tosilence and to the expressive quality of this silence, the wayin which it seems to convey meaning. Noticeable is the way thatthis silence does not seem to be construed as a void——a total166absence of language——so much as the presence of the absence oflanguage. Furthermore, silence is often accompanied by literarycontexts in which self—revelation takes place. Here silencefunctions as a marker of self—knowledge, and attending tosilence represents a state of self—consciousness, a state ofbeing, where the self regressively attends to what the selfknows about the self.’ Metaphorically, then, SELF-KNOWLEDGE ISSILENCE and CONSCIOUS SELF-KNOWING IS READING/LISTENING TOSILENCE. Since silence is a constituent in both writing andspeaking, this silence structural metaphor and its relatedontological metaphor can be viewed as satellites of both thereading and the listening structural metaphors.In identifying this silence metaphor in which silence andthe self are involved, I have replaced the word understanding,which is used to express the reading and listening metaphors,with knowing. As I mentioned at the conclusion of the lastchapter, understanding and knowing are often used synonymously,but I am using them to describe a distinction that I believeemerges in the metaphorical worlds of these literary texts;namely, that understanding refers to an epistemic process ofdiscovering truth, with knowledge as the resulting product, andthat conscious knowing refers to a state of beina (howevertransitory) when the epistemic search ceases. The phraseconscious knowing, then, refers to a heightened state ofself—consciousness where understanding and being merge. I use“knowing” here to call attention to the way that the metaphor of167silence emerging in these texts highlights self-knowledge. Inthis system, the image of silence is a way of representing boththe epistemic process itself and those fleeting moments of self—revelation that are sometimes achieved.In order to illustrate how this unusual silence metaphor isrealized in the metaphorical systems of each text, I have chosena particular linguistic expression from each text simply as away of distinguishing them: from Nature——”mute gospel,” fromWalden——”a harmony inaudible,” from The Scarlet Letter——”avoice.. .which could not as yet find utterance,” and from MobyDick--”pyramidical silence.” In all of the texts, silencemarks the knowledge of some particularly elusive truth regardingthe self: for Emerson, it is knowledge of the ‘God within’; forThoreau, of the potential for self-liberation in the company ofothers; for Hawthorne, of personal passion and suffering; andfor Melville, of the limits of what we can know about our owndestiny. Important here is the contrast between a public logoswhere expressed language is used to discover and articulatetruth and a private logos where expressed silence is associatedwith interior speech and is used to mark that inaccessible stateof being where epistemic activity pauses and self—consciousnessemerges. Therefore, in this metaphorics of word, the process ofreading and listening to silence operates metaphorically torepresent the process by which an individual’s epistemic questmerges with self—awareness: CONSCIOUS SELF—KNOWING ISREADING/LISTENING TO SILENCE.168Furthermore, it is important to emphasize that when thesilence metaphor is realized in structural terms (KNOWING ISREADING/LISTENING TO SILENCE), it entails seeing somethinginvisible and hearing something inaudible, prompting aninterpretive dilemma that is resolved differently in each text.There is a progression in the figurative use of silence in thefour subject texts so that the silence moves from being audibleto being visible, and the process of consciousness moves fromhearing silence to seeing silence. In the first three texts,the key figurative expression of silence is made more inauditory terms, as sounds of silence: “a MUTE GOSPEL,” “HARMONYINAUDIBLE,” and “a VOICE . . . which could not as yet findUTTERANCE” all highlight the auditory nature of the silence.However, in Moby Dick, the silence is so substantial that it isexpressed in visual terms, as solid as a tomb: “PYRAMIDICALsilence.”The lexical categories used to express the silence in thesekey phrases also reflect this increasingly significant role sothat in Nature and Walden, the silence is expressed inadjectival forms: “mute” and “inaudible”; in The Scarlet Letter,it is evident as a verb: “could not as yet find utterance”; andin Moby Dick, the silence is expressed lexically as a noun:“pyramidical silence.” In its adjectival form, the silenceplays a modifying role, describing a prominent noun; in itsverbal form, the silence plays a more central syntactical role,providing the action; and in its nominal form, the silence169achieves ontological status——naming an entity. Before examiningthese text—specific expressions of expressed silence moreclosely, I want to establish certain observations about thenature of expressed silence.‘The Semantics of Silence’Although the experiential theorists Lakoff, Johnson, andTurner do not address silence as a metaphor per Se, i willcontinue to rely on their treatment of metaphor because itaffords a way of discerning the systematic way that silencefunctions conceptually in a metaphorics of word. By focusing onthe use of silence as a metaphor, I mean to suggest what its useindicates about the reading and listening metaphors as well.As Jeff Verschueren has noted, silence is a “usually unnoticedand rarely appreciated” kind of linguistic action at the sametime as it is the most deserving of further attention because ofwhat it reveals about the rest of the system.2 Silence, as ametaphor of word, is deserving of further attention because itreveals to what an extent these texts were engaged with therelationship between language and knowledge, especially in termsof self—revelation. My main assumption about silence is that itis meaningful and that it accrues multiple meanings as afunction of its recurring use in various contexts involving theself. As I examine its patterned use in each text, I willsuggest how silence functions in a metaphorics of word.Before examining particular linguistic expressions of thesilence metaphor in each text, a distinction needs to be drawn170between the two main categories of silence under perusal here.I use “speaking silence” to refer to those situations in whichwords are used, but the overall effect is inaudible, and“unspeaking silence” to refer to those places where no words orsounds of any kind are evident. Speaking silence operates asinner speech, when the active investigation of truth seemsprominent; unspeaking silence emerges when a more passive stateof knowing prevails. However, it is important to note that thisdistinction, like Vygotsky’s characterization of inner speechitself, is a “fluttering”3 one because the metaphorical effectemerges over the discourse and does not reside in any singlelinguistic unit. Both kinds of silence reflect a private logos,an individual’s epistemic status, but they differ in the waythat they emphasize either a time of active exploration or astate of being. The overall rhetorical effect is that one kindof silence influences another so that the relationship betweenlanguage and knowing becomes associated with all silence. Indiscussing the silence in each text, I will draw upon thisdistinction between speaking and unspeaking silence whenever itserves to clarify the metaphorical action.Emerson indicates his inclination toward solitude andsilence when he admits at the beginning of Chapter One that heis not solitary as long as he reads and writes and encourageshis audience to retire from all linguistic contacts with others(8). Later on, in chapter seven, he clarifies the value ofsilence when he advises that “Of that ineffable essence which we171call Spirit, he that thinks most will say least” (37). Incalling for solitude and encouraging silence, he aligns seriousthinking with silence and, if we want to interpret the“ineffable” spirit both within the natural world and withinourselves, suggests that we would do well to keep still. In themetaphorical action of Nature, KNOWLEDGE OF THE INNER SPIRIT ISSILENCE and SELF-CONSCIOUSLY KNOWING THE INNER SPIRIT ISLISTENING TO SILENCE. For Emerson’s translative project,seeking silence is akin to seeking knowledge of that divineSpirit that exists in both Nature and in the individual. InNature, therefore, silence accrues positive associations in itslink with the pursuit of knowing about the “God within.”Such a quest requires a regard for silence and anunderstanding of its value—-an attitude which Emerson implieswhen he describes looking out at the “silent sea” and taking inits “active enchantment.” In linguistic expressions such asthis, unspeaking silence points to an interior calm in the faceof an exterior “active” meaning. Instead of portraying silenceas a void, Emerson suggests that silence can be vitallymeaningful and can even be more significant than expressedlanguage when he asks, “Was there no meaning in the live reposeof the valley behind the mill, and which Homer or Shakespearecould not re—form for me in words?” With this rhetoricalquestion, he acknowledges that even though silence can not be“re—formed” into words, it is meaningful. There is no need forverbal action here; the symbolic action occurs in the landscape172itself. He calls further attention to the significance of thissilent scene when he notes that “every withered stem and stubblerimed with frost, contribute something to the mute music” (14).Attuned to the expressed silence in Nature, Emerson can hear itsharmony and urges us to listen, too. All of the natural worldis “contributing” to a concert that is curiously “mute,” and anyobserver who has the self—knowledge to understand intuitivelycan hear this sound. The muteness marks the poet’s intuitiveunderstanding——conscious knowing that cannot be expressed. Onekind of silence image, then, is this paradoxical one thatprovides for an unspeaking silence, a mute sound that can,nevertheless, be heard. Since knowledge of the inner Spirit isnot available to the individual through the traditional kinds oflinguistic action, it requires an unorthodox, oxymoronic imageby which silence resonates and is heard.Moreover, it is not the voice of Nature that instructshumans as much as the interior, silent dialogue between theSpirit in the natural world and the Spirit within the self. TheSpirit in the self says, “In such as this, have I found andbeheld myself. I will speak to it. It can speak again” (28).In this exchange, speaking silence occurs so that the “I” andthe “it” speak as voices of the Spirit, conversing in an innerconversation and reflecting the soul’s active effort to realizeits own divine self. It is from this silent dialogue that theself says, “‘From such as this, have I drawn joy and knowledgeIt can yield me thought already formed and alive”173(28). Highlighted here is the epistemic function of silence inallowing the individual to know the Spirit; normal linguisticaction cannot adequately represent the influence of the “Me” onthe “Me,” so silence works metaphorically to reflect this activeprocess of self—awareness. And “Thus is the unspeakable butintelligible and practicable meaning of the world conveyed toman” (29) in terms of speaking silence. As a singular metaphorof word, expressed silence provides a way for language——evenwhen it is expressed inaudibly in the form of speaking silence--to represent the epistemic process.For Emerson, silence is a useful figure in representing hisdistress over the inadequacy of language in translating the “Godwithin,” in demonstrating that “when we try to define anddescribe himself [God], both language and thought desert us”(37). As Emerson acknowledges elsewhere, “Good as is discourse,SILENCE IS BETTER, and shames it”4--at least when it comes torepresenting knowledge of the individual Spirit. The challengeof expressing this invisible and inaudible “God within” requiressome image that is conspicuous in its absence; silence is justthe image. This need for something besides the usual modes ofdiscourse is evident in Emerson’s continual call for a kind ofsixth sense. In describing the “integrity of impression” foundin Nature, Emerson implies that it cannot be perceived by onesense only and must be discerned by integrating the senses toform a single, unified impression. From the beginning to theend of Nature, Emerson insists that normal sight is inadequate174arid calls for a new kind of inner sight (7), a perception likethe sight of children by which the sun “shines into the eye andthe heart” (9). In rejecting mere sight, Emerson envisions somekind of extrasensory ideal:The kingdom of man over nature, which cometh not withobservation,——a dominion such as now is beyond hisdream of God,—--he shall enter without more wonder thanthe blind man feels who is gradually restored toperfect sight. (45)In order to incorporate the outer and inner spiritual realms andexperience the wonder characteristic of such perfect perception,Emerson proposes the need for an ability to receive sightsinteriorly, as if they were sounds——to see with an inner ear.This connection between visual and auditory perception isestablished more formally in one of Emerson’s more strikingcorrespondences: “The law of harmonic sounds reappears in theharmonic colors,” providing for a resemblance between theimpression created by sounds and that created by colors. Inthis way, musical notes can be perceived as both sounds andvisual images. This synesthetic image, blending the visual andthe auditory, provides some relief to the tension prompted byEmerson’s frequent advice to use picturesque language at thesame time as he sometimes resorts to the language of silence.Sound, when portrayed as both a visible and auditory phenomenon,provides a way for silence (as the absence of sound) to berepresented as both visible and audible.Such a regard for the simultaneous use of both senses,seeing and hearing, often results in these synesthetic175expressions involving silence. In the description of the silentscene mentioned above, there is evidence of this synestheticimagery: “From the earth, as a shore, I look out into thatsilent sea” (13). In this way, he calls attention to the factthat he looks and sees silence. And when he describes the“mute music” in this natural scene, he notes how each naturalsight contributes to its lyrical silence (14). Similarly, thenatural flora create a visible timepiece that is also capable ofcommunicating silently: “The succession of native plants in thepastures and road-sides, which make the silent clock by whichtime tells the summer hours, will make even the divisions of theday sensible to a keen observer” (14). Here the visible,natural clock silently “tells” the time to an “observer” who iscapable of both hearing and seeing the silence. The synestheticquality of the imagery even involves the simultaneous use ofsight, hearing, and touch so that “The western clouds dividedand subdivided themselves into pink flakes modulated with tintsof unspeakable softness” (14). For the truly expert translator,the “lesson of worship” provided by the natural world (37) isthat a superior kind of mixed sensory perception is required“since every object rightly seen, unlocks a new faculty of thesoul” (23), and such a mixed faculty requires a mixed metaphor.The combined visual and auditory imagery in terms ofsilence works to define the superior sense that is required forperceiving the “God within.” However, Emerson emphasizes theremarkable nature of this perception in saying that “When in176fortunate hours we ponder this miracle [the relation betweenmind and matter], the wise man doubts, if, at all other times,he is not blind and deaf” (22). We are advised, then, thatthis knowledge of the Spirit is elusive and reserved for thosespecial moments and for those special people who can both seeand hear the divine silence——for those mystical moments whenhumans are allowed to glimpse the ‘God within’. In this way,the silences in Nature seem to be under God’s control, andfortunate are those moments when humans are allowed to hearthem. Like God’s word, silence is divinely revealed in theseinstances. Emerson implies the sacred association with silencewhen he advises that “All things with which we deal, preach tous: What is a farm but a mute gospel?” (26). Here, unspeakingsilence suggests how every natural object conveys the intuitedmoral law, but these moral lessons are silent sermons and cannotbe conveyed/received through usual linguistic means. When theindividual experiences this awareness of the Spirit in the outerand inner worlds, no words are necessary, for the process isdivinely facilitated. The Spirit in the outer worldcommunicates with the Spirit in the inner world, and silencemarks these divine exchanges.Nature is represented as the mouthpiece of the “Godwithout,” the voice of the preacher, and its “muteness” requiresan active receiver in the human ear, in the “God within.” Thisreliance on the human potential for attending to the silentsounds articulated through natural objects is evident when177Emerson states that “Words and actions are not the attributes ofmute and brute nature” and when he describes humans as “fardifferent from the deaf and dumb nature around them” (28). Onlyhumans possess the potential for seeing and hearing the homiliespreached around them and within them because only humans possessthe ability to be God-like and to know about the Spirit, and itis the human capacity both to be and know that Emerson praises.Therefore, humans need to resort to inner speech at times inorder to realize this potential. As the epigram taken fromPlotinus which Robert Spiller chooses for his Introduction toNature states, “Nature is but an image or imitation of wisdom,the last thing of the soul; nature being a thing which doth onlydo, but not know” (1). Nature is put in its epistemologicalplace here, for it can “not know” as humans can, and it is thishuman capacity both for knowing and for knowing that we knowthat Emerson cares so much about.This epistemic duality relies on the individual potentialto intuit the Spirit independent of the usual sensoryinformation, a faculty which Emerson philosophically terms “theeye of Reason” (30); religiously calls the “Supreme Being”acting from within (38); and poetically describes as the abilityto “tread on air” (35). While complete knowledge is reservedfor the mind of God, Emerson’s metaphorical scheme provides forthose fleeting and “fortunate” moments when individuals can seeand hear silence, when the Spirit intimates itself, and theindividual can simultaneously be and know. While not all human178beings may possess the faculty to translate this mute gospel,they are sometimes allowed to hear it and should strain to doso.In “The American Scholar,” Emerson echoes this need forattending to silence when he describes the ideal student:In silence . . . let him hold by himself. . . . Hethen learns that in going down into the secrets of hisown mind, he has descended into the secrets of allminds. He learns that he who has mastered any law inhis private thoughts, is master to that extent of allmen whose language he speaks, and of all into whoselanguage his own can be translated.5In this passage, speaking silence reflects the idea that byattending to our own silent, interior dialogues, we can beconfident that this private logos is primary and can betranslated into a public logos when necessary.Emerson further cautions the scholar that even though hedistrusts at first the fitness of his frankconfessions . . . the deeper he dives into hisprivatest secretest presentiment,——to his wonder hefinds, this is the most acceptable, most public, anduniversally true. . . . This is my music; this ismyself. (63)By calling these talks with the self “confessions,” Emersonhighlights the spiritual nature of these inner dialogues and theimportance of this speaking silence.At the same time, by calling this private speech a musicalversion of the self, he elicits a correspondence with the “mutemusic” of the natural world. This conversation of the self indialogue with the Spirit, as described in “The AmericanScholar,” is marked by the same lyrical quality whichcharacterizes the movement of the Spirit in Nature: “so shall179the advancing spirit create its ornaments along its path, andcarry with it the beauty it visits, and the song which enchantsit” (45). Just as the Spirit in Nature advances by means of itssong, it is our inner music that moves us along. Moreover, “itis certain that the power to produce this delight, does notreside in nature, but in man, or in a harmony of both” (10). InNature, the presence of the “God within” is marked by thismusical imagery, and the self—conscious recognition of itspresence is expressed by attending to the accompanying silence.In the next section, I will explore how this silent harmony alsoresounds in the metaphorical world of Walden.Like Emerson, Thoreau expresses a high regard for silence——except that Thoreau urges that it be cultivated in the presenceof others. When he insists on the need for adequate space inconversing with visitors at his home on Walden Pond, heunderscores the need for silence in the company of others:If we would enjoy the most intimate society with thatin each of us which is without, or above, being spokento, we must not only be silent, but commonly so farapart bodily that we cannot possibly hear each other’svoice in any case. (141)In this curiously intimate exchange, the participants are urgedto sit at an adequate distance from one another and to besilent. Here, unspeaking silence points to the epistemic stateof calm that exists when two people simply “be” together.Furthermore, the silence is a natural part of this exchange,since “speech is for the convenience of those who are hard ofhearing” (141), and silence for the pleasure of those who have180already heard, who already “know.”Of further interest in this passage is the way thatspeaking silence also operates so that the “intimate society”being enjoyed here refers to the relationship between the selfand the self, “with that in each of us which is without”(emphasis added) at the same time as it suggests therelationship between the self and another person. Thoreau seemsto be describing an exchange where the individual is talking tohimself in the presence of someone else. The effect of usingboth kinds of silence here is to recommend an exchange whichallows the person the freedom to attend to internal speech whileostensibly attending to the external world. The silence marksthe knowledge of this inner liberated self, and hearing thesilence signals an awareness of this inner freedom. In themetaphorics of Walden, KNOWLEDGE OF PERSONAL FREEDOM IS SILENCEand SELF-CONSCIOUSLY KNOWING PERSONAL FREEDOM IS LISTENING TOSILENCE.While this hypothetical dialogue with its metaphoricalimplications might seem just a curiosity presented in Thoreau’stypically whimsical style, he also illustrates this same silentmodel with an example of an exchange that he sometimes had witha man who fished on a nearby pond. This situation provided thenecessary space: The fisherman sat at one end of the boat, andThoreau at the other. It also involved the necessary silence:Because the fisherman had gone deaf, he would occasionally huma psalm, while Thoreau sat in silence. While we might be181tempted to think of this absence of speech as simply a pause inthe conversation, Thoreau emphasizes his admiration for itsunbroken silence: “Our intercourse was thus altogether one ofunbroken harmony, far more pleasing to remember than if it hadbeen carried on by speech” (174). In this passage, it is theunspeaking silence that is valued, and it is the silence whichprovides the pleasing harmony--intimating the epistemic calm ofsimply being.Like Emerson’s use of “mute music,” Thoreau employs anoxymoronic image of silent harmony by which the individual isurged to hear an inner silence expressed as a song with nowords. However, unlike Emerson, Thoreau does not need to retirefrom other people in order to hear the soundless harmony. Infact, he suggests that our most intimate exchanges with the selfcan be made in the company of others——jr we listen to our ownmute music. For Thoreau, silence marks the knowledge of ourindividual potential to be free, and hearing this silence is away of representing the individual’s recognition of this powerfor self—liberation. Since Walden centers on this theme ofliberating oneself from the influences of others, it stands toreason that silence in the presence of others is valued.Thoreau’s use of silence reflects his concern with a higherorder of understanding than that which human language can conveyand than that which most people can articulate. While peopleare capable of recognizing the extent of their personal liberty,most do not. Instead of attending to their own potential, most182people work to exert their influence over others, so thatThe only cooperation which is commonly possible isexceedingly partial and superficial; and what littletrue cooperation there is, is as if it were not, beinga harmony inaudible to men. (71)Here again, unspeaking silence in the image of a silent song isused to represent the self—knowledge that remains imperceptibleto most people: being free means resisting the tyranny ofothers, but it does not preclude cooperation.Even though this silent truth eludes most of us, themetaphorics of Walden continually privileges a private logos bywhich the individual attempts to hearken to an inner, silentvoice. In recalling the incident of John Farmer who sits downin the doorway of his house “to recreate his intellectual man,”Thoreau embodies in this character, who seems more mythical thanreal, a recommendation of the benefits of silent speech. Farmeris described hearing a voice speak to him, asking why hecontinues to stay in such a mean life. Here the inner voice,the one unheard by the rest of the world, speaks inaudibly as asimple man tries to find a sense of his place in the world.This anecdote is noteworthy in the way that Farmer representsEveryman’s attempt to recognize self—worth via a private talkwith the self. Furthermore, Farmer’s inner voice ischaracterized by that same pleasing, harmonious tone that markedThoreau’s silent conversation with the fisherman:He [Farmer] had not attended to the train of histhoughts long when he heard some one playing on aflute, and that sound harmonized with his mood. . .But the notes of the flute came home to his ears outof a different sphere from that he worked in, and183suggested work for certain faculties which slumberedin him. (222)Significant, too, is the way that this ability to hear theflute’s music in his mind represents a faculty which had beenlying dormant, a “new faculty,” like Emerson’s extrasensory one.Once again, an attention to inaudible inner speech reflects anactive epistemic effort and results in an harmonious statemarked by a new understanding of the exterior world. It is anextraordinary kind of literacy which emerges in the imagery hereand which allows one to listen to silence, as Thoreau describesa way of using language interiorly, so that there is no residue,no textual trace, only a silent harmonious tone——detectible onlyby those free to hear it.This same well—developed sense of hearing is evident in themarch of the liberated person:If a man does not keep pace with his companions,perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer.Let him step to the music which he hears, howevermeasured or far away. (326)Attention to this same kind of lyrical sound, no matter howimperceptible it is to others, is what marks Thoreau’s own habitof singing. When he is first building his house, he talks aboutgoing on for days just singing to himself and “not having manycommunicable or scholar-like thoughts” (42). In this way, hesets singing to himself, a private logos, in contrast with amore public logos, like the telegraph. Significantly, he findsthis private singing so satisfying that he continues it for daysat a time, while he dismisses human efforts to build a telegraph184from Maine to Texas as ridiculous because people “have nothingimportant to communicate” (52). In this scheme, the highesttruths are expressed and recognized in silence, and “Perhaps thefacts most astounding and most real are never communicated byman to man,” but rather by man to self. In Walden, publicspeech lacks the harmony and, thus, the truth value of private,inaudible speech. This association between inner speech andhonesty becomes even more pronounced in the metaphorics of TheScarlet Letter.Hawthorne generates a metaphorical system like that createdby Emerson and Thoreau which is characterized by a literacy ofsilence and which values a private logos. However, in contrastwith the metaphorical designs of Emerson and Thoreau who usuallyportray silence as a powerful lyrical force, the metaphorics ofThe Scarlet Letter reveals a silence which is equally powerfulbut which has a grim quality about it--sometimes solemn,sometimes sinister. Frequently, it is a sobering, unspeakingsilence which marks the realization of unutterable humananguish——the voice of suffering which cannot be articulated inwords. Dimniesdale describes this unvoiceable pain when headvises Chillingworth that no “uttered words” can express “thesecrets that may be buried with a human heart” and that “Theheart . . . must perforce hold them, until the day when allhidden things shall be revealed” (96). Only unspeaking silence,expressed as “unsound,” can represent these secrets of the heartand can reflect the “unutterable torment” that people feel when185they choose to be silent about their passions or their sins(97). While there is an insistence on articulation in TheScarlet Letter, there is also a need for silence because we mustfirst be aware of our pain before we can verbalize it and beforewe can attend to it in others. An attention to silence, to thepresence of the absence of language, reflects thisself—conscious recognition of personal suffering. Silence, likehuman torment, is unutterable and yet expressive.Furthermore, while the unspeaking silences in Nature andWalden seem more fortuitous than controlled, more divinelyinspired than humanly motivated, these silences in The ScarletLetter are more often deliberate refusals to speak. Despite themany urgings to “speak out,” the characters continually resistspeech. In the metaphorics of The Scarlet Letter, genuine humansympathy calls for an ability to hear others when they areunable to voice their pain--an ability which relies on firstachieving a personal emotional integrity. In order to hear theunuttered suffering of others, we must first hear our own. Inthe novel’s literal and metaphorical action, unspeaking silenceoften signals a knowledge of this personal pain, and anattention to this silence marks a self—consciousness of innersuffering, so that KNOWLEDGE OF PERSONAL SUFFERING IS SILENCEand SELF-CONSCIOUSLY KNOWING PERSONAL SUFFERING IS LISTENINGTO/READING SILENCE. In this metaphorics of word, expressedlanguage represents an understanding of “suffering humanity,”and expressed silence represents the self—conscious knowledge of186the suffering self. Fluency in the ‘tongue of flame’ isprompted by such a literacy, a capacity for reading beyond theemblazoned letter of the law and for listening to the silentsound of private pain. Public eloquence is set in contrast toprivate silence in order to demonstrate the novel’s resoundingtheme: To “be true” to others, we must first “be true” toourselves.This necessary sequence is indicated in a common pattern inthe novel’s action, where vocalizations are often preceded byconspicuous silences. The “revelation of the scarlet letter”emerges in those deliberate silences which reflect an awarenessof personal passion. In the metaphorics of the novel’s action,unspeaking silences often represent times of emotional truth.For example, when the four main characters see each othertogether for the first time, Hester and Pearl look up to seeDimmesdale and Chillingworth in the window above them, and “allthese four persons, old and young, regarded one another insilence” (98). In this scene, even though no words are spoken,some kind of active exchange takes place. They did not ignoreone another; they “regarded” each other “in silence,” as if allfour people are realizing the extent of their anguish in thecompany of one another at the same time as they are exchangingthese realizations with one another. The silence is bothrevealing and telling in the way that it accompanies an exchangeof self—realizations.Because Dimmesdale’s guilt provides such an “unspeakable187misery,” and thus cause for self—reflection, often the silencessurround his actions and precede his public speeches. BeforeDimmesdale goes forward to address Hester publicly for the firsttime, attention is called to the fact that he “bent his head, insilent prayer, as it seemed.” In this expression, thejuxtaposition of “silent” with “prayer” suggests that Dimmesdaleis speaking to God interiorly in an effort to come to terms withhis sin. Then he appears to incriminate himself by urgingHester to proclaim the name of her fellow—sinner, and hiseloquence is noteworthy as he speaks in a voice “tremulouslysweet.” By the end of this scene, he does not confess his ownsin, and his silent prayer apparently does not result inemotional truth but, rather, reflects an inner struggle tounderstand his sin.In his second appearance on the scaffold during hismidnight vigil, speaking silence again signals an inner dialogueassociated with the pursuit of emotional truth. Dimmesdaleimagines that he has spoken out to Reverend Wilson who walksbelow, but his speech is soundless--”uttered within hisimagination”; his silent, imagined utterance signals the effortto recognize his dark secret even though he is unable to voiceit aloud (109-110). Dimmesdale yearns to be true to his heartand his attempts at “suppressing his voice” demonstrate hisinclinations toward silence, toward privately acknowledging hissinful self at the same time as he tries to publicly confess hissin. Noteworthy is the way his dilemma echoes the Calvinistic188bind: To choose to articulate a sinful nature is to suggesthuman free will; to be silent about it is to deny humandepravity.So it is that silence provides epistemic and emotionalrelief, for it marks those spaces of human understanding betweenthe recognition of a sobering truth and the articulation of it.While Dinunesdale tries to be true to his own heart, he strugglesto bridge the gaps between the times he recognizes his sin andthe opportunities he has to voice it. When Dimmesdaleencounters Chillingworth in his study after learning of thevengeful physician’s real identity, instead of voicing hisanguish, the minister stands “white and speechless, with onehand on the Hebrew Scriptures, and the other spread upon hisbreast” (159). The unspeaking silence affirms the fact thatneither his own speech nor the written sacred word canarticulate his grim realization. During this delay in talk, theauthor interjects that “It is singular, however, how long a timeoften passes before words embody things.” The recognition oftruths (the “things”) exists before there are words to expressthem, and pointing to the silence is a way of pointing to thisepistemic space and to the extent of it required before it canbe embodied in words. When characters are noticeably silent, itis often because they are residing in this epistemic territoryof self—awareness, and such knowledge sometimes requires a longperiod of residency.Silence also points to the way in which Dixnmesdale needs189time to recognize the depth of his love, while Hester is readymuch earlier to acknowledge her passion. In the midnight vigilscene, Hester is described as moving in silence. WhenDimmesdale calls out to her and Pearl to join him on thescaffold, she “silently ascended the steps,” and he felt “as ifthe mother and the child were communicating their vital warmthto his half-torpid system” even though they do not speak to eachother (111). The unspeaking silence here indicates a fleetingstate of emotional honesty, a state broken as soon as “the dreadof public exposure” returns and Dimmesdale reverts to professinghis stock ministerial line. Although it takes Dimmesdale aparticularly long time before he is able to realize the natureof his own passion, a turning point comes when he meets Hesterin the forest. They move back into the shadow of the woods,where they sit “without a word more spoken,” and it is thisshared unspeaking silence with Hester that seems to giveDinnuesdale the power to voice his suffering and to speak “witha deep utterance out of an abyss of sadness,” as he forgives herfor not revealing Chillingworth’s identity sooner (140).Conscious of his passion, he experiences “the exhilaratingeffect——upon a prisoner just escaped from the dungeon of his ownheart” (140), and the excitement of his feelings, “as hereturned from his interview with Hester, lent him unaccustomedphysical energy” (154), an energy which he sustains long enoughto make his public confession. And when Dimmesdale, Hester, andPearl ascend the scaffold together for the last time, we are190told that they “remained silent”--all apparently acutelyconscious of their private suffering (179).Along with these solemn silences are sinister ones as well.Most notably, the silences associated with Chillingworth areoften portrayed as perverse because they represent therecognition of an evil heart. With revenge in his heart, themalign physician works to “bring his mind into such affinitywith his patient’s” that he can destroy it. Operating here isa perverse kind of intuition, by which Chillingworth responds toDimmesdale “not so often by an uttered sympathy, as by silence,an inarticulate breath” (91). This insidious kind of unspeakingsilence reflects the self—conscious recognition of a perverseheart, a person who relies more on his thoughts than hisfeelings——more on books than human voices. Silence, forChillingworth, reflects a confrontation with the terribleblackness of his revenge, and since he never abandons his evilmotive nor does he attend to the suffering of others, thesilences surrounding him remain sinister.In contrast with Chillingworth, the attitude of thecommunity progresses from an initial preoccupation with theletter of the law to a compassionate regard for the spirit ofthe person, and a change in the nature of the silencesurrounding the multitude demonstrates this emotional change.For example, when Hester is first banished by her community, thesilence is expressive and hurtful: “Every gesture, every word,and even the silence of those with whom she came in contact,191implied, and often expressed, that she was banished” (63). Herethe unspeaking silence reflects the multitude’s earlyconsciousness, when they respond only to the scarlet letter ofher sin and ignore the suffering of her heart. However, afterthe eloquent voice of Dimmesdale ceases following the ElectionSermon the crowd’s response demonstrates a change of heart:“there was a momentary silence, profound as what should followthe utterance of oracles. Then ensued a murmur and half—hushedtumult; as if the auditors, released from the high spell thathad transported them into the region of another’s mind, werereturning into themselves” (175). The profound silence,momentary though it is, represents a return to the self, a self—conscious recognition by each heart of its own suffering (175).Striking is the way that the crowd is described as “auditors”here——listeners to their own silence.This pattern in the story’s action, where pronouncedsilence precipitates vocalization, works metaphorically torepresent the way in which a state of self—awareness of personalsuffering precedes an expressed sympathy with the suffering ofothers. There is one particularly conspicuous instance of thisprogression at the climax of the story’s action. WhenDilmuesdale takes his dying breath, the silence of the communityprecipitates their vocalized compassion:The multitude, silent until then, broke out in astrange, deep voice of awe and wonder, which could notas yet find utterance, save in this murmur that rolledso heavily after the departed spirit. (182)Aware of their own emotional vulnerability, the people struggle192to voice the sympathy they feel for the suffering minister, andthe resulting sound is a strange kind of “not—yet” utterance.This almost—utterance, halfway between silence and speech,expresses the human attempt both to know and to articulate theunutterable secrets that are buried in the human heart. Thepeople who heed the silent sounds of their own pain are in aposition to hear the silent cries of suffering humanity. In themetaphorical design of The Scarlet Letter, a deliberateattention to silence reflects this need first to be emotionallyhonest before we can know, as well as first to know before wecan say. And since there are often emotional and epistemiclapses in this process, silence is metaphorically useful inrepresenting these spaces. Now we will examine how thesesilences which are noticeable in Hawthorne’s text, becomepredominant in Melville’s.The prevalence of unspeaking silence in Moby Dick reflectsan overriding concern with a self—conscious sense of what we cannot know. In this scheme, KNOWLEDGE OF PERSONAL DESTINY ISSILENCE and SELF-CONSCIOUS KNOWING OF PERSONAL DESTINY ISREADING SILENCE. Specifically, silence is closely aligned withdeath, and an attention to silence reflects an awareness thatthere are limits to what we can know about our own mortality.As a metaphor for living, whaling insists on a conscious regardfor death. The marble tablets in the Whalemen’s Chapel remindIshmael of this link between silence, death, and whaling: “Thereis death in this business of whaling--a speechlessly quick193chaotic bundling of man into eternity” (39). Unspeakingsilence, like death, marks a state of being where the effort tounderstand stops, and this set of relationships is representedby the “pyrainidical silence” of the whale.Furthermore, this state of being seems to acquire an ironicepistemic elevation in this text, so that being aware of thelimits of our knowledge is accorded more value than striving tounderstand. Full knowledge of personal destiny is possibleonly with death, and a complete articulation of death ispossible only with silence. In this way, death is given primacyover life, and silence is given primacy over speech. Thisdetermination is illustrated in the alignment of death with thepyramids and speech with the Tower of Babel. In saying that “wecannot give these Babel builders priority over the Egyptians”(156), Ishmael suggests that death and silence must be givenpriority over life and language in terms of the knowledge theycan afford us. That is why “the genius of the whale is itssilence,” and this “pyramidical silence” is portrayed as theperfect epistemic state.I use “perfect” here in Kenneth Burke’s ironic sense todescribe the linguistic inclination to seek ultimate states, toattain the fullest and most complete realization of a term, tobe “rotten with perfection.”6 This perfectionist streak, saysBurke, is the impulse to satisfy the human need to name, “a kindof ‘terministic compulsion’ to carry out the implications ofone’s terminology” (19). We are moved by this perfectionism,194“in the sense of total language gratification” (19), to succumbto the lure of form and to take metaphors as far as they willgo. Therefore, by using the language process as a source domainfor representing the process of discovery, a metaphorics of wordnecessarily generates a place for the absence of language——aneed for silence. The metaphorical role of silence might alsobe explained in Burkean terms as the principle of the negative,which is not a thing but an idea which calls attention to whatis not there (9-11). As a negative principle, the image ofsilence insists that we notice the absence of expressed languageand its metaphorical implications as well. The result is thatsilence emphasizes the realization that something expected ismissing. In the metaphorical system of Moby Dick, the recurringsilences draw attention to the absence of language; sincelinguistic action is associated with epistemic action, thesilences also highlight lapses in the discovery process as well.By extending the associations concerning silence to theirlogical and linguistic conclusions, Melville creates ametaphorics in which silence, as perfected linguistic action,represents the perfected epistemic state at the same time as itrepresents death. The meanings of silence, both positive andnegative, are always value—charged extreme states. With thelanguage processes of reading and listening reflecting theepistemic processes of discovery, unspeaking silence representsthe cessation of that discovery process. By equating silencewith death, this design highlights epistemic limits. The only195way to perfect our knowledge of death is to die; the only way toarticulate our knowledge of death completely is to be silent.In this metaphorics of perfection, Melville intimates acritique of current epistemic systems as well. The failure ofTranscendentalism, as a system, is reflected in the way thatsilence assumes a negative and sinister aspect, rather than onlythe uplifting, spiritual association that it had in Nature andWalden. For example, when the “sunken-eyed young Platonist”falls from a mystical reverie from his perch on the masthead tohis death in the sea below, he manages only “one half—throttledshriek” before a fatal silence (162-163). And when Ahab isjerked to his death by his own line “voicelessly as Turkishmutes bowstring their victim” (575), the same final silencemarks his fatal merging with Nature. Here, becoming one withNature and entering into the transcendental silence has fatalconsequences, so that a full realization of the transcendentaltheme requires silence and death. Perhaps the difficulties withTranscendentalism are highlighted most conspicuously in thecharacter of Ahab who mutely meditates on his relationship withNature and then pursues his obsession with a perverseindividualism and evil self-reliance.Calvinism, too, is portrayed as a failing system in thefigures of silent Ahab and voiceless Moby Dick. Given tosilences, Ahab is frequently described as a man driven by aperverse religious zeal. For example, after lightning strikesthe Pequod, Ahab proclaims his vow to continue his obsessive196pursuit as if he were on a divinely appointed mission: “I nowknow that thy right worship is defiance. . . . I own thyspeechless, placeless power” (512). He even suggests that hiscompulsion is part of God’s preordained plan when he asks, “Whatis it, what nameless, inscrutable, unearthly thing is itmaking me ready to do what in my own proper, natural heart, Idurst not so much as dare? . . . Is it I, God, or who, thatlifts this arm?” (546). Here the Calvinist God who allows nohuman free will is held responsible for Ahab’s crazed quest.Similarly, Moby Dick with his “pyramidical silence” is alignedwith the Calvinist God in the way that he is described as asupernatural force, “not only ubiquitous, but immortal” (184)and whose actions are held to be inscrutable. In this way,silence continues to possess its positive associations at thesame time as it accrues negative features; in the process, anysystem aligned with silence becomes problematic.In Moby Dick, silence assumes the same multiple meanings asits visual counterpart, whiteness. Like whiteness, silence issometimes associated with the sacred. During his story ofJonah, Father Mapple stops and is described “as he silentlyturned over the leaves of the Books once more; and . . seemedcommuning with God and himself” (49). This divine dialogue ischaracterized by silence. When the crew is being presided overby the mute Ahab at the dinner table, Ishmael notes that theywould not “have profaned that moment [of silence) with theslightest observation,” thus implying that speech is profane and197silence somehow sacred (153). When Ishmael describes theexperience of standing watch in the mast-head high above the“silent decks,” he describes how the look—out is in a“meditative” state, uninterrupted by speech, and it is thesilence which provides the “sublime uneventfulness” (159). Justas silence provides the “harmony” in Thoreau’s idealconversations, so too does silence here provide the sublimity.When the white squid surfaces during the voyage, “ a stillnessalmost preternatural spread over the sea . . . in this profoundhush” (282). And in acknowledging the devoutness of whales,Ishmael compares them to the elephants of antiquity who oftengreeted the morning with their trunks raised in “the profoundestsilence” (388). In many instances like these, unspeakingsilence is aligned with a supernatural, spiritual state ofconsciousness.However, like whiteness, silence can also be associatedwith the terrifying. For example, the mariner who is awakenedat midnight to see a sea of “milky whiteness” also “feels asilent, superstitious dread” and is doubly frightened (196).Unlike Emerson, who gazed out on the silent sea and was onlyconsoled, Melville portrays a silence that is often tinged withalarm. Frequently, silence accompanies the presence of aninvisible terror nearby. Like the “nameless terror” that hauntsIshmael from his childhood, wordlessness can be dreadful. Whenthe crew comes across the Albatross, for example, they feeluneasy and “in various silent ways the seamen of the Pequod were198evincing their observance of this ominous incidence” (242).Here, unspeaking silence accompanies their recognition of evil.These sacred and terrifying aspects of silence cometogether in the image of the “weaver—god.” Here is a god whois portrayed as the deaf creator of the universe who weaveswithout regard for the voices of its inhabitants: “Theweaver—god, he weaves; and by that weaving is he deafened, thathe hears no mortal voice” (459). The weaving imagery representsa world where truth about our personal destinies is unavailable,a world full of silence and fury, signifying nothing. Here isthe Calvinistic God taken to the extreme, a God who mechanicallyweaves the fabric of life and whose ways remain inscrutablebecause no one can hear the inaudible explanation “and only whenwe escape it shall we hear the thousand voices that speakthrough it” (459-460). So it is that the “mute gospel” ofNature has taken an ironic turn in the imagery of Moby Dick;instead of the unspeaking silence representing recognition ofthe divine spirit within the individual, the silent text/weavingmetaphor encodes the certain uncertainty that is divinelycreated.Part of the terrifying aspect of silence in Moby Dick,then, is that sometimes it seems both motivated and random.During the time that the crew is following Moby Dick, Ishmaelnotes how they are “allured by the perfidious silences” at thesame time as they choose to wait in stillness:Few or no words were spoken; and the silent ship, asif manned by painted sailors in wax, day after day199tore on through all the swift madness and gladness ofthe demoniac waves. By night the same muteness ofhumanity before the shrieks of the ocean prevailed;still in silence the men swung in the bowlines; stillwordless Ahab stood up to the blast. (239-240)The sustained unspeaking silence is at once deliberate andinevitable in a situation where words are useless in the face ofan invisible, unknowable terror. Even though knowledge of deathwill always elude us, the silent forces of its mysteryseductively draw us in silent pursuit.Like mute humanity in the face of death, the whale is alsocharacterized as silent at the prospect of impending death. Inwatching the agony of a dying whale, Ishmael comments on thestriking feature of its voicelessness: “The fear of this vastdumb brute of the sea, was chained up and enchanted in him; hehad no voice” (364-365). In the face of death, neither humanbeing nor natural creature can articulate its mystery; both canonly exist like silent pyramids, closer and closer to itssecret, but unable to reveal it. What distinguishes Ahab andMoby Dick, however, is that their silence is inherent. Thewhale is born tongueless, and Ahab is described as beingconstitutionally silent. In other words, their sense ofepistemic limits is more natural than learned, a characteristicthat is marked by a silence, accompanied by a strange humming.For example, after Ahab has called his crew together to post thegold doubloon, he stands “without speaking . . . without usingany words was meanwhile lowly humming to himself, producing asound so strangely muffled and inarticulate that it seemed the200mechanical humming of the wheels of vitality in him” (165).Ahab’s pervasive silence demonstrates his almost total existencein a state of self—consciousness——fixed on his own epistemiclimits. The humming, which had a lyrical and spiritual qualityin Walden, here reveals the neglible humanity left in Ahab, andthe muffled quality of his speech demonstrates his feebleattempts to articulate his knowledge. Like the weaver god whoweaves in a humming kind of silence, Ahab seems to be involvedin both a creative and yet doomed pursuit of truth.Another aspect of the complex nature of the silence in MobyDick is that both death and silence are portrayed as activestates of being where some kind of consciousness continues.When Ishmael first visits the Whalemen’s Chapel, he is aware ofthis kind of active silence:A muffled silence reigned, only broken at times by theshrieks of the storm. Each silent worshipper seemedpurposely sitting apart from the other, as if eachsilent grief were insular and incommunicable. Thechaplain had not yet arrived; and there these silentislands of men and women sat steadfastly eyeingseveral marble tablets. (36)As we contemplate death, at some point we are left with thesilent and lonely realization that we can never explain it. The“muffled” quality of the silence here reflects the humaninclination to want to voice some explanation of our grieving atthe same time as we look futilely to past human attempts toexplain the enigma of death. Ultimately, “silence reigns,” andwe are left with the knowledge that we can never know and withthe intimation that both silence and death involve the presence201of some active consciousness and not just merely a void.While this knowledge of our epistemic limits is haunting,it also has a curiously calming effect. For example, after thecrew behead a whale and go below to dinner, the silence isreassuring:Silence reigned over the before tumultous but nowdeserted deck, an intense copper calm, like auniversal yellow lotus, was more and more unfoldingits noiseless measureless leaves upon the sea. (320)As in the earlier chapel scene, the “silence reigns,” controlsthe situation, and reassures us simultaneously. Here, theawareness of our epistemic limits is described “unfolding” likea blossoming lotus and, like “measureless” truth which existsdespite its lack of visual traces, this “noiseless” knowledgeexists despite the absence of audible cues and prompts a senseof peacefulness. Furthermore, this unspeaking silence isportrayed as a state of being so that “up into thisnoiselessness came Ahab alone,” suggesting that this state ofconsciousness can be deliberately entered. Even though silencerepresents a knowledge of the inability to know anything forsure, it is comforting in its certainty. In Melville’s“perfect” scheme, this knowledge of our epistemic limits is theonly “certain significance,” and it is a state of consciousnessthat each person must enter into alone.Expressed Silence and a Private LogosAlthough traditional rhetoric has always stressed therelationship of the speaker to an external audience, we also uselanguage to persuade ourselves. Even in the fourth century202B.C., the rhetorician Isocrates refers to this self—persuasionwhen he says that “the same arguments which we use in persuadingothers when we speak in public, we employ also when wedeliberate in our own thoughts” (emphasis added) . He callsattention here to a private logos, the power of interior speech,and its potential for assisting the epistemic. process. In themetaphorics of word emerging in these four nineteenth—centurytexts, the use of silence as a metaphor for self—knowledgeimplies this notion of a private logos and the powerfulinfluence of an inner voice. As a kind of “symbolic action,”self—persuasion is described by Kenneth Burke as the “Rhetoricof Address (to the Individual Soul),” and he considers thisself—persuasion an important kind of language use, for “Onlythose voices from without are effective which can speak in thelanguage of the voice within” (39). Resulting from a privateact of translation, this self—addressed rhetoric deservesattention because it highlights the function of a private logosin both the discernment and articulation of knowledge.With speaking silence operating as a metaphor for an activediscovery of self—knowledge and unspeaking silence working as ametaphor for a state of self—consciousness, silence emerges ina metaphorics of word to represent an individual’sepistemological status. By highlighting the role of innerspeech, this metaphorical system emphasizes the value of usinglanguage for self—revelation, whether we publish suchunderstanding or not. Furthermore, as Melville’s perfected203silence illustrates, the silence metaphor results in a moreexpansive metaphorical system, one that allows for therepresentation of good and evil rhetoric, whether addressed toothers or to the self.A Metaphorics of Word as PropheticStriking is the way that this perspective forecasts themodern view of rhetoric as epistemic. By employing linguisticaction as a figure for representing epistemic action, ametaphorics of word promotes an understanding of rhetoric’sprimary purpose as the interrogation of truth. In hisdiscussion of “symbolic inducement and knowing,” Richard Greggquotes Wayne Booth in characterizing this contemporaryunderstanding: “From this perspective . . . the supreme purposeof rhetoric would not be to persuade others to preconceivedpoints of view, but ‘to engage in mutual inquiry orexploration’.”8 In addition to highlighting the value of aprivate logos through the use of silence, by using languageprocesses as the source domain for structuring epistemicprocesses, these American writers evince a perception oflanguage as both a process and a result and thus extend ourunderstanding of knowing as both a process and a result.It is worth noting that for these nineteenth-centurywriters, language itself assumed metaphorical significancerelative to a prevailing conceptual framework. As Kittaystates, “an expression is not metaphorical in an absolute sense[but] only relative to a given conceptual organization”204in which certain ideas are considered “salient for that languagecommunity” (19). For this nineteenth-century languagecommunity, language and knowing were not only preeminent topicsbut also inextricably linked. Just as Nietzsche has beenapplauded for his “anticipation of the twentieth-century focusupon language” as well as “his almost prophetic statements onrhetoric’s relation to knowledge,”9 so too should these Americanwriters be acknowledged for their even earlier forecasting ofthese themes.Given this prophetic view of language, it is not surprisingthat Kittay has remarked that “with the notable exception of theRomantics,” pre-twentieth—century thinkers have regardedmetaphor merely as a stylistic adornment (xi). Given thesenineteenth—century writers’ implied view of language asepistemic, it follows that they would also have regardedmetaphor as a cognitive device and thus have constructed ametaphorics in which language imagery is used to provide aperspective on epistemology. Just as the voice replaced thebook as a privileged symbol in the culture, so too does thevoice replace the book as a privileged symbol in the symbolicsystem of the literature. The remarkable achievement of theirmetaphorics of word, especially with its provision for silence,is that it points to the inadequacy of language at the same timeas it prompts a confidence in its power and a reverence for itsmystery. In this system, language can never adequatelyascertain or establish truth, and it is this very inadequacy205which makes language such a useful figure for representing theprocess of knowing. By using language——both in its presenceand in its absence——as a metaphor for truth, these writersextend our understanding of both domains.206Chapter 6 Notes1. See Grosvenor Powell, “Coleridge’s ‘Imagination’ and theInfinite Regress of Consciousness,” for a discussion of howColeridge’s metaphysical system provided for self—consciousness(the state of being and knowing) as the highest state, p. 277.2. Jeff Verschueren, What People Say They Do With Words:Prolegomena to an Empirical-Conceptual Approach to LinguisticAction, p. 74. See Verschueren’s discussion of silenceverbals (“silence verbials” or “verba tacendi”) and how theirmere presence reflects the predominance of orality in thediscourse, pp. 83 and 119.3. See my chapter one, p. 14, for a discussion of Vygotsky’sdescription of inner speech.4. Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Circles,” The Collected Works of RalphWaldo Emerson, v. 2, p. 184.5. Ralph Waldo Emerson, The Collected Words of Ralph WaldoEmerson, v. 1, p. 63.6. Kenneth Burke, Language as Symbolic Action, p. 16-18. Allsubsequent page citations are in the text.7. Isocrates, Nicocles in Isocrates, translated by George Norlin,V. I, p. 81, lines 8—9.8. Richard B. Gregg, Symbolic Inducement and Knowing; A Study inthe Foundations of Rhetoric, p. 8.9. Sander Gilman, Carole Blair, and David J. Parent, FriedrichNietzsche on Rhetoric and Language, p.xviii.207BIBLIOGRAPHYLITERARY PRIMARY:Calvin, John. Calvin: Institutes of the Christian Religion.Eds. John T. McNeill et al. Trans. Ford Lewis Battles. 2vols. Philadelphia: Westminister Press, 1960.Carlyle, Thomas. Sartor Resartus: The Life and Opinions ofHerr Teufelskrockh. Ed. Charles Frederick Harrold. NewYork: Odyssey Press, 1937.Coleridge, Samuel Taylor. Biographia Literaria. Ed. JohnShawcross. 2 vols. London: Oxford University Press,1907.Emerson, Ralph Waldo. The Complete Works of Ralph WaldoEmerson. Ed. Edward Waldo Emerson. The Centenary Edition.12 vols. 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