Albright, Daniel. Quantum Poetics. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1997.
This highly scientific but somewhat reaching study attempts to posit the
Modernist poets as translators of the science of their day by citing their
frequent "appropriation of scientific metaphors" (1). Albright
focuses specifically on Yeats, Pound, and Eliot in an effort to construct
a scientifically derived, so-called 'wave theory' of poetry. Albright's
contention is that the "streamlined look" of Modernism (111) is
an attempt to isolate the building blocks of poetry as (much like light)
discrete units of quanta. This conclusion leads to a Modernist "particle
model of literature" (19) whereby symbols and sounds produce what Albright
terms a "telepathic intimacy" between poet and reader which transgresses
notions of science and art. Albright's study is terribly well-supported
by claims of scientific origins, but also seems equally as stretched.
Altieri, Charles. Painterly Abstraction in Modernist American Poetry.
Cambridge UP, 1989.
In Chapter 7, entitled "Modes of Abstraction in Modernist Poetry,"
Altieri specifically examines (without the usual generalizations), how writers
"try to imitate the visual arts' ability to express affective aspects
of material substance" (222). Writers such as Williams, Stein, and
Stevens "articulate a grammar of stylistic possibilities...in a variety
of combinations" to echo the abstractions of Modernist art (223). According
to Altieri, Williams fails because of the "limitations of the poet's
processes...to go beyond the limits of what it could control" (240).
Stein comes closer to the mark, but it is Stevens who, for Altieri, best
"produces a single integrative abstraction" most akin to Cubism
Bay-Petersen, Ole. "T.S. Eliot and Einstein: The Fourth Dimension in
Quartets." English Studies 66 (1978): 143-155.
Bay-Petersen's goal is to uncover "the probability of Eilot's indebtedness
to Einstein's theories," specifically in the Four Quartets (143). Eliot's
use of time as subject is explicated as the simultaneous pairing of both
Eternity and "human time which is characterized by succession"
(147). Eliot's negotiations between the temporal and the eternal are, for
Bay-Petersen, finally resolved only in "Eliot's concept of a divine
pattern" (149) wherein "human life forms a mere detail" (148)
of the greater whole. This conclusion that "all space and time measurements
are relative" (150) results in "the idea of a separate dimension
of absolute time" -- a fourth dimension (151). For Bay-Petersen, "Eliot's
idea of eternity as forming a kind of pattern or design where all times
co-exist is remarkably similar to Einstein's space-time" (253), a popular
concept of which "he [Eliot] was familiar" (154).
Henderson, Linda Dalrymple. The Fourth Dimension and Non-Euclidean
Geometry in Modern Art. Princeton, NJ: Princeton UP, 1983.
Henderson's examination of fourth-dimensional treatment in (and by) twentieth-century
art objects is utterly exhaustive and painstakingly researched. Including
originary texts, a host of art plates, and various bibliographic chronologies,
Henderson's study meticulously traces the fourth dimension from its not-so-humble
mathematical beginnings to its place as, in her words, "the dominant
intellectual influence" of the early twentieth-century artistic world
(xiv). Henderson observes the fourth dimension in Paris (Duchamp), in America
(Weber), and finally in the roots of Russian futurism. Her superexpansive
view neglects any mention of textual representation beyond a cursory one,
but does open the door for further such study by positioning the fourth
dimension as "a rationale for exploring new kinds of language in art,
literature, and music" (341).
---. "X-rays and the Quest for Invisible Reality in the Art of Kupka,
the Cubists." Art-Journal 47 (1988): 323-40.
Henderson obviously does not dispute the major role of the fourth dimension
in Modernist art (see above), but she here argues that there is a second
factor "contributing to the preoccupation with supersensible reality"
-- the 1895 discovery of x-rays (323). Henderson's again airtight scholarship
points to popular cultural texts of the early twentieth century to show
that "the notion of clairvoyant, four-dimensional vision" was
inextricably linked (initially) with x-rays (332). For the Moderns, x-rays
"clearly established the inadequacy of human sense perception and raised
fundamental questions" about substance and reality which were more
metaphysical than scientific (324). Henderson's welcome inclusion of advertisements,
cartoons, and photos convey this "remarkable public response to x rays"
(324) which is seen by her as a blanket admission of the inadequacy of human
sensory observations. This "relativity of perception" (326) suggested
by x rays directly inspires (according to Henderson) artists such as Duchamp
and Picasso who endeavor to represent "an invisible, immaterial reality"
(336) in their works; to see the unseen.
Morris, Robert. "Words and Images in Modernism and Postmodernism."
Inquiry 15 (1989): 337-47.
As Morris rightly observes, to study the "relations between image and
language is to step into a very old philosophical problem" (337). Nonetheless,
the question is a good one and Morris claims that the "texture of difference"
between the two is that language exhibits only differences while images
are always continuous (339). Modernism is then an ideology of "transcendence
and transgression" in which artists (and writers) are "forcing
the iconic into some pure realm of clarified imagery free of textual contamination"
(341). For support, Morris moves briskly from Kant to Derrida in order to
make the bold claim that "art is now the model of experience"
(346); "a text is not required" (347).
Philmus, Robert M. "The Time Machine; or, The Fourth Dimension as
Prophecy." PMLA 84 (1969): 530-35.
Based on H.G. Wells' later (1920s) thoughts about his earlier novel The
Time Machine, this study is particularly useful in terms of its methodology
-- the application of fourth dimensional theories to an actual written text.
Philmus centers on the novel being a "vision of the future as a devolutionary
process" resulting only in non-human animal vegetation (532). He sees
Wells' "vision of social disintegration" existing "only in
the dimension of prophecy, that dimension into which the critique can be
projected and...given life" -- the fourth dimension as time, as metaphor
(534). The Time Traveller of Wells' story takes his prophecy literally and
dissolves (textually, literally) into "the world of 802,701" in
order to make his prophecy come true and make the reader's experience not
only a relativistic one, but a fourth-dimensional one as well (535).
Scheick, William J. "The Fourth Dimension in Wells's Novels of the
1920's." Criticism 20 (1978): 167-90.
Scheick also focuses on the science fiction of Wells, claiming that his
[Wells'] "search for a revolutionary form" in fiction stumbled
across a fourth dimension of representation (168). Scheick reads closely
into the Wells canon of the 1920s and finds not only a "disparagement"
with form and unity (anti-Henry James), but also that "the revealing
coordinates" of space and time are key components of the fictions (171).
Scheick concludes that Wells realizes that "fixed space may be in fact
less definable" (171) in that "matter or space...undergoes translation...through
a fourth dimension, time" (172). For Wells, "time...implies the
'greater' reality of the inherent and seemingly paradoxical fluidity of
spatial fixity" (172). Scheick concludes by placing Wells as prefiguring
postmodernity, the "splintered frame" (177) of the "uncomfortable
self-awareness of...reading a work of fiction" (177).
Van Cleve, James. "Right, Left, and the Fourth Dimension." The
Review 96 (1987): 33-68.
Van Cleve critiques neither art nor literature, but the fourth dimension
itself from a highly detached, highly theoretical view. Using Kant as his
locus, Van Cleve defines the fourth dimension as a property of "Absolute
Space" (35), a distinction which is only "a difference in orientation"
and not one in time (44). But Van Cleve proceeds to deconstruct his own
argument, theorizing that "all labels are arbitrary" (48) and
that "on empirical grounds...the existence of a fourth dimension is