초월적인 존재와의 마주침: W. B. 예이츠와 타자의 윤리학


An Encounter with the Transcendental Being: W. B. Yeats and Ethics of the Other


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Building on the readings of Yeats’s esoteric poems, essays, and A Vision, I poses to rethink the ethical dimensions of his occultism, more specifically his reflection on an encounter with the transcendental beings. The need for rearticulation of the role of the ethical, that is the relation to the other gains urgency because the transcendental beings are by nature obscure, indistinct, and indefinite. They resist too much clarification and determination that may reduce their complicated and irreducible beings to distinct concepts. The difficulty, therefore, lies in the question of how Yeats could present the beings in a manner as precise, proper, and rigorous as possible and at the same time he could respect and honor the mode in which the beings conceals themselves in the mystery, by letting them be the mystery that they are. A Vision was the culmination of Yeats’s lifelong wish to relate the divinity of the supernational beings to the human soul. In order not to present God as a personal deity, Yeats says only about the nearest equivalent his system offers to God, the gnomically-named Thirteenth Cone. The Cone is actually a sphere because sufficient to itself, but as seen by man it is a cone. It is more a symbol of the human relationship to the ultimate being than a symbol of that ultimate itself. Otherwise unknowable, the supernatural beings could be evoked by symbols. The symbol's job for Yeats therefore is not, first and foremost, cognition, in the sense of understanding, calculation, and definition, but instead bringing what is other for language and thought into the openness of its alterity and maintaining this alterity against the power of cognitive assimilation. Yeats lets the symbols work up the mind to evoke the world of the supernatural beings, which will remain unknown to those who relay on the evidence of their senses. “The Cold Heaven” gives a good illustration of the human relation to the supernational beings, for it combines Yeats's own personal history with his supernatural vision. Staring at a winter sky, he desperately looks back at where his life has gone, gathering together in a passionate fusion the lacerating memory of his failure with Gonne and his themes of death, ghosts and dreams. Supernatural Songs shows how Ribh's ecstasy in an encounter with the supernatural being not only arises from the contemplation of things vaster than the individual and imperfectly seen but also escapes from the barrenness and shallowness of a too conscious arrangement. "The Spirit Medium" well exemplifies the phenomenon of permeable structure inhabiting different regions of reality simultaneously so that the world of the supernatural being and that of the individual, inside and outside, one side and the other, subject and the other, appear as correlated and overlapped as equal parts of the inhuman symbolic spirit medium.


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  • 윤일환 Ilhwan Yoon. 부산대


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