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After Thoughts

After Thoughts

Chapter:
(p.112) Chapter Four After Thoughts
Source:
Cartesian Poetics
Author(s):
Andrea Gadberry
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226723167.003.0005

This chapter examines what, for Descartes, was a notoriously difficult problem to reconcile, namely, the measure of duration and time, that which impels us to consider our own ends and what happens after thinking. What is left when thought is done? Central to this chapter are the remnants of thought manifest in the logic of the anagram. Examining Descartes’ discussion of the anagram in the Regulae alongside its theorization in the early modern period as “posy transposed” and in conversation with twentieth-century theorists, including Saussure and Tzara, the chapter shows how the so-called trivial genre or figure of the anagram gives form to the problem of thought’s claim to eternity in the face of human mortality and enacts a kind of thinking that exceeds its thinker by way of poetry. In the anagram, Descartes, in turn, will provide a model for thinking that replaces his trademark doubt with hope and boldness. The chapter concludes by examining Descartes’ poetic afterlife by way of Beckett’s poem about Descartes (and time): “Whoroscope.”

Keywords:   Descartes, Beckett, anagram, duration, time, hope, boldness, mortality, triviality, embodiment

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