Letter from the Poetry Editor, Heather Taylor Johnson
Welcome to the November 2013 issue of Transnational Literature. Anyone involved in the Australian poetry community will know that it has been a difficult time as two of our own award winning poets have been 'outed' as plagiarists. While this has caused poets from around the nation (and indeed, the world) great concern, poets have been reconsidering the idea of authentication, wondering can art ever truly be unique. Who owns a literary work? The author? The publisher? The reader? These questions are for every writer – not only poets – and they are especially true for editors, who are now expected to be the guardians of authenticity. I honestly do not know how to go about doing my job any differently than how I've been doing for the past eight years: have faith in the legitimacy of an author's passionate desire to communicate. I hope that when you read our authors, you'll feel that passion.
In this issue homage is paid to Ludwig Wittgenstein as a woman analyses love to the point of feeling it; Allen Ginsberg's footsteps in India are retraced in a discovery of Indian influence on the Beat Poets; the Yellow Emperor of China c.2697-2597 BCE resurfaces to apologise to one of his wives – passionate muses abound. Diane Bell pays tribute to the late Ngarrindjeri man Tom Trevorrow, whose lifetime work was keeping the stories of the Old People alive and tirelessly fighting for reconciliation – memories of a passionate life. And of course there are book reviews: two, in fact, of reprinted Australian classics, reminding us that passion still lives in the pages of our paperback books. As a possible commentary on the displacement of cultural histories, identities, morals and ethics of transnational lives, the writing in this issue echoes the words of Ouyang Yu, who reminds us of the borderlessness of our spiritual landscapes and the passion it insists upon:
If one struggles and gets nowhere
Think of the sky that remains hollow and empty
Perhaps because it still hasn't begun charging a fee
To the passing planes
Plato wrote both stories and argument as a way of investigating philosophical problems. For Plato, the choice of literary form was essential to the quest for philosophical truth. Ever since, philosophical reflection has found expression in numerous literary forms, both creative and conventional. And so, we have Platonic and Humean dialogues, Cartesian meditations, Enlightenment fables, Kierkegaardian narratives, Nietzchean parables and aphorisms, Russellian mathematics, Wittgensteinian tractatuses and investigations, as well as all the standard literary forms of novels, novellas, poems, plays, and songs.
Transnational Literature is seeking papers for a special edition of the journal which will be dedicated to the literary expression of philosophy. Rather than readings of philosophy in literature (of mapping particular philosophical frameworks onto works of literature), we invite explorations of philosophy as literature and we invite these explorations to also address the journal’s transnational focus by exploring the crossing of cultural, national and temporal boundaries.
The following ideas are of particular interest:
• Philosophy and literature as ‘embattled adversaries’ (Calvino) and the breaking down of boundaries between philosophy and literature.
• Philosophical fiction as an alternative mode of philosophical reflection and investigation and/or experimental method. (George Eliot’s novels, for example, as ‘a set of experiments in life… endeavour[s] to see what our thought and emotion may be capable of.’)
• The use of literary devices in philosophical writing to express philosophical facts / metaphysical truths. (Locke’s metaphorical ‘candle within us’ becomes the factual ‘intuition.’)
• The use of literary devices in creative fiction to do the work of philosophy. (Exposition as a way of interrupting narrative to keep reader attentive to the task of enquiry. Point-of-view as ethical device. Ellipsis as getting to the essential story.)
• The literary merit of philosophical writing: a secondary concern to the primary quest for truth?
• The dialectic of abstraction and embodiment.
• The literary form as the accurate expression of moral truths because of the embodied and particular nature of moral philosophy. (Nussbaum.)
• The importance of fiction, poetry and song for guiding thought, strengthening observation, developing critical thinking. (Confucius.)
• Authors who conceive of the novel as more than story; as a genre that ‘brings together every device and every form of knowledge in order to shed light on existence.’ (Kundera on Broch. Also, Musil, Calvino, Coetzee, George Eliot.)
• Philosophy as performance and philosophical plays.
• Philosophers who also write literary fiction.
We also invite:
• Creative writing that investigates an original philosophical problem.
• Book reviews of relevant creative and scholarly works that explore the above themes.
• Be between 4000 and 6000 words in length, including footnotes.
• Conform to the journal’s style guide available here: http://fhrc.flinders.edu.au/transnational/submissions.html
• Be accompanied by abstract of about 200 words.
• Be accompanied by an author biography of 150 words.
• Be attached as a Microsoft Word document to an email addressed to Kathryn Koromilas email@example.com. Please add subject line: Submission TNL Philosophy as literature. Deadline for submissions 30 June 2014.