Vigilance To The Point of Magic

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Poetic visualization has often been characterized as enacting an especially intense access to reality or, in modern critical accounts, as a site for the problematization of such access. Taking its starting point from the poetry of Lavinia Greenlaw, this chapter traces a different set of effects; its subject is the crystallization of a particular imaginative capability in two choral odes by Aeschylus and Euripides. In both, incitement to imaginative visualization opens out into layered demands on their audiences. Both carry their listeners to points where their openness to being influenced can be understood as a type of vulnerability, whether to deception, to misprision, or to finding themselves becoming unsettlingly porous to the experiences figured in the texts. Yet the passages are also moments at which the ‘vigilance’ of poetic attending might become the ‘magic’ of deepened insight or unexpected revelation. By tracing the thinking that these passages both reflect and engender, this chapter demonstrates that they enact a sophisticated pre-theoretical understanding of the ‘imagination’ which foreshadows the more systematic reflections of Gorgias, Aristotle, and later literary critics, and gives rise to conceptual implications not pursued by those thinkers.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Imagination of the Mind in Classical Athens
EditorsEmily Clifford, Xavier Buxton
Place of PublicationLondon
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9781003147459
ISBN (Print)9780367706685
Publication statusPublished - 14 Jul 2023


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