| AbstractThis essay discusses the question of the transforming creative self and the aesthetics of becoming in Samuel Taylor Coleridge's 'Kubla Khan' and 'Dejection: An Ode', by reassessing certain strands of Romantic visionary criticism and Deconstruction, which are two major critical positions in the reading and interpreting of Romantic poetry. The poetics of becoming and the creative process place the self in Coleridge's aesthetic and spiritual idealism in what I have called a constructive deferral, since none of his poetic texts demonstrates the totality of experience or the impossibility of conceptual and theoretical discourse.The aesthetic and spiritual advancement of the self delineates the self as conscious, anti-self-conscious, paradoxical, ironic and self-contradictory. These are the very states that necessitate and enhance change and dynamism rather than portray imaginative failure and impossibility. The two poems therefore display an intertextual relation with regard to the self's progress towards the attainment of its pursued ideals.
IntroductionThe aim of this article is to discuss the issue of the transforming creative self as demonstrating a poetics of becoming in Coleridge's 'Kubla Khan' and 'Dejection: An Ode,'  against the background of his aesthetic and spiritual idealism and postmodern criticism, especially Deconstruction. This presupposes an innovative intertextual treatment of the poems, intertextuality here not conceived as involving the relation between an author and a precursor expounded by Harold Bloom, but as a subtle elliptical psycho-aesthetic and spiritual mixture between the poems.It will be important, first of all, to define certain key terms like the poetics of becoming and Deconstruction to situate the context in which the concept of the transforming creative self is discussed and analysed. Becoming is defined here as the self-conscious striving towards an aesthetic or transcendental ideal. Taking self-presence as a distinctive mark in Romantic discourse, becoming situates the self as engaged in a continuing process, which is characterised by irony, paradox, contradiction and anti-self-consciousness. It should be stressed here that the thrust of the argument does not wrestle with whether an ideal is attained or not. Rather, it is concerned with the enthusiasm and unceasing struggle for its attainment.This definition therefore resists Anne Mellor's seminal discussion of the term.  Mellor uses strands of Schlegelian philosophy of irony and becoming to formulate and substantiate her own notion of the term (that is, becoming) in the specific context of English Romanticism. Discussing Schlegel's notion that irony is characterised by permanent but non-progressive psychic tensions, and that understanding can be arrived at only through incomprehensibility, Mellor asserts that: "This chaos is abundantly fertile, always throwing up new forms, new creations. But insofar as these forms are static and finite, they are inevitably overwhelmed by and reabsorbed into the process of life." Following Schlegelian terms, she stresses that thesis and anti-thesis remain in constant contradiction. Becoming to her is conceived as a never-ending ontological reality, and only an aesthetic mode, she contends, can sustain universal chaos, incomprehensibility and unpredictability. For any aesthetic mode to be appropriate as Romantic irony it must be a form that simultaneously creates and decreates itself.  This form of creation and decreation, Mellor elaborates, makes works intrinsically antisystematic.Mellor adopts an almost pro-deconstructnist attitude towards Coleridge. Her conviction is that, a guilt-ridden ambivalence deterred Coleridge's ironist enthusiasm; therefore she refuses his texts a treatment with regard to the philosophical and artistic implications of irony and becoming. The contention here is that Coleridge philosophically and artistically manifests Romantic irony, which is more...
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