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Sowing “A Quilt of Harmony”: An Eco-Phenomenological Reading of Ben Okri’s “Lines in Potentis” from Wild (2012)

  • Rosemary Gray
Chapter
Part of the Analecta Husserliana book series (ANHU, volume CXXI)

Abstract

This article begins with a brief discussion of the terminology used, followed by an explication of its title, words taken from “A Wedding Prayer,” a poem in Ben Okri’s (Wild. Random House, London. Print, 2012) anthology, Wild, that is to say, the significance of sowing/sewing “a quilt of harmony” (20), that in relation to the broad yet symbiotic theme of Life, Human Life, Post-Human Life in the Harmony of the Cosmos. A close reading of Okri’s ‘Lines in Potentis,’ a poem commissioned by the then Lord Mayor of London in 2002 in commemoration of the bombing of the City of London and featured in Okri’s most recent anthology of poetry, is next. Both title and argument are predicated on the former poem, which is not analyzed in any detail. Axiomatic to the interpretation is the poet’s own conception of wild as a defamiliarization of the familiar to regain a sense of equipoise through our link with the “stars.” As I attempt to show in my reading of the focal poem, this is not aesthetic posturing; it has to do with mystical unrest viewed from an epistemic eco-phenomenological “enjoyment of literature, of beauty, of the sublime, the elevated, as well as our compassion for the miseries of humankind, [and] generosity towards others … inspired by the subliminal passions of the human soul,” to invoke the words of the late Anna-Teresa Tymieniecka (Tymieniecka, The theme/The esoteric passion for place. In: Tymieniecka A-T (ed) Passion for place, Book II. Analecta Husserliana LI. ix–xiv. Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht/Boston/London. Print. 1997).

Keywords

A way of being free “A wedding prayer” Eco-phenomenology “Lines in Potentis” Ben Okri Ontopoiesis Anna-Teresa Tymieniecka Wild (2012) 

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rosemary Gray
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of EnglishUniversity of PretoriaPretoriaSouth Africa

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