The Whole of Harmonium is the idealized totality
of all the poems written, yet to be written, or never written, by Wallace Stevens
. It is not an actual
However, Stevens’ first collection, Harmonium
, does mark the beginning of the compendium
Harmonium is also a kind of instrument, a wind instrument. There is a taste of music in the reference: as if the Whole were the total score, and each poem were one song, or suite of songs. Reading the poems, one cannot help but be struck by the interrelations between them--how terms used in one are defined, altered, or adapted in another, towards a greater, intuitive understanding. Stevens is a philosopher in addition to being a poet. (See especially his collection of essays, The Necessary Angel.)
I am reminded of the phrase “choirs of heaven, furniture of earth,” used by Bishop Berkley somewhere in the Principles of Knowledge. A Platonic notion,
referring to the World of Ideal Forms, outside of the cave, where the true form of things reside--where the choirs sing. Here on earth, inside the cave, are mere reflections of the truth--where we stub our toes on furniture.
I am also reminded of Everything--this database with many links. It is certainly the totality of all the writeups and nodes entered by its users. Unlike Stevens' Whole of Harmonium, the creation of one mind, links in this cave are made are made, or not, by many.
Even for the most conscientious user, however, node integration is not easy. Many links, even if not dirt links, are incomplete or inadequate. However, it is true that I’m now beginning to see the possibilities of spending more and more time making smaller
and smaller writeups as links for the larger writeups I have already made.
This is clearly the encouragement, intentional or not, of the new regime. Though I, and other users, seem to be continuing along with our own projects, and their larger writups, regardless.