By W. J. T. Mitchell
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39 Human desire (Frye's conception is Sartrean) is the absence of form or structure~a "lack" which causes form or structure to come into being while remaining itself unconditioned by law, a "lack" standing outside of structurality as an unmodified and unmodifiable metaphysical ding an sich. " Desire is the deepest human center of governance; it is not the property of a single, differentiated subject, but the intersubjective force which impels all activity of expression, all civilizing humanization and ordering of an indifferent and stupid nature.
In Frye's book we see the entire neo-Kantian aestheticist movement brought to its logical conclusion: from the holistic holiness of the single poem, to the privileging of the entire canon of all literary objects as the literary universe, to the highest of all aestheticisms (the term now becomes meaningless) in which every act of making is glorified as art. The argument of our last essay ... led to the principle that all structures in words are partly rhetorical, and hence literary, and that the notion of a scientific or philosophical verbal structure free of rhetorical elements is an illusion.
I think I have written in its spirit. "2 Though Wimsatt proceeds immediately to the attack, at some length, and in decidedly devilish detail, in an eHort to forestall the elevation of Frye to critical sainthood, it turns out that canonization was not imminent after all. Eulogy-or perhaps its ritual opposite, the debunking of the recently deceased, recently mythologized hero-was more properly in order. For the English Institute volume of 1966 reads now, with the hindsight a decade provides, like an ironic memorial (only Fletcher was celebratory) to a critical career that had reached stardom and then, more quickly than anyone might have predicted in the middle 1960s, lost its claim to center stage.