The consciousness contained in any text (William H. Gass)

…the consciousness contained in any text is not an actual functioning consciousness; it is a constructed one, improved, pared, paced, enriched by endless retrospection, irrelevancies removed, so that into the ideal awareness that I imagined for the poet, who possesses passion, perception, thought, imagination, and desire, and has them present in amounts appropriate to the circumstances-just as, in the lab, we need more observation than fervor, more imagination than lust-there are introduced patterns of disclosure, hierarchies of value, chains of inference, orders of images, natures of things.

From William H. Gass’s essay “The Book as a Container of Consciousness,” published in his collection Finding a Form and available online as a pdf at Wilson Quarterly.

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