I keep thinking about a quote from Emerson that I’ve used elsewhere on the blog:
“I would write on the lintels of the doorpost, Whim. I hope it is somewhat better than whim at last, but we cannot spend the day in explanation.”
Yes, we hope it’s better than whim at last, but what’s so bad about whim? If the form is strong, if the conventions are well established, then one can act with complete freedom. That’s what I hear in Schubert, for example. The trouble we face today is that we have total freedom, so are virtually compelled to find an organic necessity within the material—that’s if we don’t cop out and settle for an idea, an external justification, not aesthetic (see Gilbert-Rolfe). External order—subjective freedom; no external order—internal necessity, organically grown. Whim—the small flickering fire that leads us on. Emerson hopes
to be passed over, as if his genius gives him a permit to escape destruction. Unlikely.