For first-generation Romantics' struggles to differentiate vision from fanaticism, see Mee, 1, 3-6, 12-14, 17, 239-40, 247; Coleridge's consistent "desynonymization
" of "enthusiasm" and "fanaticism" is an apt example of this anxiety (Mee, 32, 37, 76, 150, 164, 168-72; Cragwall, Lake Methodism, 114).
This definition forms part of a larger process of "desynonymization
," one of Coleridge's most characteristic methods for developing a thought.
While the meanings have emerged in the spaces between the words in Tennyson, however, the result is less successful in Hopkins: "Language falters, halts, then stops altogether, reduced to fragments by questions and dashes and by a daring use of aposiopesis." Rather than the appropriate "words break[ing] from me," Hopkins may be purposely communicating nothing but the breakdown of language itself: "The wreck of the ship, like the disaster of Babel, is also the wreckage or ruin of words, which can no longer express the primal Word behind the bruit of contending words." The poet has aspired "to collapse all words back into a single word or Logos, in a reversal of the process Coleridge calls 'desynonymization
'" and has necessarily failed.
(The other member of the triumvirate, the sublime, is hardly mentioned at all.) (9) One of the main tasks undertaken by the eighteenth-century theorists was the desynonymization
of these terms, the attempt to justify the existence of the picturesque as a separate category between the opposites of the sublime and the beautiful.
Since these two terms, implying discrepant appraisals of referentiality, are often conflated in casual usage, it will be helpful here to separate them by a Coleridgean "desynonymization
." "Formalism" assumes that form, in intimate fusion with conceptual content, is the necessary ontological condition of poems.
Famously, this philosophical activity within the linguistic network "from within one must work, think and act" is for Coleridge the activity of desynonymization
, a clarification and delimitation of the meaning of words, which should lead to greater clarity of thought and ultimately to a clearer basis for human action and interaction.
As his concluding reference to the Book of Judges suggests, Wordsworth was here drawing on a counterplot within contemporary discussions of tautology, which developed out of the analysis of oral and biblical verse and defended the repetition of the same word as a means of desynonymization