By Johan Vising
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Particular things can have a noncompetitive completeness which is transparent to all aspects of the self. This also helps explain why the experience of great beauty tends to unify the self: the object engages us immediately and totally in a way that makes distinctions among points of view irrelevant [my emphasis]. Nagel admits that “even if we achieve a measure of subjective- objective integration by bringing the two standpoints closer together, . . [t]he gap is too wide to be closed entirely, for anyone who is fully human” (222– 23).
39) Some sense of this material economic shift is available to us in Chaucer’s The Nun’s Priest’s Tale, the subject of chapter 1. 54 The Christian’s works and days were shaped by what he or she saw as the abiding presence of the Day of Judgment so that stories narrated a similar pattern of expectation. In important ways, that sense of an ending presses early narrative closure against the eternal circle of boundless and timeless space. This familiar geometric model mirroring the plenitudinous creation of a wise Measurer assures us that there is no lack and no excess but simply space and time without end and, therefore, without measure—as opposed to our own finitude.
Chaucer’s Pardoner, working toward his own profit and Harry Bailey’s putative credit, offered to assess the measure of Harry’s soul mile per mile in case he fell from his horse, broke his neck, and must, unexpectedly, make soulful assessment before God. 45 At day’s end, the attentive farmer knew where he stood in terms of potential and calculable productivity. A. Raftis makes an interesting observation based on the records of Godmanchester, “a small town in late medieval England—1278–1400”: when the inquisitors for the Hundred Rolls (specifically of the year 1279) documented properties and farm payments, they did not organize their information on the basis of value but, rather, in order of their walking itinerary through the town.
Anglo-Norman language and literature by Johan Vising