>> Okay. We have an extremely famous poem by an extremely famous poet, Robert Frost. Somebody say what the story is, narrate it. Once upon a time, Allie? >> Once upon a time there are two [inaudible]. >> Mm-hm. >>, Were they living in the little Manhattan? >> No they, if they were living in that area it'd probably be somewhere on the Hudson. >> [laugh] >> [laugh] >> But I think Robert Frost was more New England. >> New England. >> Yeah. >> Yeah, so this is real rural. A rural setting. >> Right. And there's a wall between them. And for some reason they don't know why. And they can't. >> What kind of wall? >> A stone wall. >> A stone wall. >> The wall kind of keeps, you know, disintegrating apart. So that. >> Why? >> Didn't really. >> We don't know. It's a mystery. >> Yeah. >> Walls fall apart in every year. >> In every year. There's many time where they kind of need an [inaudible] wall. >> Mm-hm. >> And you know, work together but on. >> So they walk. >> Near distance to. >> So, he and his neighbor walk on the other side. ] ... >> The speaker on one side, his side. What does that mean, his side? >> His property. >> His property, and the neighbor on the other side. And they walk along and they repair. They pick up boulders that have fallen during the year. You know, probably the winter time is when they fell. So they put it back, and they walk along, and they spend a day. Just a day a year together. >> Mm-hm. Anything else to say about? >>, This story? >> Yeah. And, they, kind of have this dialogue. >> Well, I, I don't think the narrator explicitly ... >> The speaker. >> Okay, yeah. >> [laugh] >> The speaker [laugh] explicitly voices his doubts about the nes, the necessity of a wall. But the neighbor seems to say good fences make good neighbors. >> Why does the neighbor say that, Emily? The neighbor says it twice in our hearing. Good fences make good neighbors. >> Yeah. >> Does he say that? >> He says it at the end, and. >> Well, why? >> And somewhere before. Maybe because in that moment he and Robert Frost are good neighbors. They are doing something companionable, constructive together. >> Okay. And, Maurice, why, why does the neighbors like to say it, keeps repeating it? >> Maybe it's because that's where they meet. That's their opportunity to come and correspond and share and. >> He likes being neighborly. [inaudible]. The speaker wonders. Max, the speaker wonders why, the neighbor keeps saying it. >> Any idea? >> Well, for them to be neighbors they have to be. They have to be adjacent. There has to be delineation from, from this is my property and this is yours. So we're neighbors. >> So there's something paradoxical in good fences make good neighbors, right? >> Yes. >> Meaning, in order for us to be good. >> Absolutely. >> In order for our relation to work we have to separate ourselves. Build a wall. Between us. Boundary, separation. You would think. In some, let's just say more liberal notion of. Relationships, that we take the walls down. >> Well, then they're no longer neighbors, if they're sharing the property. >> Uh-oh. [laugh] ... >> Why, why, why literally do we have this wall here, Molly? Why, what is the literal reason for the wall? >> It's just a property division. >> It's a property division. The speaker speculates on what, some conditions it might attain. >> Well, if there were cows, then it would be a way to keep the cows on, like, the owner's side. >> Right, to keep my cows from wandering over to your side and particularly if, you know, he imagines what, that the. >> That his, does he have apple trees on his side? >> Mm-hmm. >> His apple trees might come across, he's joking, might come across the fence and eat the pine cones from your pine tree but this is clearly not gonna happen. [laugh] It's pretty funny. So. >> Why does Frost, why does the speaker say this is just another outdoor game, one on the side? Why is, Dave, why does he say that? It's a funny, funny thing to say. >> I think he's questioning. >> The whole need, and his neighbor's insistence that good fences make good neighbors. He think his neighbor is just saying it blindly out of tradition.'Cause there's no mention about... >> The tradition is very specific. It's his father. >> His father. >> He learned it from his father. He's not going behind, [inaudible] says. He's not going behind the saying to understand why. He's not even thinking about why we need to repair this. And yet the speaker repairs it. Why does the speaker do this? If the speaker is so hip and so mod and so wise and so theoretically sophisticated. And so capable of going behind the rhetorical traditions. Why does he produce story and why does he keep going out there every year, El. >> Inertia. >> Just the kind of... Tradition just goes along, is it, can, can anybody say, Anna? Why does he do that? And what does it have to do with the game, maybe? >> Well. >> I, I mean, that is, it is problematic, isn't it? That, that he, even though he is questioning it he is continuing to. >> It's problematic as a practical matter, but how? Someone explain it to me. >> Well if the wall, if the wall keeps falling down, why not recognize that the wall is falling down and go with the wall falling down? >> The natural state of boundaries is that they erode. Why build them back up? >> Let them erode. >> I know that's your position and mine too. But why build them back up, from Frost's point of view? Max? >> It seems to be that. >> At least, for now, that's the only mode that this speaker and his neighbor have for, for connecting, for the human connection... >> Their only, their only relationship is annually to connect by... >> By restablishing their boundaries. >> By [inaudible] the disconnection. >> But it's, it's, it's jovial, it's friendly. They seem to have a decent time doing it. And that's, that's sort of... >> It's like the July fourth picnic that... >> [inaudible]. >> My parents used to create, just so they could invite the neighbors that they only see on July fourth. And they all look the same every year. Just a little grayer, a little older. The kids are grown and we. But this is not July fourth. It's another kind of ritual, another kind, this is sort of what I was looking for. It's another kind of tradition. It's another kind of ritual. It's another kind of aesthetic mode of life, aesthetic, game. >> It's just another outdoor game, one on a side. We don't do this for any practical reason, we do this because we're human. Frost is implying an idea about relationships. What do. I'm sorry, I just went to a huge topic. But what do you think the poem implies about a theory of human relationships? Max? >> Okay. [laugh] ... >> What's Frost's view, do you think? I know this is hard, but. I think he's, he's saying that. >> That there is a sort of necessary distinction between you and I. And it's, it's, with that distinction. Or, or through, through the gaps in that distinction that we, you know, [inaudible] we'll also tried to fill in that we, that we connect. And that this is. >> So we have. >> I see you as you. And even though I know that, that this is bound, that this could erode, that this isn't permanent. It's still. >> It's still, I'm asserting that, that distinction, that we, that we are connecting, that we are talking, that we are. >> The [inaudible] danger in the erosion of the, of the. Boundary that seperates I from him. I from others. >> Well if there was. >> I mean in Frost's mind? >> If there was no danger, they wouldn't keep building the wall back up. >> If there was, that's nice. If there was no danger, we would have this ritual. This is what I would call, not actively anti-modernist, but it's certainly a conservative rejoinder to the notion that the wall is naturally down and that aesthetic tradition is the building back of those, that wall. I think one of the, one of the hints here we have is in this game, oh it's just another kind of outdoor game, one on a side. What kind of games do we have, one on a side? >> With a wall between. Tennis, ping pong, I think those are the main ones. >> Badminton. >> Badminton. >> Volleyball. >> All versions of the, it's the net. Now what did Frost say about free verse? Free verse is like playing tennis without a net. What did he, he disliked free verse, he disliked H. D. >> He disliked the imagist Williams. Free verse? Ech. It's like pan, playing tennis without a net. What does that mean. Translate that conservatism into anti-modernism. Anybody want to give it a try? Molly? >> Well, he likes rules. He likes... >> Rules are beautiful. >> ... Formal, formal restrictions, guidelines. >> This is classic theoretical conservatism. Rules are beautiful. Distinctions between I and other. Are the reason we have culture. Civilization is based on the distinction. >> The danger of inter-subjectivity, the dan, danger of the merging of subjectivities is, horrifying. >> Is it, of visitors to fairest, or do you think it's even more, goes even further than that? >> I'm not sure what you mean. >> Well, if, when Dickinson writes that, in her, House of hospital, she wants a visitors the fairest. Does that mean that she just wants the people who are willing to do the work to get into the poem, and, and to, you know, do the work of the poem? >> But that... >> Or do you think that she's advocating. >> For rules in the same way that Frost is. >> Oh I don't think that, that what she is doing there has anything to do with this at all. I think she's, she's open, opening up to, to possibility and that house is impossible. >> So do you think that he's also opening up to possibility? >> No. >> No, I don't think he is at all. >> No, I don't think he is. So, let's talk a little more about, free verse is like playing tennis without a net. What's, what happens when you take the net down, Marise? In a tennis game, what are some of the things that happen? >> Well, the rules are right down to you. There's no way to see who wins. >> We don't know who wins. >> We don't know, the real relationship isn't defined any more. >> Relationship isn't defined. It's not tennis anymore. It's unrecognizable. Anything goes. Why does the speaker, the speaker seems to set up the neighbor as someone who's not conscious. The speaker is very conscious of what he's doing. He's our, he's our after modernist doubter of modernism. Okay, I, I get it, I know why the neighbor won't go behind his father's saying I know that this is a rhetorical device to create an occasion for culture. >> But he's, sit. He's, he's, he's setting up, the neighbor to be, dim and dark, and old fashioned. Can we say a little more about the neighbor? What does he say about the neighbor? >> He says specifically he moves in darkness. >> He moves in darkness. He's like, he's like a caveman an, an old stone savage arm. He's got rocks. And he's coming. He lives in darkness. What's that darkness? >> I think it's the tradition of blind tradition. Not thinking. >> Just doing things because our fathers did it. And certainly in agricultural tradition that Frost is commenting on. >> I think what. >> So. >> He's saying too is that like, you know, granted, he's going along with it, with the traditions, because of his traditions. But I think what Frost is saying. I'm conscious of what the tradition means. >> And I still want to use it. >> And I still want to use it. Yes. >> That's what's so smart about this poem. He's staking out a [inaudible]. What I would call a, a theoretical conservative view of identity, and, subjectivity. So that there's a clear distinction between, the subject and object. In this case the object is a guy on the other side of the wall. Does anybody want to push this a little further? Who else might that neighbor be? I was thinking it could be a commentary on political isolationism or something. Wow, I'm not sure we have time to go there, but okay. Who could that? Other be, this is about self and other. >> I mean, the. >> Molly? I'm sorry. Either one. >> I was gonna say a different type of poet, like an old, an older fashioned type of poet. Like Frost. >> It could even be a newer fashioned kind of poet, you know? Like, some, he may argue that some modernists just do the modern thing because it's modern. >> Oh I think we're pushing pretty hard here, I mean. >> Yeah it's really hard. >> But he talks about because. >> I don't think the guy's a poet. >> You've been doing things because your father's. No? Okay. >> Who is he? >> I don't know. [laugh] It's been, I think it's been argued that the, that this is an alter ego, that this is a. Another. This is version of. This is Frost meeting himself. This is Frost, seeing, seeing. >> Version of himself. >> But he's so disdainful of this other person. >> Well, his... >> [laugh] >> He likes having thought of it so well. >> He's meeting a crusty, you know, he's meeting the guy who makes the poem so great. The guy who comes up with the line that, that's so great in this poem, he's meeting Mr. Iamb, Mr. Iambic. If good fences make good neighbors, he's meeting the man who creates the aesthetic here. He, he's got more self consciousness than he knows what to do with, the speaker does. What do you think, so, [inaudible] before we wrap up what do, what do. Do you like this? It's such a famous poem. It's so smart. It's really about ... >> It's really about this, the need for the wall. Even though there's no practical need. There's a cultural and psychological need. This is where beauty is. What do you think of all this? >> I actually do like it. But I also thing that. Yeah, and I agree with you that this is about the need for the wall kind of aesthetically and formally in terms of poetry. But I also think that there is. An ambiguity in terms of how, the speaker feels about it. That's makes it very human. And that's the part of the poem that I. >> Appreciate the most. >> Dave what do you think? >> I do that completely the way that the speaker is so mischievous as he calls himself. And he's still questioning it but in the end he still goes along with it. >> He certainly affirms it and he creates a beautiful poem. So he's really not ready to question it to the point where the. Where he says you know what screw it. Let's not built this. Let's go and have a drink. Or let's not know each other at all. We don't have anything in common. Why are we doing this? We're doing it because it is a ritual. Our fathers have done this. >> By the way, why are there stones at, in this? Why are there stone walls in New England? Anybody know? >> Are there stones in New England? >> [laugh] >> There are lots of stones in New England. These are glacial. Yeah, there are lots of stones. >> Does it, does it have something, does it kind of harken back to the colonial period, and the Revolutionary War? >> Why did, why did they put the, why did they put the walls? Did they put the walls to separa-, to mark boundaries, which is the assumption here? >> I don't know. >> You know anything about this? >> I'm almost thinking of barricades. [laugh] ... >> No. I don't think barricades. I think the, the, the glacier left boulders and then settlers went there to try to, it's a short growing season up there, but they tried to till the soil and you have to get rid of the boulders. Where do you put the boulders? Put it at the edge of the field. These are not. Actually, if you want to be natural about it, you wanna go back to not just the, the, the neighbor's father, but the father's, father's, father's father. You get a guy who's not creating boundaries but actually moving stones out of the fields to the edges. I just thought I'd throw that in there. Okay. So finally let's talk about why the wall comes down. The speaker makes, the speaker who seems to be a very rational fellow, and who pokes fun at the irrationality of the neighbor. He falls down on that in one regard, he doesn't know why. The wall comes down. It's magic. Something there is that doesn't love a wall, but we don't know what it is. >> What is it? You can speak scientifically, geologically, poetically, metaphorically, spiritually. Emily pick one of those disciplines. Why does the wall come down? >> It's, that's what old buildings, old structures do. It's nature, it's decay, entropy. >> Nature likes things to go horizontal, yeah. Sort of like the Dickensonian flood. You might as well not. There's the difference between Emily and Frost. >> Emily is in favor of letting the mind follow the style, course, and mode of the water, or of the, while falling. >> And he's in favor of the. >> And he's in favor of the. Artifice, culture that allows us to have these relationships maintained. Very great distinction between you and me. Okay, so but what is it Max, that, I'm sort of looking you to answer. What is it that brings the wall down? >> Because he doesn't seem to know. >> Which, which are we talking about? The physical wall ... >> Yeah. The physical wall. >> Or the wall between you and I? >> Oh! Well, either one, but you know, why does the wall come down, by itself? >> I, I. >> Is it elves? >> I always like. >> Are there elves in the night? >> To read this and imagine the speaker himself full of mischief. >> Taking down the [inaudible]. >> [laugh] This goes out, this goes out to take. >> [laugh] >> This is the only that [inaudible] to do. >> So, I have something to talk about. >> [laugh] >> Anybody want, why, anything about theology of about meteorology. >> This whole cycle? >> Yeah, what is it that brings the world down? >> Expansion and construction. >> Hm. >> Of the, of the ground. >> Yeah, yeah. There's one word for it. >> Frozen ground [inaudible]. >> Yeah, that's several words. >> [laugh] >> What's the, what's the one word for it? >> Winter? >> Winter, there's another word begins with an f. >> [inaudible] >> Not much. >> Fish and [inaudible]. >> [inaudible]. >> Begins with an F. >> [inaudible]. >> Frost. >> Frost. You want to know what brings the wall down? That's how much, how much mischief, there is in. >> Oh my. >> Robert. >> God. >> Frost. >> Alright. >> His, his, his speaker, his speaker, his speaker wants the wall up. >> It's terrible. >> In order to have a relationship with the neighbor whose own self conscious, but the poet. >> Knows exactly why the wall comes down. It's Frost that brings the wall down so you're not wrong when you say that the speaker in the middle of the night goes down and takes the wall down. But it's actually not the speaker. It's Frost, the poet who takes it down so we can bring it back up. And that's, he's finally the author of this somewhat anti-modernist view of subject object relations.