Disappointment: Or the Light of Common Day by Bruce E. Fleming
In his new work, Disappointment, Bruce Fleming starts from the realization that even objective views of the world are so only under specific circumstances. Subjects range from war and the nature of explanation systems such as science and astrology to a concept Fleming calls "coloring." When we identify coloring, it seems to us that a single quality of something larger has eclipsed all its other qualitiesfor example, skin color or sexual orientation coming to stand for the whole much more complex individual. Once identified, coloring can be questioned and rejected. However, to eliminate coloring, we must already have identified it as such. Before we perceive coloring, we think we've given an objective description of the world: today's coloring was yesterday's objective. But this in turn suggests that today's objective may be tomorrow's coloring. Realizing this is what leads to the technical notion of disappointment examined in this text, a feeling that life is a process of constant revision, not a final state. Through the consideration of literature, artistic, and philosophical works, Fleming explores the impact of disappointment on our view of the world. Beginning with the imagery of Wordsworth who lamented the "glory in the flower" of our youth fading "into the light of common day," and the iconography of the death mask of King Tut, Disappointment suggests that the world both is what it claims to be, and yet is not.
Bruce E. Fleming is a graduate of Haverford College and holds a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from Vanderbilt University. He is a Professor of English at the United States Naval Academy and author of the previous University Press of America books Art and Argument, Science and the Self, and Sexual Ethics, as well as the Naval Academy memoir Annapolis Autumn and the novel Twilley. He is the recipient of the 2005 Antioch Review Award for Distinguished Prose.