I didn't post about Shelley sooner because I was too busy checking my MySpace and Facebook accounts continuously from a McDonald's while playing World of Warcraft and listening to K-Fed.
Actually, that's only part true.
I was going to talk about sincerity, but I'm going to talk about poets and order instead. In A Defence of Poetry, Shelley stresses how man sees "order" in everything from its "infancy." He says, "Hence men, even in the infancy of society, observe a certain order in their words and actions, distinct from that of the objects and the impressions represented by them, all expression being subject to the laws of that from which it proceeds." He also goes on to say that "Every man in the infancy of art observes an order which approximates more or less closely to that from which this highest delight results: but the diversity is not sufficiently marked, as that its gradations should be sensible, except in those instances where the predominance of this faculty of approximation to the beautiful...is very great. Those in whom it exists in excess are poets, in the most universal sense of the word..."
When I re-read these passages, I thought about the word "order." At first it seemed like Shelley believed there is almost a divine order in art, and if you find out the correct order of things you would have a powerful tool. But then he goes on to say that this may lead to an "approximation of the beautiful." A divine order doesn't seem like it would only lead to an "approximation" of beauty.
If the romantics were so delighted with the order they found in things, why does it delight me to find disorder and discord in things? Is disorder just another kind of "order?"
As humans we categorize (i.e. name) everything we see, and Shelley's notion of "order" isn't so much order as it is categorization. And his idea of base desires seems to have less to do with corn dogs, sex, NASCAR, or carnivals than it does with a sort of "universal" categorization. I think people who discover these universal categories and break them apart are poets.
It is late. I might revise this in the morning.