What? You thought Wallace wasn't going to bring the philosophy? Think again, busters. In "The Idea of Order at Key West," we can see Stevens grappling with something called philosophical Idealism. Wallace would have been familiar with the Idealism of guys like Plato, Kant, and Hegel—all big names in the philosophy game. But don't panic. No, seriously. You're panicking. Shmoop can tell. To understand this philosophical viewpoint in the poem, though, all you need to know is that Idealism deals with internal and external realms: the perception of reality and the part our minds play in the construction of external reality. Sound familiar? See? You got this. No problem!
Thought block! Stevens gives it a good shot here, but art and philosophy do not belong together. Their aims are just too different. Art should stick to aesthetic (artistic) considerations and leave the philosophical questions to the professionals.
Wrong-o! We approve. "The Idea of Order at Key West" shows that the marriage of art and philosophy has two benefits: it can lead the artist to areas they might not previously have thought to explore, and it can make difficult philosophical ideas accessible to a broader range of people.