PDA

View Full Version : Poetry is?



ColoradoGuy
01-10-2007, 07:20 PM
Consider poetry on one end of a textual spectrum and, say, a textbook of statistics on the other. The author of the textbook tries desperately to stomp out any reader response at all; the author wants a totally identical response to the text in the minds of all readers.

Poetry, though, is pure reader response. Poetry is painting with words. Some poets strive for a predictable reader response, just as some painters do, whereas others aim for wildly unpredictable responses: think Hudson School landscape painter vs. Jackson Pollock.

Poetry, too, often has that instant emotion effect on our brains, bypassing analytical processing. Even though poetic language did that, it seemed to do so instantly and directly. How does that happen, anyway?

William Haskins
01-10-2007, 07:28 PM
i think language, properly manipulated, can "trick" the mind into a visual sensation, much in the same way that impressionist painting can.

i agree that it is something of a short-circuit of the analytical mind. i've always found it interesting that it can trip a subconscious switch.

giftedrhonda
01-10-2007, 07:31 PM
Oh, I like that explanation. Sometimes, it tricks the mind by not giving it what it expected (I think that's reader-response theory)...the reader was expecting one thing but got another. That is enough to paint a vivid image and make something stand out...

ColoradoGuy
01-10-2007, 08:52 PM
Since poetry shares with smells and sounds the instant ability to affect us, Iím not surprised it crosses so many cultural and linguistic divides, Chinese to Greek. If poetry is the distilled essence of language, this is a roundabout way to ask if language, as poetry, is innate to the brain. Iíve rummaged around some in books of poetic theory (Helen Vendler, Harold Bloom, Adrienne Rich), but I donít know what to think about it.

There are problems in the smelling/hearing analogy of how poetry affects the brain. Barring some rare deformities, we all can hear and smell. Yet some folks do not get poetry at all. Interestingly, though, these folks can come to understand and even feel poetics. Maybe itís like a wine palate; that, too, can be taught to most folks with practice.

To tease the brainís poetic sense out Iíd like to find an example somewhere of a poetic idiot savant -- a person with a highly developed poetic ability yet stupidly inarticulate in every other way. Iíve met a few rhyming psychotics, even had a few in the neighborhood, but thatís not the same thing.

And, since poetry is distilled essence of language, itís so difficult to write well. Bare language boring into the brain.

Hatís off to you, William; itís a tough row to hoe.

kdnxdr
01-12-2007, 04:33 PM
"Poetry is pure reader response".

Then I would ask, "what about the element of self satisfaction?".

"...has instant emotion effect on our brains, bypassing analytical processing."

And I would ask, "Then why meter/mathmatics?" "How can (we) extrapolate poetic theory or poetic studies or translations, critiques, transformations (into other products/arts) and interpretations?"

When is the human mind exclusively non-analytical?

The senses are for collecting data to be analyized. Emmotional response comes after analysis. Compare first generation computers to current capabilities. Truth is, (we) really don't know what the mind is actually capable of when it comes to analyizing and assimilating information.

Poetry, as any form of communication, is code. I don't get chinese language. I have read one book on the pictorial concepts embedded in the written symbols and find that I am intriqued with the pictorial poetics of the language/code. For example: if you deconstruct the radicals (elements of the whole character/word), you find that the character/word for light is man on fire. To me that is intensely interesting.

There are templates that reside in the human brain that are ancient first templates, those don't disappear. (We) only modify and recombine to spawn layers and layers of other templates.

Poetry is just grunting to some and elucidating to others, as true with any code.

KTC
01-12-2007, 04:48 PM
Poetry is a conglomeration of words formed together to create the images in the poet's consciousness at the time the words were written. Poetry is a representation of the movement of thoughts through the mind.

ColoradoGuy
01-12-2007, 06:23 PM
There are templates that reside in the human brain that are ancient first templates, those don't disappear. (We) only modify and recombine to spawn layers and layers of other templates.
The issue of whether language capacity is innate to our brains or is entirely learned is the ultimate linguistic puzzle. I haven't decided what I think about it, although I expect that, like most nature/nurture debates, we will ultimately discover that we have framed the terms of the debate incorrectly. I've slogged through Chomsky and friends enough to grasp what he is claiming, I think, but it's too esoteric for me to asses if I agree with them.

Medievalist
01-12-2007, 07:21 PM
Neurologically, poetry engages several different areas of the brain, and those areas differ if one is reading silently, reading aloud, or listening to poetry being read.

And the areas are not all on the right side of the brain, either.

Medievalist
01-12-2007, 07:24 PM
To tease the brainís poetic sense out Iíd like to find an example somewhere of a poetic idiot savant -- a person with a highly developed poetic ability yet stupidly inarticulate in every other way. Iíve met a few rhyming psychotics, even had a few in the neighborhood, but thatís not the same thing.

One of the most ancient core myths of I.E. languages are myths about how the Łber bard or poet obtained his gift. They tend to be idiot savant types. I'll post a couple myths if people are interested, but I don't want to derail the discussion here.

ColoradoGuy
01-12-2007, 07:40 PM
Neurologically, poetry engages several different areas of the brain, and those areas differ if one is reading silently, reading aloud, or listening to poetry being read.

And the areas are not all on the right side of the brain, either.
I'm fascinated. Was that done by PET scanning or regional cerebral glucose/oxygen blood flow studies? Got any references? I'd love to see them

ColoradoGuy
01-12-2007, 07:41 PM
One of the most ancient core myths of I.E. languages are myths about how the Łber bard or poet obtained his gift. They tend to be idiot savant types. I'll post a couple myths if people are interested, but I don't want to derail the discussion here.
I'd love to see them. You could put them in a new thread.

kdnxdr
01-15-2007, 02:27 AM
Poetry is seeing and saying.

William Haskins
01-15-2007, 04:03 AM
Poetry is seeing and saying.

so is a travelogue. so is a movie review. so is a pet guide.

pdr
01-15-2007, 01:19 PM
please define what poetry you are talking about.

For me much poetry written by the self styled post-moderns (sigh!) is not poetry because it lacks things I regard as needed in poetry.

(And no I'm not talking about a poem must rhyme but some posters have talked about emotions and most PostM poetry is as cold emotionally as yesterday's kipper!)

Medievalist
01-15-2007, 04:24 PM
Poetry has meter, and the meter is patterned and largely predictable--that said, there are a number of different kinds of meter, some of which are not accentual or syllabic in the sense of post 1100 English poetry.

I would argue that there are prose poems, and that some prose, say much of Churchill's speeches, are essentially poetic if not poems.

Puma
01-16-2007, 03:28 AM
Bless you, Medievalist, for saying that poetry has patterned meter. Puma

Pat~
01-16-2007, 03:41 AM
Poetry is linguistic music...or maybe it is lyrical thought.

pdr
01-16-2007, 05:11 AM
what happened to poetry? How did it become what so called poets in the late 20thC inflicted upon us?

I need to find an example and then you can show me the metre and lyrical thought that I can't find in the darned things.

Working all today will try tonight, my time!

Medievalist
01-16-2007, 06:45 AM
There are scads of lovely poems in the late twentieth century; go take a look at the Norton Anthology of Contemporary Poetry.

And keep in mind that the person saying this generally skips stuff after 1832 . . . .

William Haskins
01-16-2007, 06:58 AM
wow.

/backs away slowly...

Medievalist
01-16-2007, 07:04 AM
wow.

/backs away slowly...

Aw come on Haskins . . . you know I like aged stuff!

poetinahat
01-16-2007, 07:36 AM
pdr, the way I read your posts, it sounds as though you're saying that for a writer to claim "It's poetry because I say it is" is specious. That's how I feel.

As far as I was concerned, the Dada artists (with their random generations of art), Marcel Duchamp (with his urinal on the gallery wall), and John Cage (performing a 'piano concert' in a city square, simply opening the keyboard and claiming the ambient city noise as the musical work) already finished off that conceptual line of thinking. It worked for the first artists, one time; after that, it's a bore.

If that's the case, I agree, although the distinction between "not qualified as art" and "bad art" is not a huge one for me; the level of interest or engagement is the same to me.

I don't necessarily need to be made to feel; being made to think is sufficient for me. But, as with any other form of art, I want and expect some sensory elevation from the experience.

pdr
01-16-2007, 12:01 PM
have a look here: http://www.eratiopostmodernpoetry.com/issue8_Chikhladze.html

They are, for me, a better class of Postmod work. BUT I find many of them words without connection to the writer and thus lost to the reader. Often they're very turned inwards and naval gazing so that the reader needs an interpreter, they're without soul if you like. I can't read them aloud, which is half poetry's pleasure.

For me poetry needs to be accessible. Not easy, I don't mean that, I mean that there is a way in through the way the images and ideas, the way the words are expressed.


And keep in mind that the person saying this generally skips stuff after 1832 . . . .
And that's an unnecessary comment which could be taken to be rather rude.
Let's stick to the topic please.

Medievalist
01-16-2007, 12:14 PM
And keep in mind that the person saying this generally skips stuff after 1832 . . . .
And that's an unnecessary comment which could be taken to be rather rude.
Let's stick to the topic please.

What?

What the heck do you think Medievalist means? It's not rude, it's a statement of fact.

I don't generally favor much after 1832; with the exception of the English novel, I don't even teach lit after 1832.

Dude it's my taste in literature and my career. What did you think it was?

You struggling with the antecendent of this? I'm talking about me, OK?

Not you. Me. And really, I've never yet offended myself.

kdnxdr
01-16-2007, 04:14 PM
As with anything in life, there are differing camps. And, as usual, the camps differing usually have difficulty coming to any kind of consensus. And, in some cases, wars start. So, in the world of poetry, I can see how it behooves persons to live happily in their camps, venture over to visit friendly camps and if one desires, abdicate your camp and join another according to their criteria of membership if that becomes your passion. Otherwise, maintain civility.

Poetry is one voice in a world of many voices, find yours.

pdr, I went to the link you supplied. Definately difficult stuff to read and digest, especially if you have no appetite for that type of poetry. The way that I personally can refer to that style as poetry is that I see it as a long chain of links that has come to rest. Each link is an icon or singular concept that when considered links to the other involved concepts & icons. Each one stands alone for consideration/meditation, like catholic prayer beads. And, when the individual concepts are considered, the next step is to consider/meditate on how they link together. After considering the individual elements of the piece, the whole can then be visualized as a complete picture/meditation and this will produce a statement, layered with many statements.

I don't listen well to techtronic music either. In fact, there's alot of music I don't get.

janetbellinger
01-16-2007, 07:41 PM
To me, poetry is music of the soul

pdr
01-17-2007, 08:33 AM
Oh, so sorry, Medievalist, I misread your sentence as one of those where you are using 'this person' to mean anyone who only reads poetry written before 1832. I plead old age, haste and the wrong reading glasses!


I see it as a long chain of links that has come to rest. Each link is an icon or singular concept that when considered links to the other involved concepts & icons. Each one stands alone for consideration/meditation, like catholic prayer beads. And, when the individual concepts are considered, the next step is to consider/meditate on how they link together. After considering the individual elements of the piece, the whole can then be visualized as a complete picture/meditation and this will produce a statement, layered with many statements.

I found this interesting and helpful, kdnxdr, but where is the link from the poet to reader so that the reader can enter the poem and see those concepts? I can't find one through image, or emotion. Indeed it appears that most of these poets stand apart from their work, making a clinical and analytical selection of words which we then have to view without the poet's help.

Yes, I agree there are schools of poetry and some will be more favourite than others but what seriously disturbs me, because I'm a writer and deal with words, and because I love poetry, is that I can't find any poetry written now, in my own time, that I can access and relate to. It's scary.

kdnxdr
01-19-2007, 11:14 AM
For me, language is like food, everyone has their own appetite and taste preferences. It's not really a matter of judgement as to what is or is not edible. Everything everywhere is digestible to someone, I think. Rust loves to eat metal. Black holes consume galaxies.

You have referenced yourself as an older person. That, if you will please allow me, is an indicator that you have preferences and tastes that will dictate to you what is, or is not, acceptable. (I'm an older person, too).
Also, you mentioned that you work in a writing profession or have alot to do with writing in some way. Your professional training will also affect what you choose as acceptable.

Granted, some poetry/writing is negative/ugly or involves language/icons that don't connect because they come out of a foreign (to you) culture base.

Generations have similiarities but characteristically, younger cultures strive to disengage from previous cultures, particularly in the western cultures where personal autonomy is so promoted.

I am not educated and so what little I know about literature, communication theory and learning theory isn't anything to speak of. However, I think in these areanas (too tired to look of spelling of this one tonight, sorry if mispelled), it seems that some of the new poetry strives to find an anti-beat while some strives for pure beat. I think free verse is a medium in poetry that promotes experimentation.

Statement is often at the heart of a poem and those statements are often open-ended and questioning or political and definitive. Our is a culture steeped in icons and I believe icons are like flags of cultures and their sub-cultures.

That's my 2.

kid

ColoradoGuy
01-20-2007, 12:08 AM
I've read most of the twentieth-century standard American poets (William Carlos Williams is my favorite, followed by Wallace Stevens). I think I'm pretty open to any and all kinds of rhyme, meter, or lack of either. That doesn't concern me much. What I do look for is that instant zing feeling when the words have struck home in my brain by triggering a feeling of some kind. I particularly like the poems that are so subtle about how this has happened that I need to go back to the poem with a linguistic can opener to puzzle out exactly how and why the zing happened.

Some poems will zing different people for different reasons; I suppose that's what taste is. To me that mental zing, whatever it is, distinguishes whatever poetic language is from other language. Some prose can do that, too, and to that extent is poetic also. Lincoln's second inaugural speech springs to my mind as an example of that effect.

kdnxdr
01-20-2007, 04:59 AM
I think Annie Dillard's prose is sooooooooooooooo poetic. I love her writing!

Puma
01-20-2007, 06:12 PM
You can't find any poetry written now that you can relate to because the majority of it isn't being published. It is being written (or has been written in the last fifty years) I would argue that there are a lot of people who feel like you who would buy books or magazines of "more traditional" poetry but publishers are afraid that it won't sell. And so you languish.

I put one Shakespaerian sonnet on the Poetry SYW board and after the comments and the questions as to what I was thinking about when I wrote it and my mood, I won't do that again. It seems to me that these days everyone has to try to do a psychological analysis of the author rather than thinking that an author might only be trying to capture the visual image or a sentiment. Readers seem to have abandoned the days of face value and insist that everything of importance is between the lines. Puma

ColoradoGuy
01-20-2007, 07:08 PM
It seems to me that these days everyone has to try to do a psychological analysis of the author rather than thinking that an author might only be trying to capture the visual image or a sentiment. Readers seem to have abandoned the days of face value and insist that everything of importance is between the lines. Puma
Perhaps that is because people think of poetry as Serious Writing, and Serious Writing contains, by definition, profound hidden tropes and whatnot.

You sound like a New Critic -- you buy the intentional fallacy (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intentional_fallacy)?

kdnxdr
01-20-2007, 10:11 PM
Colorado Guy,

I appreciate you bringing up Intentional Fallacy and providing the link. It was very interesting information and has now become a subject I will be giving more attention.

kid

Medievalist
01-20-2007, 10:22 PM
You can't find any poetry written now that you can relate to because the majority of it isn't being published. It is being written (or has been written in the last fifty years) I would argue that there are a lot of people who feel like you who would buy books or magazines of "more traditional" poetry but publishers are afraid that it won't sell. And so you languish.

Honestly, I strongly disagree. If you look at the small press poetry journals, you'll see lots of it. I'm not really versed in contemporary poetry, but I know that Adrienne Rich and Donald Hall and Louse Gluck and Carolyn Forche and Marilyn Hacker and W. D. Snodgrass, and Galway Kinnell and Seamus Heaney, and Mary Oliver . . .

Look here (http://www.poets.org/).

ColoradoGuy
01-20-2007, 10:39 PM
Wendell Berry's coming to town next month, and the function is over-subscribed already. I don't think that's just because of his politics -- people also want to meet and greet a practicing poet. Should be interesting.

ColoradoGuy
01-21-2007, 01:38 AM
Honestly, I strongly disagree. If you look at the small press poetry journals, you'll see lots of it. I'm not really versed in contemporary poetry, but I know that Adrienne Rich and Donald Hall and Louse Gluck and Carolyn Forche and Marilyn Hacker and W. D. Snodgrass, and Galway Kinnell and Seamus Heaney, and Mary Oliver . . .

Look here (http://www.poets.org/).
And Donald Justice -- I love Donald Justice.

Puma
01-21-2007, 02:55 AM
Different strokes for different folks. The majority, not my cup of tea. Puma

pdr
01-21-2007, 04:55 AM
What with kdn... telling me kindly I'm an outdated, outmoded old fogey and all... I must rush and buy a coffin!

No, in seriousness, I am talking about the Postmod poetry available for me to read, mainly in my own NZ.

Yes, at my age I do expect to be a bit set in my ways and to have to think my way through that. But I do. I could be sitting safely in NZ on a small govt pension and moaning about the job situation. Instead I'm thoroughly uncomfortable working in Asia in a very different culture and relishing every new experience. So yes, I am open to new different experiences. And I love poetry, playing with and sheer skill with words.

BUT poetry is a people thing. I don't find the poet in most PostMod poetry. I look to enjoy/share/wonder at/ shiver at/be hurt by/think about the poet's experience through hir poem. But if the poet stands aside giving us mere words without a connection then I often can't find my way into the poem or find the images to share.

Medievalist
01-21-2007, 05:07 AM
I'm not sure, exactly, what is meant by Post Modern Poetry, in this instance. PoMo is one of those odd terms that can mean both a critical stance, that is a collection of tropes and motifs and techniques, and a reference to an historical era.

I've loved, for instance, reading sonnet cycles by contemporary poets, poets writing in the era from, oh, 1985 to 2005.

ColoradoGuy
01-21-2007, 05:21 AM
Here's a link (http://www.colorado.edu/English/courses/ENGL2012Klages/pomo.html)to a good little summary of what this amorphous thing "post-modernism" is. Sort of, anyway. It's very readable. Go have a look if you want to get handle on some of the terms, particularly the PoMo chestnuts "signifier" and "signified."

From the link:

Another aspect of Enlightenment thought . . . is the idea that language is transparent, that words serve only as representations of thoughts or things, and don't have any function beyond that. Modern societies depend on the idea that signifiers always point to signifieds, and that reality resides in signifieds. In postmodernism, however, there are only signifiers. The idea of any stable or permanent reality disappears, and with it the idea of signifieds that signifiers point to. Rather, for postmodern societies, there are only surfaces, without depth; only signifiers, with no signifieds.

kdnxdr
01-21-2007, 08:08 AM
pdr,

Please forgive me. I appreciate your response, particularly your clarification of what you personally look for in a poem.

kid

pdr
01-21-2007, 01:50 PM
Postmodernism, in contrast, doesn't lament the idea of fragmentation, provisionality, or incoherence, but rather celebrates that. The world is meaningless? Let's not pretend that art can make meaning then, let's just play with nonsense.

Yes, indeed. That in a nutshell is what gives me acid indigestion in my brain! I can't call it poetry. 'Poems' like these are a slap in my face or so inward looking and navel gazing as to be incomprehensibly egotistical.


Apology not needed, kid. I find that most people younger than me in our culture seem to think that age = stupid = poor old sod's been nowhere and done nothing. It isn't so in Japan, Korea or China and I shall find it hard to work in Spain next year where my grey hairs will not be revered!

kdnxdr
01-21-2007, 08:33 PM
I think of my gray hairs as trophies that I have earned. I wear them like flags!

kdnxdr
01-21-2007, 08:36 PM
In the Wizard of Oz, the wicked witch of the East (?) said, "I'm melting, I'm melting!"

I think in post-modernism the credo is, "I'm deconstructing, I'm deconstructing!" If poetry heralds the feelings of it's society, then society at large IS deconstructing. I wonder if I'm the only one who noticed?

pdr
01-22-2007, 04:33 AM
societies may be deconstructing but the world isn't nor are most people.

Societies have changed (deconstructed is the sort of elitist word a PostMer would use rather than good old 'change'.) but then they always do. What's so staggeringly new about that?

Higgins
01-22-2007, 05:05 AM
Here's a link (http://www.colorado.edu/English/courses/ENGL2012Klages/pomo.html)to a good little summary of what this amorphous thing "post-modernism" is. Sort of, anyway. It's very readable. Go have a look if you want to get handle on some of the terms, particularly the PoMo chestnuts "signifier" and "signified."

From the link:

Another aspect of Enlightenment thought . . . is the idea that language is transparent, that words serve only as representations of thoughts or things, and don't have any function beyond that. Modern societies depend on the idea that signifiers always point to signifieds, and that reality resides in signifieds. In postmodernism, however, there are only signifiers. The idea of any stable or permanent reality disappears, and with it the idea of signifieds that signifiers point to. Rather, for postmodern societies, there are only surfaces, without depth; only signifiers, with no signifieds.

Actually most postmodern ideas have been around as limiting cases since at least the Enlightenment (eg. Kant's "thing-in-itself" that operates beyond signifiers, implying all really have is signifiers). Which means that modernism isn't all that different from post modernism and really they aren't that different from Romanticism in terms of what is in play in terms of aesthetics. Same game, different ways of scoring: chaos = tragedy for modernists, passion for Romantics and something vaguely cool for postmoderns. The fact that tragedy, chaos and passion amount to "something vaguely cool" is perhaps the greatest puzzle of post modernism BUT it would make life much easier for poets if they aimed at a post modern idea of triumph over tragedy, chaos and passion and merely tried to avoid falling prey to some vague notion of what might or might not be something vaguely cool. Shouldn't be too hard, or so I would hope if I still wrote poetry.

PS: Added "at least" incase there are good limiting medieval cases..............

Medievalist
01-22-2007, 05:16 AM
HA!

PoMo is just a poor man's rip-off of the Middle ages; they invented serio ludere ;)

pdr
01-22-2007, 05:38 AM
the silly buggers that then. Maybe they might leave their precious and egotistical, self centred naval gazing and join the real world if they knew their elitist group was not original but merely a pale shadow of what's been done before.

ColoradoGuy
01-22-2007, 05:42 AM
Like may folks on the AW boards, I had a hiatus in my graduate education. When I returned to the fray in the mid-nineties I was struck with how cultish this all had become during my absence. It seemed to me that post-modernist notions, or at least how they were applied by its practitioners, became stranger and stranger the further one got from actual English departments. My field was history, and there were some very annoying zealots at work there. Interestingly, they usually dealt with secondary PoMo sources, rarely knowing the originals very well. It was like Derrida-Lite.

Medievalist
01-22-2007, 06:07 AM
To be fair, Derrida in French, and in person, were both very very funny. He had a wonderfully bawdy sense of humor. I spent much of a day as his tour guide, and he really was a lot of fun, even though the faculty took great delight in telling him I loathed theory.

ColoradoGuy
01-22-2007, 08:18 AM
To be fair, Derrida in French, and in person, were both very very funny. He had a wonderfully bawdy sense of humor. I spent much of a day as his tour guide, and he really was a lot of fun, even though the faculty took great delight in telling him I loathed theory.
You've spent time with both Fish and Derrida, but don't like Theory: does this mean you light up, but don't inhale?

Higgins
01-22-2007, 08:21 AM
Like may folks on the AW boards, I had a hiatus in my graduate education. When I returned to the fray in the mid-nineties I was struck with how cultish this all had become during my absence. It seemed to me that post-modernist notions, or at least how they were applied by its practitioners, became stranger and stranger the further one got from actual English departments. My field was history, and there were some very annoying zealots at work there. Interestingly, they usually dealt with secondary PoMo sources, rarely knowing the originals very well. It was like Derrida-Lite.

Well...it was fun in the 70s and by the mid 1980s some real methodological progress had been made especially in the History of Science...which finally got free of the philosophy of science thanks to the ideas about the fundamental power of narratives and their construction (as demonstrated, a bit paradoxically by "deconstruction"), but by the 90s the whole post modern thing was a vast degenerate manneria...and now its just a tragedy, no I mean, chaotic, no wait a passion, no wait something vaguely cool or not.
Anyway, now I think any reasonable methodology should be okay since any reasonable person can find some pomo way to pose anything they can do in a coherent way (no doubt much to the confusion of the hardcore pomo-ster who is just sure that nothing makes any sense and yet is easily bamboozled into something sensible by anything that makes even a tiny bit of sense....in the land of the senseless, the sensible is king)...

Higgins
01-22-2007, 08:23 AM
You've spent time with both Fish and Derrida, but don't like Theory: does this mean you light up, but don't inhale?

You own a pistol, but you don't shoot yourself in the foot every day just to show you have a foot.

ColoradoGuy
01-22-2007, 08:49 AM
You own a pistol, but you don't shoot yourself in the foot every day just to show you have a foot.
Ya lost me on that one -- pardon me while I deconstruct it some . . .

Medievalist
01-22-2007, 08:55 AM
You've spent time with both Fish and Derrida, but don't like Theory: does this mean you light up, but don't inhale?

Here's the issue for me: My exposure to theory has always been to theory, pure theory, unadulterated and unleavened with literature.

That's sort of obscene, really, but that's pretty common in grad school.

Now in person, both Fish and Derrida spoke about literature -- I'd been slowly reading Rabelais in French and Derrida was absolutely brilliant and funny and really helped me figure out parts of Rabelais that didn't make sense because, well, because they were very very French. And Fish really does love Milton, and when he's talking about Milton, that love shows.

For me, theory is only interesting in the application.

ColoradoGuy
01-22-2007, 09:11 AM
Here's the issue for me: My exposure to theory has always been to theory, pure theory, unadulterated and unleavened with literature.
. . . and possibly taught by those who loved the Theory more than that which the Theory was designed to help us understand and love in new ways. Disciples can be rigidly tiresome, especially when they need tenure, and getting tenure depends upon hitching their wagon to the Next Big Thing.

Higgins
01-22-2007, 05:59 PM
Ya lost me on that one -- pardon me while I deconstruct it some . . .

As Medievalist has indicated, theory that gets wrapped up in itself (shooting self in foot to demostrate presence of foot) doesn't help much
in figuring out what is going on in texts and is painful to watch.

pdr
01-23-2007, 04:10 AM
I think better when 'talking' with people and this has been most helpful. It seems my reaction to PostMod as 'cut off', more elitist and exclusive than I feel poetry should be is not just old age and prejudice talking! But where is non-PostMod poetry hiding?

So why this trend for fashion in poetry?

And why has the theory of literature become divorced from literature itself?

Medievalist
01-23-2007, 08:53 AM
Critical theory hasn't really been divorced from literature itself, but, well, English departments and comparative literature departments, at the grad level, can be weird.

I know both Birol and MacAllister Stone have had very very different experiences with literature and theory than I've had.

Birol
01-23-2007, 08:57 AM
In all but one class, I've studied theory in relation to literature. The exception was a crash course on several different theories. It was a surface treatment and an introduction to different types of theories. Oh, wait. I take that back. The final paper was to apply one of the theories we studied to a work of literature, so even there, it was not divorced from literature. I guess I've just been lucky.

Higgins
01-23-2007, 08:52 PM
I think better when 'talking' with people and this has been most helpful. It seems my reaction to PostMod as 'cut off', more elitist and exclusive than I feel poetry should be is not just old age and prejudice talking! But where is non-PostMod poetry hiding?

So why this trend for fashion in poetry?

And why has the theory of literature become divorced from literature itself?

Theory that questions the very designation of things as "literature" has got to back off a bit from literature. I think the structuralist-to-Pomo drive over what people do with narratives has been much more constructive in the area of the sciences, where a little attention to what really happens in "method" is much more helpful than a lot of attention to literary objects where you're talking about what makes something worth attending to (attending to attention: the circularity gets nasty).

I haven't looked at any "post-modern" poetry...hasn't it really been post modern since T.S. Eloit cooked up a spurious explanation for why the Wasteland was such a mess? It was Weston's book on the grail legend he says, not Ezra Pound chopping the thing up over and over.

pdr
01-25-2007, 08:19 AM
isn't T.S. Elliot regarded as a Modern poet not a Post Modern one?

And please could you explain this?

I think the structuralist-to-Pomo drive over what people do with narratives has been much more constructive in the area of the sciences, where a little attention to what really happens in "method" is much more helpful...

How can Science be a narrative? How can you have a fashionable trend like the Post Modernists affect science? Isn't scientific method simply a way of looking at things and impervious (yes, impervious,) to fashionable trends in academia?

Higgins
01-25-2007, 06:03 PM
isn't T.S. Elliot regarded as a Modern poet not a Post Modern one?


He's regarded as modernist, but IMO modernism started with the Romantics and hasn't stopped. Post-modernism is only a minor variation
that imposes a little distance between accepting certain focal points of modernism (eg. author, perfected work) and substituting a more explicit articulation of what happens (process) for other assumptions.

So for example, if we look at what really happened when Eliot wrote the wasteland, Eliot's authorial explanations become just one more ploy and the reality of the collliding versions of the work as they were progressively savaged by Ezra Pound...becomes the narrative that tells more than the actually somewhat spurious "meaning" of the poem itself.

Higgins
01-25-2007, 06:13 PM
And please could you explain this?

I think the structuralist-to-Pomo drive over what people do with narratives has been much more constructive in the area of the sciences, where a little attention to what really happens in "method" is much more helpful...

How can Science be a narrative? How can you have a fashionable trend like the Post Modernists affect science? Isn't scientific method simply a way of looking at things and impervious (yes, impervious,) to fashionable trends in academia?

To give you a quick narrative: Positivism and Karl Popper have steadily lost all credibility since about 1950. History of Science has obviated the Philosophy of science because (paradoxically), out of all the modernist/structuralist/pomo give-and-take what has emerged most clearly is the priority of narratives in structuring how people understand things. No one active in the field of History of Science thinks there is such a thing as an impervious scientific method...so in that respect the POMO drive has proven extremely enlightening. It is one of the few fashionable trends in academia that has helped the sciences explain themselves.

Here's my bibliographic notes from another thread:

(see for example:

http://www.press.uchicago.edu/cgi-bi...i/00/15864.ctl (http://www.press.uchicago.edu/cgi-bin/hfs.cgi/00/15864.ctl)

and such things as:

http://www.press.uchicago.edu/cgi-bi...cgi/00/757.ctl (http://www.press.uchicago.edu/cgi-bin/hfs.cgi/00/757.ctl)

http://www.press.uchicago.edu/cgi-bi...i/00/13281.ctl (http://www.press.uchicago.edu/cgi-bin/hfs.cgi/00/13281.ctl)

And this (all about reading and secret identities):

http://www.press.uchicago.edu/cgi-bin/hfs.cgi/00/14098.ctl (http://www.press.uchicago.edu/cgi-bin/hfs.cgi/00/14098.ctl)
)

pdr
01-27-2007, 11:10 AM
And here was I thinking the worst scientists endured was trying to curb their lab backers from withholding funds, and from idiot politicians with political motives.

Why can't science research be like me hunting with my dogs? We want a deer (result) and I send them off with a 'go find it' (hunting the result.) They are entitled to go any way they like - and one loves water and does the water side the other likes steep slopes, they both like the bush - but they will in the end get me a result. My deer to pot for the freezer.

If poetry is a form of exploration, playing with words and ideas then how the hell did some fashionable twerps derail an art that so many people enjoyed, and turn it into something so inaccessible to the average poetry lover?
And would you extremely academic types chatting here please stand up and explain how you could allow the Emperor's New Clothes in poetry to be hailed as something worth while to poetry and give it academic credibility?

kdnxdr
01-27-2007, 06:15 PM
pdr,

I can empathisize with what you are saying. I, myself, have no formal education. I do write poetry, whether anyone likes it or not. I'm more like the 3 year old in my preschool classroom. My work is important to my development, however, what I produce is very juvenile as poetry goes.

Yes, I do work in free verse which many people have little interest in reading. And, I do realize that there are rules and formalities to the art of poetry. Alot of formal poetry, I have no interest in reading.

Poetry is a language smorgesbord and that's the beauty of poetry. Why read poetry rather than prose? It's the way the ideas and the language are presented; it's novelty, it's variant perspective and the feelings that are imbued within it's texture.

There are people who feel like you and have tastes like you and they are working within the rules and formalities of poetry to keep alive the very thing that you are talking about. I apologize that I can't refer you to any as I don't read them, probably to my fault.

Higgins
01-27-2007, 06:15 PM
And here was I thinking the worst scientists endured was trying to curb their lab backers from withholding funds, and from idiot politicians with political motives.

Why can't science research be like me hunting with my dogs? We want a deer (result) and I send them off with a 'go find it' (hunting the result.) They are entitled to go any way they like - and one loves water and does the water side the other likes steep slopes, they both like the bush - but they will in the end get me a result. My deer to pot for the freezer.

If poetry is a form of exploration, playing with words and ideas then how the hell did some fashionable twerps derail an art that so many people enjoyed, and turn it into something so inaccessible to the average poetry lover?
And would you extremely academic types chatting here please stand up and explain how you could allow the Emperor's New Clothes in poetry to be hailed as something worth while to poetry and give it academic credibility?

Your points are valid and perceptive and there are strands of academic thought in the current mix that would tend to "privilege" (as we like to say from time to time in POMO-talk) your view over other views. I was just looking at Steve Fuller's book on Kuhn

http://www.press.uchicago.edu/cgi-bin/hfs.cgi/00/13944.ctl

And I think it addresses some of the evils you perceive. Personnally, I think it would be nice if things were as simple as Fuller thinks they are (but I'm afraid they are not)...but not everybody enjoys a good twisted nuance embedded in a historical contrext as much as I do. Anyway, I'd say Fuller would agree with you for the most part.

robeiae
01-27-2007, 07:52 PM
The etymology of "dunce" is instructive...

Higgins
01-27-2007, 08:18 PM
The etymology of "dunce" is instructive...

Funneling knowledge of the Ideal Essences into particular spots?

robeiae
01-27-2007, 09:35 PM
Huh?






(See? I'm a dunsman)

Medievalist
01-27-2007, 09:38 PM
You're not looking at the right places if you can't find "traditional" contemporary metered poetry. There's lots of it out there, and again, I'm going to recommend looking for either the Oxford Book of Contemporary Poetry or the Norton Anthology of Contemporary Poetry. Norton, by the way, publishes a fair amount of quality contemporary poetry.

ColoradoGuy
01-28-2007, 01:32 AM
No one active in the field of History of Science thinks there is such a thing as an impervious scientific method...so in that respect the POMO drive has proven extremely enlightening. It is one of the few fashionable trends in academia that has helped the sciences explain themselves.
It is sort of a dirty secret that the Scientific Method doesn't really work itself out as is usually taught. I've walked both sides of the street, as a card-carrying scientitist and a historian of it. I agree with your point, but most scientists don't. Many are upset or even feel threatened by the notion. So in that sense PoMo analysis doesn't help explain how science works to most scientists, just to those who study how science works.

Higgins
01-28-2007, 02:47 AM
It is sort of a dirty secret that the Scientific Method doesn't really work itself out as is usually taught. I've walked both sides of the street, as a card-carrying scientitist and a historian of it. I agree with your point, but most scientists don't. Many are upset or even feel threatened by the notion. So in that sense PoMo analysis doesn't help explain how science works to most scientists, just to those who study how science works.

I'm no scientist but I work with them a lot. I was astounded to see some scientists at a conference on checking up on some old studies use POMO rhetoric to back up their approaches to the problems of reconstructing old studies. So...one lesson about scientists: they use whatever works (whatever that means). Of course these were scientists who were used to big institutional problems and situations....not shy scientists worried about the imperviousness of their methods.

kdnxdr
01-28-2007, 07:07 AM
I have a confession to make. I don't understand why you all are talking about scientists in a thread that is suppose to be about poetry. And, what the heck is POMO?

Okay...........now that I'm out, I feel much better.

Medievalist
01-28-2007, 07:16 AM
PoMo (http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m4339/is_n6_v16/ai_18069102/pg_2) is sort of a rude, or sometimes, affectionate way to refer to Post Modernism (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Postmodernism).

As a way of interpreting the world, a philosophy or collection, really, of philosophies, Post Modernism has been, and is, applied to all sorts of academic endeavor and subjects.

kdnxdr
01-28-2007, 07:22 AM
I'm still trying to make the poet/scientist leap. The info helps. Thank you.

LaceWing
01-28-2007, 12:27 PM
PoMo (http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m4339/is_n6_v16/ai_18069102/pg_2) is sort of a rude, or sometimes, affectionate way to refer to Post Modernism (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Postmodernism).

As a way of interpreting the world, a philosophy or collection, really, of philosophies, Post Modernism has been, and is, applied to all sorts of academic endeavor and subjects.


http://www.brocku.ca/english/courses/2F55/post-mod-attrib.html is another link to check out.

I think of po-mo as an enthusiastic outgrowth of existentialism.

LaceWing
01-28-2007, 12:35 PM
(moved to blog)

ColoradoGuy
02-08-2007, 06:18 AM
Stanley Fish famously conducted a little experiment with a class (described in his essay ďIs There a Text in this Class?Ē), in which he had written a list of names on the blackboard before class started. He then told the students it was a poem, and asked them to interpret it. This they proceeded to do, with some silly results.

Fishís conclusions (my emphasis added):

ďMy students did not proceed from the noting of distinguishing features to the recognition that they were confronted by a poem; rather, it was the act of recognition that came first--they [thought they] knew in advance that they were dealing with a poem and the distinguishing features then followed. It was almost as if they were following a recipe . . . indeed, definitions of poetry are recipes, for by directing readers as to what to look for in a poem, they instruct them in ways of looking that will produce what they expect to see. Skilled reading is usually thought to be a matter of discerning what is there, but if the example of my students can be generalized, it is a matter of knowing how to produce what can thereafter be said to be there. Interpretation is not the art of construing but the art of constructing. Interpreters do not decode poems; they make them.Ē

Higgins
02-08-2007, 08:29 AM
Stanley Fish famously conducted a little experiment with a class (described in his essay ďIs There a Text in this Class?Ē), in which he had written a list of names on the blackboard before class started. He then told the students it was a poem, and asked them to interpret it. This they proceeded to do, with some silly results.

Fishís conclusions (my emphasis added):

ďMy students did not proceed from the noting of distinguishing features to the recognition that they were confronted by a poem; rather, it was the act of recognition that came first--they [thought they] knew in advance that they were dealing with a poem and the distinguishing features then followed. It was almost as if they were following a recipe . . . indeed, definitions of poetry are recipes, for by directing readers as to what to look for in a poem, they instruct them in ways of looking that will produce what they expect to see. Skilled reading is usually thought to be a matter of discerning what is there, but if the example of my students can be generalized, it is a matter of knowing how to produce what can thereafter be said to be there. Interpretation is not the art of construing but the art of constructing. Interpreters do not decode poems; they make them.Ē

This is an elementry error: any cultural object is in a sense "made-up" when it is comprehended. Fish is just confusing being in a culture in general with whatever interpretive scheme he feels he needs. If he looked at everything else that was going on, he would not have so easily fooled himself about the nature of hermenuetics/interpretation. After all those non-textual texts that Fish put on the board were surrounded by lots of other encoded stuff: they were written in letters, in a classroom, on the board and their teacher told them it was a poem...all of that went to make up the background for the student's action in "making/interpreting" a "poem"...

So that really just means that the nature of interpretation is determined by lots of other factors, which you would think, Fish would be fully aware of....

How would Fish's students have done if some Homeric dude came in and recited hexameters at them in Homeric Greek? Definitely a poem, but not one they can deal with at all. Not much making to be done there...or maybe performance art trumps poetry when it comes to declaiming hexameters in an unknown tongue.

kdnxdr
02-08-2007, 09:18 AM
As an uneducated person, I believe that thought is basically a web process. When concepts are set relative to one another, and then metered by count, poetry is born. I also believe that what is called "free verse" is assumed to be countless, lacking a set meter, when in acutality, the poet sets the beat and just as an arrhythmic heart beat is irregular, it is still a heart beat.

When a poet constructs a poem, that is only one process in the poem's development. And, just as many have said, once a poem is released, the poem no longer belongs to the poet and is open for interpretation. That interpretation can then deconstruct the poem such that the elements of the poem act as a pictograph and it's parts as radicals. Poems are never one dimentional.

Upon deconstruction/interpretation the poem takes on a new flavor, just as a good wine goes through it's aging process. The originality is intact but the poem's composition inherits a bouquet that can only come by being handled by the public.

ColoradoGuy
02-21-2007, 08:05 PM
This from the most recent New York Review of Books. (http://www.nybooks.com/articles/article-preview?article_id=19924), by Charles Simic. The issue is whether or not poetic language is in some way special. From the article:
" . . . much of our poetry for the last hundred years has been a rejection of the idea that certain words are more poetic than others."

Describing most French poets of the past forty years:
"Preoccupied with the very act of writing, convinced that words only speak themselves and have no hold on reality, their [the poets'] anxieties had more to do with the theories of language then in fashion among literary critics in France, for whom the study of poetics was more fascinating than the finished poem"

In other words, how to kill poetry with Theory. It's a fascinating article.

ColoradoGuy
05-26-2007, 01:55 AM
Poetry is news
from the frontiers of consciousness.
I like that one. I'm not so sure about this one, though (speaking to aspiring poets):


Don't cater, don't pander, especially not to possible audiences, readers, editors or publishers
Yeah, but didn't he appear to do what his audience wanted and expected from time to time?

ColoradoGuy
08-23-2007, 09:30 AM
"A poet is someone for whom every word is not the end but the beginning of a thought; someone who, having uttered 'paradise' or 'next world,' must mentally take the subsequent step . . . ."

(Joseph Brodsky, quoted in a review in the August 3rd Times Literary Supplement.)

The review goes on: "The poet, for whom no word is gratuitous, consciously works with the continuities between the phonemic and semantic aspects of language. . . . to mark the risky line between uncontrolled utterance and poetry. . . ."

Neat. At least I think so.

P.H.Delarran
08-23-2007, 09:41 AM
Wow, that's some good thought for pondering. Well put.
I took a semantics class in high school that was way over my head at the time, and the teacher was too stoned to help (or so it seemed at the time ). But semantics has become an unidentified fascination to me in my urge to create poetry.

ColoradoGuy
08-23-2007, 09:02 PM
Wow, that's some good thought for pondering. Well put.
Well, that Brodsky guy was pretty smart. I met him once when he visited my college in 1973 right after he was expelled from the USSR and came to the US. He taught us to say "give me vodka" in Russian. The rest is foggy.

talkwrite
08-23-2007, 10:09 PM
Oh for the days when we had access to such people. It seems that they were so much more available in college. As chair of the Speakers Bureau, I got to host the author of Animal House who "lectured" right after the movie came out. We shared several Bloody Mary's after the show and he wrote a short story on the spot during dinner- I was his "transcriptionist". He was a contributing writer to Playboy, who published it and sent me an autographed copy. And the rest is also blurry. I can't get the local writers groups her to bring in anyone of that era. Must be too blurry for them.

kdnxdr
08-26-2007, 07:18 AM
words are dangerous, very, very dangerous, and can combust into ideas responsible for feelings that motivate humans into action

poetry, really articulation of all sorts, is closely monitored and managed

words alone are like little bombs that charge the atmosphere; it's when they are combined with intent that they become lethal

"the days", really for every era, were all about speaking words that became catalyst for change

like, a declaration of independence

Higgins
08-26-2007, 05:21 PM
words are dangerous, very, very dangerous, and can combust into ideas responsible for feelings that motivate humans into action

poetry, really articulation of all sorts, is closely monitored and managed

words alone are like little bombs that charge the atmosphere; it's when they are combined with intent that they become lethal

"the days", really for every era, were all about speaking words that became catalyst for change

like, a declaration of independence

I was talking (not by choice, but due to some minor aftershocks of a social disaster on the other side of my social world) to a bunch of proto-fascists yesterday. They were saying that in historical studies, we need to understand the motivation of people who participate in oppressive regimes....the NAZIS as ever being appparently the only oppressors who readily came to mind. I said "Great, Oppressor Studies! Remind me not to go to any of those classes. There's finally a name for the sort of history I don't want to know about."
They chortled....because they had me (in their minds) since if I didn't care about oppressors, I must care about victims....victims are of course, the new reprehensible class of human beings...those people we know all too well who get in the way of the march of the oppressors into historical obscurity. "Oh," they chortled, "so you want victim studies?" Which they later revealed was what they thought all "XYZ studies" were about (eg American Indian Studies, Women's Studies)...I said that no, I would start off victim studies as the study of poetry, the study of the rhetoric of being conscious of one's self as being run over by the march of history.
Naturally this rated a vicious laugh by those interested in "Oppressor Studies"...poor me, stuck with the victims and their sad words of longing.

robeiae
08-26-2007, 06:05 PM
From poetry to Gramsci in one fell swoop, eh?

http://www.amazon.com/Veiled-Sentiments-Poetry-Bedouin-Society/dp/0520224736

Higgins
08-26-2007, 07:03 PM
From poetry to Gramsci in one fell swoop, eh?

http://www.amazon.com/Veiled-Sentiments-Poetry-Bedouin-Society/dp/0520224736

No kidding.

Here's a para from a review of that book:

"That we Americans live in a social world that is bereft of normal meaningful human attachments and discourse. In comparison to the Awlad Ali tribe, we live in a world of greatly diminished humanity in which racism, acquisition of things, commodification and consumerization of those things, rationalizations and political spin, false piety, rationing of intangibles qualities, knee-jerk bipartisanism, sublimated hatred, and artistic shallowness, are substitutes for real meaning."

kdnxdr
08-27-2007, 06:35 AM
poetry is about declaring perspective,
taking a distinct position,
addressing a certain tension

Higgins
08-27-2007, 04:57 PM
poetry is about declaring perspective,
taking a distinct position,
addressing a certain tension

Yeah, but don't be a victim...there is too much of the intangible quality of victimhood around already.

kdnxdr
08-29-2007, 05:02 AM
Committment to an idea doesn't automatically qualify a person for victimhood.

Sometimes, what is perceived as losing is, in actuality, winning; and, vice versa.

Higgins
08-29-2007, 05:35 AM
Committment to an idea doesn't automatically qualify a person for victimhood.

Sometimes, what is perceived as losing is, in actuality, winning; and, vice versa.

Victimhood seems to be a "rationed intangible"...like 15 seconds of fame...so, you can do what you want, just don't let yourself get perceived as a victim because there doesn't seem to be enough victimhood left to go around.

ColoradoGuy
05-08-2008, 05:50 AM
I ran across this quip attributed to TS Eliot:

"Genuine poetry can communicate before it is understood."

I like it.

William Haskins
05-08-2008, 06:16 AM
another one of his good ones:

ďpoetry may make us from time to time a little more aware of the deeper, unnamed feelings which form the substratum of our being, to which we rarely penetrate; for our lives are mostly a constant evasion of ourselves.Ē

KTC
05-08-2008, 06:22 AM
Poetry is the continuance of self beyond the physical body.

ColoradoGuy
10-23-2008, 06:38 PM
I happened to run across this nugget from George Oppen, Pulitzer Prize winner for poetry in 1968: poetry is "a skill by which we can grasp the form of a perception achieved." I suppose he means that the poet already has the image (or feeling, or sensation) in his mind of what he wants to describe before he begins to play with the words to describe it.