Poetics and Poetry Discussion

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  • Rookie Joseph Daly (11/23/2005 7:42:00 AM) Post reply
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    Aesthetics is the philosophy of beauty and art.

    Thinkers and sages have pondered beauty and art all over the world for millenia, but the subject was formally distinguished as an independent philosophical discipline in the 18th Century by German philosophers. Before this period authors viewed the study as inseparable from other main topics, such as ethics in the Western tradition and religion in the Eastern.
    The word in English was not widely used until the beginning of the 19th Century. Its use comes from the German ästhetisch or French esthétique, (both from the Greek a? s? ? t? ? ? meaning a perceiver or sensitive) and mainly facilitated translations of Immanuel Kant. It meant “the science which treats of the conditions of sensuous perception”. Elsewhere the philosopher Alexander Gottlieb Baumgarten had taken it in German to mean “criticism of taste”. Despite Kant’s efforts to correct Baumgarten, this definition survived and Baumgarten is credited with inventing the modern use of the term. Thus, aesthetics is also an important part of critical theory.

    The meaning of aesthetic as an adjective may be illuminated by comparing it to anaesthetic, which is by construction an antonym. If something is anaesthetic, it tends to dull the senses or cause sleepiness. In contrast aesthetic may be thought of as anything that tends to stimulate or enliven the senses.

    It is also a popularly used noun meaning “that which appeals to the senses”. In this sense, for example, the aesthetics of mathematics would refer to those things in mathematics which appeal to the senses, and not necessarily a body of philosophical principles on the subject.

    Encompassing poetry, short stories, novels and non-fiction, authors use a variety of techniques to appeal to our aesthetic values. Depending on the type of writing an author may employ rhythm, illustrations, structure, time shifting, juxtaposition, dualism, imagery, fantasy, suspense, analysis, humor/cynicism, and thinking aloud.

    In literary aesthetics, the study of affect creates an awareness of the deep structures of reading and receiving literary works. Affect refers to the emotional sense created in the reader or receiver of a literary work. These affects may be broadly grouped by their mode of writing, and relationship the reader assumes with time. Catharsis is the affect of dramatic completion of action in time. Kairosis is the affect of novels whose characters become integrated in time. Kenosis is the affect of lyric poetry which creates a sense of emptiness and timelessness.

    (From Wikipedia)

    A combination of a few events plus the criticism I received for my piece on our comments, made me think about aesthetics. In one sense I feel that there is a lot in art that has an immediate, sometimes inexplicable, attraction for us as individuals. Mary Nagy’s comments, amongst others, on pieces, gave me pause for thought.

    A piece written by Poetry Hound on the Forum, a while back, on the poem/song ‘Strange Fruit’ also had me thinking about what it is that attracts us to certain pieces. It doesn’t necessarily mean that we find beauty in a piece, it may touch us because it is funny, angry, sad, whatever. But it appeals to us in a subjective manner and elicits a response. One piece that spring to my mind is the text to Arnold Shoenbergs ‘A Survivor from Warsaw’ based on accounts that he elicited from Jewish refugees whilst living in the US. Although one could class this as prose its immediate appeal to me is one of anger, yet I am not Jewish, have never experienced the barbarity of the Holocaust, so there is no empathy. Yet this piece (especially with the music he composed to it - but even the stark words) has a powerful effect on me. This is the text with English translations:


    I cannot remember everything. I must have been unconscious most of the time. I remember only the grandiose moment when they all started to sing, as if prearranged, the old prayer they had neglected for so many years-the forgotten creed!

    But I have no recollection how I got underground to live in the sewers of Warsaw for so long a time.

    The day began as usual: reveille when it was still dark. Get out! Whether you slept or whether worries kept you awake the whole night. You had been separated from your children, from your wife, from your parents, you don’t know what happened to them....How could you sleep?

    The trumpets again. “Get out! The sergeant will be furious! ” They came out; some very slow: the old ones, the sick ones, some with nervous agility. They fear the sergeant. They hurry as much as they can. In vain! Much too much noise, much too much commotion! And not fast enough!

    The Feldwebel shouts:
    “Achtung! Stilljestanden! Na wird’s mal? Oder soll ich mit dem Jewehrkolben nachhelfen? Na jutt; when ihr’s durchaus haben wollt! ”
    [Attention! Stand still! Or should I help you with the butt of my gun? Well, if that’s how you want it! ]

    The sergeant and his subordinates hit everybody: young or old, quiet or nervous, guilty or innocent....It was painful to hear them groaning and moaning. I heard it though I had been hit very hard, so hard that I could not help falling down. We all on the ground who could not stand up were then beaten over the head.

    I must have been unconscious. The next thing I knew was a soldier saying, “They are all dead.” Whereupon the sergeant ordered to do away with us. There I lay aside, half-conscious. It had become very still-fear and pain.

    Then I heard the sergeant shouting:
    “Abzählen! ”

    [Count off! ]

    They started slowly, and irregularly: one, two, three, four- “Achtung! ” The sergeant shouted again:
    “Rascher! Nochmal von vorn anfangen! In einer Minute will ich wissen wieviele ich zur Gaskammer abliefere! Abzählen! ”

    [Faster! Once more from the beginning! In a minute I want to know how many I’m going to deliver to the gas chamber! Count off! ]

    They began again, first slowly: one, two, three, four-became faster and faster; so fast that it finally sounded like a stampede of wild horses, and all of a sudden, in the middle of it, they began singing the Shema Yisroel!

    Shema Yisroel Adonoy eloheynu, Adonoy ehod...

    [Hear, Israel: the Lord our God is one Lord, and you should love the Lord, your God, with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words, which I command you today, shall be in all your heart; and you shall teach them diligently to your children and talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk along your way, when you lie down and when you rise.]

    Yet there is another piece which I find, illustrates the beauty that can exists. I was reminded of it whilst I had the Beatles’ ‘Abbey Road’ playing. Never noted for crediting others they lifted a lot of the words to ‘Golden Slumber’ from a poem by the Jacobean playwright Thomas Dekker. It was a piece I came across by accident in my youth and I still love it. Dekker is a bit obscure and his plays (the few that I have come across) leave a lot to be desired. But this piece, entitled ‘Golden Slumbers kiss your eyes’, I feel is so beautiful. I don’t know whether it is addressed to his wife, his mistress, a prostitute or even his children, it has such a lovely feel to it. I hope you agree.

    Golden slumbers kiss your eyes,
    Smiles awake you when you rise;
    Sleep, pretty wantons, do not cry,
    And I will sing a lullaby,
    Rock them, rock them, lullaby.
    Care is heavy, therefore sleep you,
    You are care, and care must keep you;
    Sleep, pretty wantons, do not cry,
    And I will sing a lullaby,
    Rock them, rock them, lullaby

  • Rookie Michael Shepherd (11/23/2005 4:50:00 AM) Post reply | Read 1 reply

    This discussion suggested to me to compare the teaching of writing with that of the visual arts. Britain used to be uniquely endowed with art schools - something like 80 compared with only a few in much larger European countries. So the syllabus was both well established and individually applied. The students would be taught all the basic skills in their first year or half-year and virtually nothing but; then made to copy worthwhile examples to apply these basic skills (out of fashion now though): introduced to the best of the 'old' and have it explained to them why those artists worked as they did in the context of their times; then as they developed, were allowed to find their own path. And on the side, they had a vigorous programme (in the better schools) of lectures from famous artists, writers on the contemporary scene, and authorities on all the current interests of the world of thought.
    In practice, their final work tended to be, as art became more generally 'fashionable', either a copy of their contemporary heroes - which tended to be disastrous in appearance, though it may have taught them something; copies of past styles -just very occasionally they brought new life to these styles and it was terrific; and those who produced original work, having absorbed all this input and found something which was of its time, relevant, new, fresh and interesting. In the 1960s particularly, this training produced instead, a number of rock and pop musicians!
    I guess that would make a good basis for a school or department of writing too? Does it happen?

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    • Rookie Poetry Hound (11/23/2005 8:35:00 AM) Post reply | Read 1 reply

      My sense is that art schools still operate pretty much the same way - focusing on skills initially and then assigning students to copy various styles from the past and present. I still frequently see ... more

  • Rookie Linda Jenkinson (11/22/2005 5:28:00 PM) Post reply | Read 1 reply

    I ask because I'm interested...movers and shakers...I'm a plagiarist...the old question of favourite poet...mine changes every few decades...

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    • Rookie Mary Nagy (11/23/2005 5:50:00 AM) Post reply

      Emily Dickinson.................will always be my all time favorite.

  • Rookie Herbert Nehrlich1 (11/22/2005 3:46:00 PM) Post reply | Read 3 replies

    In answer to the questions of a few concerning the content of my poem 'Obesity':
    My definition of obesity (66 % of Americans are now classified as obese) :
    Obesity is the result of the body's desperate search for essential nutrients.
    Best wishes

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  • Rookie Rev. Dr. A. Jacob Hassler (11/22/2005 1:20:00 PM) Post reply | Read 4 replies

    anybody here seen my old friend John?
    can you tell me where he's gone?
    he freed a lotta people but it seems the good they die young
    i just looked around and he's gone

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    • Rookie Ben Cassel (11/22/2005 5:14:00 PM) Post reply

      It's 'Abraham, Martin and John', written by Dick Holler. Dion (!) had a hit with it in 1969, when the final verse was still fresh: 'Anybody here seen my old friend Bobby/Can you tell me where he's g ... more

    • Rookie Rev. Dr. A. Jacob Hassler (11/22/2005 3:37:00 PM) Post reply

      oh, i can't claim credit to this. it's a lyric from a poem/song written by? ? ? ? and performed most famously by Dion DiMucci in 1968. and performed most infamously by Leonard Nimoy later that same ... more

    • Rookie Michael Shepherd (11/22/2005 3:27:00 PM) Post reply

      Knock out the 'but it' and it's a lyric begging for music and posterity

    • Rookie Michael Shepherd (11/22/2005 3:22:00 PM) Post reply

      O no, who knows where he's gone?

  • Rookie Marcy Jarvis (11/22/2005 12:22:00 PM) Post reply | Read 3 replies

    Look at this adorable poem by ten year old Hilda Conkling! It's called 'Dandelion'

    O LITTLE soldier with the golden helmet,
    What are you guarding on my lawn?
    You with your green gun
    And your yellow beard,
    Why do you stand so stiff?
    There is only the grass to fight!

    Her mother used to write everything that came out of her mouth down and then Amy Lowell found her a publisher and wrote an introduction to her first collection when she was only 10! Some people! ! ! ! !

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  • Rookie Billy Midget (11/22/2005 12:07:00 PM) Post reply | Read 4 replies


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  • Rookie - 7 Points Max Reif (11/22/2005 9:53:00 AM) Post reply | Read 6 replies

    we're preparing to go to LA for the holidays, if I don't post for awhile, it's not that the cat's got my tongue (which means what, by the way?)

    Last year, day after Thanksgiving, we went for a ride, to Laguna Beach, in Orange County. My mother, looking at the big homes perched atop high, ocean-view cliffs, said, 'What are those houses doing up there? They're going to fall down! ' Condescendingly, I patted Mother and said, 'There, there, this is California (she'd come in from Missouri) . The engineers & architects know what they're doing! '
    Sure enough, a few months later, big newspaper headlines: those very homes DID fall down.
    Always listen to your mother!

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  • Rookie Marcy Jarvis (11/22/2005 9:52:00 AM) Post reply | Read 1 reply

    The Rhemasonador is doing some of Max's poems over at acidplanet.com They are well worth taking a listen too. That Gutenburg Bible one gave me chills! I am always flabberghasted to 'hear' something read aloud well. Especially maybe since I live in a silent world of being isolated from my language - maybe it strikes me more. I know that 'listening' to people 'talk' by reading them on the internet when I fist encountered that after living in a small German village for three years had an unusual effect on me, to say the least.

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  • Rookie Rev. Dr. A. Jacob Hassler (11/22/2005 7:27:00 AM) Post reply

    whilst out searching for info on Lewis Carroll's 'Jabberwocky', i found this website which includes some rather clever parodies of Carroll's nonsensical masterpiece.

    http: //www76.pair.com/keithlim/jabberwocky/

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