Statement of Philosophy

A site for exploration and discussion about verse, poetics, the aesthetic, and creative writing in general.

Because there is a profound difference between writing something to be read and writing something worth reading; and in that difference might beauty be found.



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Monday, May 25, 2015

"Cold Tea Blues" by The Cowboy Junkies

So, it has been six weeks since the last post, and it wasn't much of one. I intended to slow down but not this much. In part, the length of time lies in that I am trying put energies into other projects that refuse to take off. But in no small part I had simply stalled out, or had grown bored with the critical endeavor, if not wholly put off by the thought of looking through bad poetry – and most of the poetry out there right now is bad poetry – looking for something on which to write, good or bad. There is a point where I have had enough of yet another of Poppoetry Magazine's monthly offerings of yet-more-of-the-same (no matter how they try to convince me through gimmicked thematics it is not).

Indeed, I had stopped reading 'poetry' in the general sense altogether. What I have done is I have started rereading Finnegans Wake, this time coming at the text as I have wanted to, coupled with the endeavor to create an outline of the text's levels ideation. This includes a new drawer dedicated to the Wake in the Cabinet, which has taken some time. For sure, though, the Wake is poetic, poetry at its highest. And it has perhaps brought me back around to interest in talking about poetry on this blog. Though, I doubt posts here will increase in tempo all that much, especially during this period where a lot of my energies are going to establishing the groundwork for the Wake venture. Plus, there are those other so very obstinate projects . . . . .

 


 

from Pale Sun Crescent Moon (1993)

demonstration of poetic form

 

I am going to risk an over-simplification and say that there are three aspects to a literary object:

  1. the words on the page
  2. the meaning of the words on the page
  3. the sound of the words on the page

The reason I am risking the over-simplification is because those three are really aspects of one overarching aspect: form. None of the three are wholly independent of each other; they all speak to the form (or structure) of the work, if each from a different angle.

Before continuing with that idea, a couple of points of explication (if not correction) need to be made.

First: The use of the word meaning is problematic, because that word is generally associated with the nomic, with the prosaic, with language understood as a tool for the communication of information. This is why I generally prefer using the word "ideation," which is a broader term, one that can include nomic "meaning" without excluding symbolic language. It is not uncommon to see "idea" and "concept" distinguished in such a manner, where "concept" is relates to the rational, the factual, the hermeneutic approach to language as a means to communicate "concepts," and "idea" is the broader term, including not only theoretic language (concepts) and symbolic language but even broader, more abstract psychical experience (like the "idea" that is created by a rhyme scheme).

Second: there is also a similar issue with the use of the term structure, since that word is often used to designate particularly structures that have become established through convention. For example, examining the 'structure' of language would point to examining standard grammatical structures and variations therefrom (the discourse begins first upon established conventions and then moves out from that basis). As such, you will occasionally see the term structure set against the term form, where the former is used as just described, to label more concretized or mechanical organization, and the latter is used to address organization in the organic sense, where you start not at established convention but with the object-in-question as it defines itself. (Thus, mechanical structure and organic form. There might be a parallel there with the difference between anatomy and physiology: the former is a theoretic classification, the latter is a more organic understanding of the same object.) I will here try to follow my own general usage with form as the broader concept, which includes within itself the idea of mechanical structure. As Coleridge says, while the mechanical text (the text of Fancy) is not in itself poetic, the poetic text (the text of Imagination) nonetheless requires the use of mechanical thinking. I try to use structure when used, as in the analogy above, anatomically. (I admit up front, however, that maintain strict rigor with these is for me difficult at best.)