[lit-ideas] Geary's Poetics

  • From: Jlsperanza@xxxxxxx
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Sun, 19 Jun 2011 14:18:49 EDT


In a message dated 6/19/2011 1:51:42 P.M.,  jejunejesuit.geary2@xxxxxxxxx 
provides his way to poetry. I will comment,  etc.:

>I'd rather read a good short story than a good novel.
 
Note his reader-oriented outlook. Cfr. my writer-oriented outlook. As a  
Griceian, I place myself in the role of the utterer. 
 
The novelist who says:
 
"I'd rather write a good novel than a good short story."
 
-----
In other words: one reads a novel because one thinks that the novelist  
intended to write a novel (not a short story). Similarly, one reads a short  
story (e.g. Borges's, my favourite), because one thinks that the writer 
intended  to write a short story, rather than a novel. And so on.
 
---- People should be more conscious of the mind-set of the _utterer_. Cfr. 
 "I rather see a play". (i.e. the work of someone who I think intended to 
_write_  a play, rather than a novel or a short story).
 
>I'd rather read a good poem than a good short story. 
 
Variants on a theme by Geary:
 
"I'd rather read a good poem than a bad one."
 
-----
 
>It could be that I'm just lazy (I am), or it could be that the more  
concentrated the experience, the more >intense the experience.   

This is possibly true. Opera, e.g. started as poems set to music.  
Rinuccini, etc. "Dafne", the first opera ever, was a setting (a rather dull 
one)  of 
a short poem specifying the death of "Dafne", a Greek girl -- Her name 
means  'laurel' in Greek. A second opera, I've read the libretto, was called 
"The chain  of Adonis". It is a LOOONG poem. The experience is NOT 
concentrated, as it were.  Oddly, Auden, who wrote concentrated, intensive 
poems, wrote 
pretty poor  libretti. One wonders why. (His "Funeral blues" was originally 
part of a 'play'  with Isherwood -- to analyse).
 
>Poetry is not everyone's cup of tea.  
 
This reminds me of my favourite metaphor:
 
Poetry is my cup of tea.
 
---- Or rather, to echo Geary,
 
Metaphorisation is my cup of tea.
 
---- or _her_ cup of tea, if you want to distance your prosaic self.
 
---
 
 
>Those I know who don't like poetry usually say things like: "why  doesn't 
he just say what he means?"  Good question if poetry were about  meaning.  
Or maybe I should say "totally about meaning."  
 
----- The author to read here is Owen Barfield. He did think that poetry  
was about _meaning_. He was wrong. "Totally about meaning" should be  
distinguished from "about _total_ meaning". 
 
>When I think back to my high school exposure to poetry I remember Frost  
(Hired Hand, Mending Wall, >Stopping By The Woods On a Snowy Evening), some  
easy sonnets by Elizabeth Barret Browning and >Shakespeare.  
 
Oddly, a person's earliest exposures to poetry predate high-school. They  
belong in the nursery. "Nursery rhyme" they are called. In America, a nursery 
is  a place where, also, they sell trees, etc.
 
-----
 
Oddly, most nursery rhymes in England had a tricky historical story about  
them -- political: innuendo, cryptic references to political leaders and  
corruption. It may seem that the _meaning_ of the 'nurse' was different from 
the  meaning that the 'nurse' intended the nursee to catch. Or something.
 
----
 
It's also odd that the people who have collected nursery rhymes (e.g. the  
Opies) were grown-ups. 
 
-----
 
>Mostly good old home grown thoughts and emotions within a rhyme  scheme.  
College brought the study of poetry as canonized period  pieces.  But the 
period that interested at the time was my own 
 
 
---- One wonders if the period that interested the _instructor_ was not his 
 own, either. It seems that _period_ is overused. But it is a general trait 
of  academia that earlier _periods_ are favoured ("My PhD dissertation was 
on the  Boccaccio influence on Chaucer's metaphorisations" -- or the 
"influence of T. S.  Eliot on Shakespeare" -- Bradbury). Something similar 
happens, 
fortunately,  nowadays with opera. In the days of Puccini, one went to see 
a new opera  composed by Puccini. Today, it's still the operas by Puccini we 
go to see. Opera  is Period Opera.
 
----
 
 
>-- it was the Beats -- the wild men who had grabbed the labels of the  
culture and  were shaking it:  "Listen to me, listen to me."  But  most of 
their poetry was just evangelizing an unarticulated alternative  culture.  
Still, it was fun.  
 
This refers to the California (San Francisco) school. A beatle himself,  
John Lennon, had a few rhymes -- "A spaniard in the works", "in his own 
write".  But his influence was Celtic, rather than academic.
 
---
 
 
>Then I discovered the "sensitive poets" -- Merwin, Bly, Hall, Hect,  
Bishop, Galway Kinnell, Levertov, Plath, Wright --  to name a few that come  
immediately to mind. 
 
To _his_ mind, he means. Name dropping at his best! Oddly, I liked the film 
 on Plath with Paltrow. It is very funny and appropriate that Plath's 
mother (in  the film) is played by Paltrow's mother (in real life). I also 
liked 
Craig  playing Hughes, to name a few.
 
---- (Molina played Alvarez).
 
>And so many unclassifiables:  Cummings, Roethke, Snyder, Stafford,  Koch.  
 
------ I think Krueger was mentioning some of these. Strictly, it is  
cummings. A good research of unclassifiables, in England, was made by  
Kingston-born poet, Edward Lucie-Smith. His "British Poetry since 1945" is  
pretty 
good. He is a master of classifying the allegedly unclassifiables (cfr.  Borges 
on taxonomy -- as cited by Foucault).
 
>All are rich veins of versification.  But I never took to  Ashbery.  Never 
understood how he was using words, but I persisted.   At first he seemed as 
disconnected as Ritchie's Gardening Guy.  Where's the  poetic language in  
his poetry?  He seems to write prose  sentences.    
 
---------
 
The idea of _poetic language_ is worth examining. Poetic _register_, I  
prefer. If poets were using their own language, there wouldn't be such a thing  
as "English poetry", or "Urdu poetry".
 
------
 
>Where the emotional nexus?  He seems have no center.  
 
He seems dropping "to".
 
----
 
>Then it began to dawn on me that he uses everyday language as the most  
poetic of poetic language, and that the nexus is the whole of the poem.  
 
This to be analysed as two claims:
 
--- Poet P, in uttering poem P, is using 'everyday language' (or "ordinary  
language" as Grice prefers -- "Sundays don't count" --) as 'the most poetic 
 language' -- i.e. Language P is most poetic iff there is no other language 
which  is more poetic than P, for the poet P'.
 
---- the nexus bit.
 
 
>Most of the poems reflect he helter-skelter of our experience of the  
world and our wanting, needing, crying out for a nexus to our lives.  All  of 
us 
[are] as lost as he is and read that way I find him very powerful.   I'm 
reading Jorie Graham now.  Love her.  A genius at metaphorization  -- is that 
a word?  It is now.

----- As Borges said, "all words were once neologisms."
 
----
 

>Mike Geary
>not giving a damn what you think you know, I know  better
>in Memphis
 
And so on. Perhaps rather than 'ordinary language' Grice was opposing  
Wittgenstein's view that 'poetry' is "language gone on holidays". Grice's  
favourite poems were by William Blake:
 
"love that never told can be" -- 'What a gem of an implicature via intended 
 ambiguity'
 
and 
 
John Donne, "the imagined four corners of the world" -- 'intelligible via  
its alleged unintelligibility'.
 
And so on.
 
Cheers,
 
Speranza
 
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