16 jul. 2005

There is a particular kind of emotion, or tonality, that I associate with the writing of Heidegger--and yet another such particularized feeling I get from Wittgenstein. When I started that whole "poetry is a form of thinking" discussion last week, it didn't occur to me that a lot of people think of "thinking" as the opposite of something else called "feeling." Ideas are not inherently dissociated from emotions, for me. Maybe that's why I don't think of philosophy as dry or abstract--or separate from poetry. I don't do that whole head/heart split.

8 comentarios:

Thomas Basbøll dijo...

There seems to me to be a middle way here.

While I agree that thinking and feeling are not opposites, they are surely not identical either. That is, they are different, and their difference is telling. Heidegger and Wittgenstein definitely have heart, or emotional tone, and Eliot and Pound certainly had their heads screwed on right, that is, their work was conceptually tuned. But all we have to do is put Wittgenstein's "investigations" (including Phil. Inv., Zettel, and Phil. Grammar, On Certainty) next to Pound's "songs" (Cantos) in order to see a distinct difference in emphasis.

Keeping your head and heart together need not mean conflating them. Appreciating their distinct functions need not mean splitting them up.

Suppose someone said, "I don't do that eye/hand split."

Jonathan dijo...

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Good point, though I am not myself looking for a "middle way." I don't feel that difference between Wittgenstein and Pound in the same way you do. I certainly would never say Pound had his head screwed on right, though I'm sure that's not what you meant.

Thomas Basbøll dijo...

But there is some difference, isn't there? I mean the provisional grouping of Wittgenstein's work as "philosophy" and Pound's as "poetry" does have a basis? It will turn out that the cantos are full of philosophical moments and Wittgenstein's investigations are full of poetic ones. But is the one not, at the very least, half empty where the other is half full? Can we not talk of a text being more or less poetic, more or less philosophical?

Thomas Basbøll dijo...

+ more or less emotion, more or less conceptual?

Thomas Basbøll dijo...

I mean: more or less emotionAL, more or less conceptual?

Jonathan dijo...

Surely there is a difference between poetry and philosophy, yet I hate defining this difference as primarily a difference between differing quantities of the conceptual and the emotional. Maybe "Fear and Trembling" is more emotive than "Notes Toward a Supreme Fiction," for example. It's not a matter of poetic moments in Wittgenstein, but that Witt. is a poetic thinker from start to finish. A lot of poets would say that he is more influential than Pound--which is saying a lot.

Thomas Basbøll dijo...

It depends on what categories you fix and allow to serve as benchmarks. You are assuming that Fear and Trembling is more "philosophical" than Notes Toward a Supreme Fiction (which you are assuming will definitely count as poetry). But this begs the question. If F&T is more emotive than NTaSF (an interesting question to try to settle) then I would also say it is more poetic.

Certainly there are moments in Wittgenstein that are more poetic than in, say, Billy Collins (to pick on him again). But that's still due to the relative presence and intensity of the emotion in the text. When we compare this with the weight given to concepts in the Investigations, however, I think it's no contest. Wittgenstein is first and foremost a philosopher, not a poet.

It is also possible that Wittgenstein-influenced poetry (untempered by Pound) is less poetic than philosophical. I don't think that judgment would be entirely out of line.

Jonathan dijo...

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It's not that I disagree with what you're saying--more that I'm not that interested in this particular distinction. That is to say, I'm interested mainly in texts in which this distinction isn't so easy to make.

Remember: "Do not combine genres in the same envelope."