6 ene. 2006

On the other hand there's the Aristotelian idea of organic work that cannot be altered from start to finish. Didn't he see the episodic nature of Homer to be a flaw, in comparison with the unity of the Sophoclean tragedy?

What's interesting, then, is how our poetry and our drama doesn't seem to require this particular kind of Aristotelianism. I'm not knocking hypotactic forms of organization either. I'd be perfectly happy if my favorite writers did that instead once in a while. What is significant is how this is no longer felt necessary, that a huge number of poetic works judged successful or at least unignorable by many people--the best readers in fact--don't require this.

Other examples: The first section of Howl. The list of things that the best minds of my generation have done. Is there an Aristotelian order in this list? Would the poem be better if there were?

When I re-read The Crystal Text I skip around freely. As Thomas points out in comment to the post below, skipping around is our natural way of reading, once the text has been read through once.

I have a flaw in that I tend to skip around even when reading a novel for the first time. It's even worse when I've read it once, because I've done my duty and now can have my way with the text, reading it however I want to.

4 comentarios:

Henry Gould dijo...

I think this is a very interesting area...

one of the values of what you are calling aristotelian or organic form has to do with quantum vs. wave, or jumps vs. swerve.

an arpeggio in piano music tries to combine them.

I think we are entering an era when the old dichotomies of modernism will be shifted.

It seems to me that one of the true constants of art and poetics - in every era - is a sense of nature/instinct/intuition.

What I mean is, the artist has a feeling for improvisation & aesthetic holism - which leaches into a perception of human activities of all kinds. That is, you start to appreciate the instinctual, seemingly effortless qualities - the animal beauty - in thoughts & actions all around you.

Now to me, this is deeply connected with the kind of "organic" form which you are interrogating.

The sublime, ineluctable, overwhelming FLOW of a literary plot or passage - of whatever genre - depends on this "natural" genius for correspondence & correlation. So it's a very powerful model for literary form.

But I think the "aleatory" forms you are promoting are ALSO natural : but they exist in symbiosis & dialectical relation to the "aristotelian" forms.

Jonathan dijo...

The form of a Whitmanic list is also "organic," but can't be explained post hoc. In other words, we can't ask, why does this element have to precede this other element? We can ask, but it doesn't get us very far. That's the order of the list as it occurs to the speaker of the poem as he's talking.

Henry Gould dijo...

But if you do look closely at a Whitman list, you see that the list is folded in a fluid speech-rhythm. It's the fluidity balancing with the aleatory quality of the list items which actually creates W's "oceanic" vast feeling. It's the equilibrium between the two. & if you do investigate the rhetorical choices of what comes before/after what in the list - just as if you investigate the hidden ring-structure of Pound's Cantos - you discover a lot more "chaotic formality" than is evident at first.

I understand what you're implying in this (& in your following post) about the aesthetics of "cool" vs. "warm", offhand vs. sustained, & how often some dull critics simply can't appreciate - have no feel for - what some artists are doing.

Nevertheless I think there are examples of slack art in the "cool" or aleatory or whatever mode : and they are those which do not have any internal counterweight to the pure chance selection of words & phrases. In poetry it's oh so easy to find too many words to write down.

Thomas Basbøll dijo...

"the list is folded in a fluid speech-rhythm" (HG)

True. And also of "Howl". It's a poem I like to read out loud every so often. Some parts are, as it were, "hard to play", but I always enjoy that "eli eli lamma lamma sabacthani saxophone cry that shivered the cities down to the last radio". It always works or does not work in proportion to how effectively I managed to establish that fluid speech-rhythm HG is talking about.