When we refer to the relation of poetry to 'culture'
we cannot define it with the precision of the textbook
language; we learn of such relations only by an
inference based on certain related experiences. I
know that a statement like the one that I made would
only lead to endless arguments, but then I still chose
to make it for whatever it is worth. Let me
substantiate it with a wonderful passage, but then as
I said, one needs to make a few 'inferences' than to
find a logical relation implied. Here it is:
"Our present consciousness cannot perceive that poetry
offers us life which is vital to the mind. There can
never be a finer life without the impact of poetry.
Poetry may not reach each mind, but its power to
enrich us is there in the Mind in the civilization.
We don’t judge a value like poetry or music or
philosophy by deciding whether or not the majority of
mind want it. On the other hand, we judge the value
by its being essential for the Mind. There is no
civilization without the Mind and the vice-versa. The
individual minds are related to the Mind and to the
civilization; they cannot survive without this
relation. Life is directed by the Mind, which is the
energy of intelligence, perception and thought within
a given civilization. Only in pre-civilization times
and in degenerate times after the advent of
civilization do minds act without the force of the
Mind acting on them. No doubt, the mind is
individual, but is a Mind? Where does it get its
power and intelligence? Surely it gets it from outside
it – well from the Mind from which life and energy for
perception, intelligence and thought can be drawn. An
individual mind, to achieve a finer life, has to go on
knowing more and more and feeling deeper and deeper by
receiving fresh energy every time from the Mind.
There is no Mind in any race which cannot boast of
great achievements, and the Mind, embodying great
achievements, is creative of intelligence and the
power to feel and think. By its generative principle,
the Mind transforms the individual minds. Poetry
belongs to the Mind, but commerce doesn’t. Science,
up to the end of the Nineteenth century, belonged to
The Mind, but not in this century. What belongs and
what doesn’t belong to the Mind is determined by
testing if it fosters a vital relation between the
Mind and the minds..."
--- Ken Armstrong <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> At 05:34 AM 5/14/2003 -0700, you wrote:
> >Dear Nancy,
> >I do agree that poetry cannot be limited by
> >'theories'; I may only like to add that poetry
> >be 'interpreted' by theories either.
> Well said, Vishvesh.
> >My reply was to that question if poetry was an aid
> >have an outlook towards life. It sounded like a
> >management concept to me and so I made that reply.
> >believe that poetry has its own context, its own
> >perspective and we only put too much of ourselves
> >distorting what it essentially is, when we look at
> >from so many related details, that have a kind of
> >historic interest alone. Poetry has been read as
> >cultural activity and that explains it for me.
> An enthusiastic amen to all of the above, sans
> the last sentence.
> "Cultural activity" is so large, what does it not
> refer to? Now, to ask
> that question is not to say that poetry is not a
> cultural activity, but I
> wonder whether, when we are asking what it is
> essentially, we should try to
> get beyond "it has its own context, its own
> perspective"? I.e. I don't
> think we can get beyond that, though we may try to
> find other ways to say
> it, and we may come to recognizing some of what
> poetry is and isn't along
> the way. While poetry must be a part of the culture
> from which it springs,
> I think it is in the nature of it to exceed that
> culture. The view in
> Eliot's poetry is a metaphysical/artistic one; which
> is not to say it is a
> systematic metaphysics; rather that is free of, or
> the way to freedom from,
> fixed and formulated views.
> Ken Armstrong
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