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TSE  July 2005

TSE July 2005

Subject:

Re: Meaning, shoes, ships and sealing wax. was: Re: TWL query on the king my brother

From:

Peter Montgomery <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

T. S. Eliot Discussion forum.

Date:

Sat, 16 Jul 2005 19:27:23 -0700

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (467 lines)

And it is one to which many academics are either blind
or from which they choose to hide the heads in the sand.

This whole discussion is starting to look like a ball of
snakes trying to mate.

How Marvellous.
Peter

Vishvesh Obla wrote:

>'The fact that they tend not to be stood up to  and 
>challenged
>by their colleagues causes me to have very serious
>scepticism about
>academia in general. Its value deserves serious
>questioning by society.'
>
>Peter,
>
>I second you.  It is an infection, as it seems to me,
>causing a serious damage in the intellectual
>conditions supposed to be generated by the academia.
>
>
>--- Peter Montgomery <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>
>  
>
>>Every idea is a red herring.
>>
>>If a student came to me with an apparently absurdly
>>unjustifiable 
>>interpretation,
>>rather than generating a negative learning response,
>>I would investigate 
>>what
>>occasioned that response by the student, and do my
>>best to turn it into 
>>a positive learning occcasion, or adjust my own view
>>if the student's 
>>response turned
>>out to have justification. In effect NO response to
>>a poem is wrong.
>>
>>Who was it who said something like
>>A poem must not mean but BE.
>>
>>I agree that it is absurd to make students agree
>>with one's own opinion,
>>but in fact that absurdity is perpetrated ALL the
>>time by many in power
>> in academia. The fact that they tend not to be
>>stood up to  and challenged
>>by their colleagues causes me to have very serious
>>scepticism about
>>academia in general. Its value deserves serious
>>questioning by society.
>>
>>Peter
>>
>>
>>
>>Nancy Gish wrote:
>>
>>    
>>
>>>This is an absurd red herring.  The issue is not a
>>>      
>>>
>>simple dichotomy of
>>    
>>
>>>all or nothing.  The fact that a poem may mean many
>>>      
>>>
>>things and diverse
>>    
>>
>>>things does not mean that it can mean anything. 
>>>      
>>>
>>Otherwise there is no
>>    
>>
>>>reason for it at all.  
>>>
>>>In any reading there are several elements (I am
>>>      
>>>
>>drawing on other
>>    
>>
>>>scholars; this is not my formulation): the text,
>>>      
>>>
>>the reader, the
>>    
>>
>>>"author" (whoever made the marks on the page or the
>>>      
>>>
>>notes or the paint
>>    
>>
>>>or whatever), and whatever the "author" meant to
>>>      
>>>
>>refer it to.  To
>>    
>>
>>>eliminate any of these is to distort reading.  If a
>>>      
>>>
>>poem has nothing
>>    
>>
>>>whatever to do with the words that comprise it,
>>>      
>>>
>>there is no reason to
>>    
>>
>>>make those black marks on white pages.
>>>
>>>It is nothing so silly or naive as requiring
>>>      
>>>
>>students to agree with
>>    
>>
>>>whatever the professor thinks:  saying that is just
>>>      
>>>
>>a way of shifting
>>    
>>
>>>the discussion away from any serious idea.  It is
>>>      
>>>
>>about the nature of
>>    
>>
>>>texts at all.
>>>
>>>Nancy
>>>
>>> 
>>>
>>>      
>>>
>>>>>>[log in to unmask] 07/15/05 4:52 AM >>>
>>>>>>       
>>>>>>
>>>>>>            
>>>>>>
>>>Nancy Gish wrote:
>>>
>>> 
>>>
>>>      
>>>
>>>>I don't know where it comes from, but my students
>>>>        
>>>>
>>seem to start out
>>    
>>
>>>>   
>>>>
>>>>        
>>>>
>>>with this idea, that a poem (unlike anything else,
>>>      
>>>
>>apparently), is
>>    
>>
>>>"about" whatever one thinks it is.  I point out
>>>      
>>>
>>that if you think TWL is
>>    
>>
>>>about the joys of rural life in a pastoral
>>>      
>>>
>>landscape with cows and shows
>>    
>>
>>>that nature will teach you about god, you are, in
>>>      
>>>
>>fact, just wrong.
>>    
>>
>>> 
>>>
>>>      
>>>
>>>>The words on the page are also involved in what a
>>>>        
>>>>
>>poem is about; they
>>    
>>
>>>>   
>>>>
>>>>        
>>>>
>>>are not just a point of departure for anything on
>>>      
>>>
>>one's mind
>>    
>>
>>> 
>>>
>>>Why not (except in an advanced English lit class,
>>>      
>>>
>>of course,
>>    
>>
>>>where one is in a state of potential existential
>>>      
>>>
>>crisis if one
>>    
>>
>>>disagrees with the "teacher" and expresses it)?
>>>
>>>      
>>>
>>------------------------------------------------------------------------
>>    
>>
>>>Eliot, T.S. "The Music of Poetry." ON POETRY AND
>>>      
>>>
>>POETS. NY:Noonday,1961.
>>    
>>
>>>        (originally Faber, 1947).
>>>
>>>...  when  I  learn  that a difficult sonnet was
>>>      
>>>
>>inspired by seeing a
>>    
>>
>>>painting on the  ceiling  reflected  on  the
>>>      
>>>
>>polished top of a table, or
>>    
>>
>>>by seeing the light  reflected from  the  foam on a
>>>      
>>>
>>glass of beer, I can
>>    
>>
>>>only say that this may  be  a  correct  embryology,
>>>      
>>>
>>but it is not the
>>    
>>
>>>meaning. If we are moved by  a  poem, it has meant
>>>      
>>>
>>something, perhaps
>>    
>>
>>>something important, to us; if we are not moved, 
>>>      
>>>
>>then it is, as poetry,
>>    
>>
>>>meaningless. We can be deeply stirred by  hearing 
>>>      
>>>
>>the recitation of a
>>    
>>
>>>poem in a language of which we understand no word; 
>>>      
>>>
>>but  if we are then
>>    
>>
>>>told that the poem is gibberish and has no meaning,
>>>      
>>>
>>we  shall  consider
>>    
>>
>>>that we have been deluded -- this was no poem, it
>>>      
>>>
>>was merely  an
>>    
>>
>>>imitation  of instrumental music. If, as we are
>>>      
>>>
>>aware, only a part of
>>    
>>
>>>the
>>>meaning  can  be  conveyed  by paraphrase,  that is
>>>      
>>>
>>because the poet is
>>    
>>
>>>occupied  with  frontiers  of  consciousness 
>>>      
>>>
>>beyond  which words fail,
>>    
>>
>>>though meanings  still  exist.  A  poem  may 
>>>      
>>>
>>appear to mean very
>>    
>>
>>>different things to different readers, and  all of
>>>      
>>>
>>these meanings may be
>>    
>>
>>>different from what the author  thought  he meant.
>>>      
>>>
>>For instance, the
>>    
>>
>>>author may have been writing some peculiar personal
>>>      
>>>
>> experience,  which
>>    
>>
>>>he  saw  quite  unrelated  to anything outside; yet
>>>      
>>>
>> for  the reader the
>>    
>>
>>>poem may become the expression of a general 
>>>      
>>>
>>situation,  as  well as
>>    
>>
>>>of some private experience of his own. The reader's
>>>      
>>>
>>interpretation  may
>>    
>>
>>>differ from the author's and be equally valid -- it
>>>      
>>>
>>may even be better.
>>    
>>
>>>There may be much more in a poem than the author
>>>      
>>>
>>was aware  of.  The
>>    
>>
>>>different interpretations may all be partial
>>>      
>>>
>>formulations of one thing;
>>    
>>
>>>the  ambiguities  may be due to the fact that the
>>>      
>>>
>>poem means more, not
>>    
>>
>>>less,  than  ordinary  speech  can  communicate. 
>>>      
>>>
>>So, while poetry
>>    
>>
>>>attempts to convey  something  beyond  what can be
>>>      
>>>
>>conveyed in prose
>>    
>>
>>>rhythms, it remains, all  the  same, one person
>>>      
>>>
>>talking to another; and
>>    
>>
>>>this is just as true if you sing  it,  for  singing
>>>      
>>>
>> is another way of
>>    
>>
>>>talking. The immediacy of poetry to conversation 
>>>      
>>>
>>is  not a matter on
>>    
>>
>>>which we can lay down exact laws. Every revolution
>>>      
>>>
>>in poetry is apt to
>>    
>>
>>>be, and sometimes to announce itself to be, a
>>>      
>>>
>>return to common speech.
>>    
>>
>>>(23)
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>> 
>>>
>>>      
>>>
>>-- 
>>No virus found in this outgoing message.
>>Checked by AVG Anti-Virus.
>>Version: 7.0.323 / Virus Database: 267.8.14/48 -
>>Release Date: 7/13/2005
>>
>>    
>>
>
>
>__________________________________________________
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>
>
>  
>


-- 
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