Diana Manister wrote:
> Peter, would a poem that engages the reader's emotions not qualify as
> hot in the McLuhan cosmology?
Leaving aside McLuhan, I don't know of any poem, good or bad, that
doesn't "engage the emotions" -- or any prose passage for that matter
-- so I don't understand your point.
For example, the following prose has in fact engaged the emotions of
several people on the lbo-talk list:
All of this is a restatement of Epimenides paradox: 'A Cretan says "The
Cretans; always liars".'
Russell's attempted solution to this paradox was called the theory of
logical types. The idea was that a set of things, was of a different
"logical type" than a set of sets, and therefore we are talking about
two different classes of entities when we speak of sets of sets and sets
of everything that is not a teacup.
Bateson point was that in "psychological" situations this form of
logical typing does not take place and cannot take place. The double
bind of the paradox is "interiorised" (for lack of another word) and the
person lives within the frame of the paradox without recognizing the
(All statements within this parenthesis are true.
I love you.
I hate you.
You must obey and honor me.
You must use your own free will.)
The first statement in the parenthesis is of a different class than the
following statements. Bateson's point though was that most of the times
all of these statements are implied in a lived situation and thus the
double bind is not recognized. Bateson believed that there were
communication paradoxes, because of the several different levels of
communication, that could not be recognized by those in "submissive" and
(somehow) inescapable situations, because they could not be thought
logically, in the way that a logical paradox could be recognized. In
other words these paradoxes are lived and not "thought" and thus are
It is hard, in fact, to think of anything that does not engage the
emotions. For example, the quoted phrase above, "Russell's attempted
solution to" is not an exact quote, since the original was "Russell's
attempted to solution to." That extra "to" engaged my emotions so
powerfully that I just had to correct it.
But Russell's paradox, which I first encountered 61 years ago,
powerfully engages for me the emotion of delight, as it has every time
I've encountered it in a different context over those 61 years. I would
say the words expressing it are definitely affective.
Or here are some very simple words that powerfully engaged people's
emotions 40 years ago (they were a joke within the anti-war movement):
How can you tell when Johnson is lying?
His lips are moving.
One way around these confusions is to focus on particlar poems rather
than proliferate adjectives intended to sum up Eliot's whole career and
personality. Most such propositions about _any_ poet tend to either be
empty or trivially tautological.