LISTSERV mailing list manager LISTSERV 16.0

Help for TSE Archives


TSE Archives

TSE Archives


TSE@PO.MISSOURI.EDU


View:

Message:

[

First

|

Previous

|

Next

|

Last

]

By Topic:

[

First

|

Previous

|

Next

|

Last

]

By Author:

[

First

|

Previous

|

Next

|

Last

]

Font:

Proportional Font

LISTSERV Archives

LISTSERV Archives

TSE Home

TSE Home

TSE  February 2013

TSE February 2013

Subject:

Re: Can less be more? was Re: (something else...

From:

Carrol Cox <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

T. S. Eliot Discussion forum.

Date:

Wed, 20 Feb 2013 18:35:21 -0600

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (348 lines)

The topic invites rambling &  digressive response.

There's an old (and I think almost always false) cliché to the effect that
the style is the man. It is truer, I think, that most texts create an
implied author, and that implied author's 'personality' is reflected mostly
in the style. The relationship of implied to actual author is pretty
indeterminate. But the reader's reaction to the "personality" of the implied
narrator or speaker probably influences interpretation. AndI think this
applies to non-fiction as well as fiction and poetry. Oliver Sacks in one of
his books describes the reaction of one audience (in a mental institution)
to a speech by Ronald Reagan. One group consisted of those who could grasp
tone but not content: they laughed uproariously. But one woman (a former
English teacher) had suffered brain damage which made her able to follow the
bare logical sense but _not_ the tone (or emotional force). Her response:
the speaker was either brain damage or lying. Both groups responded, that
is, to _some_ aspects of the speech and were 'deaf' to other aspects. 

(I don't know if this is relevant. I once had a student utterly deaf to any
fictive voice. After reading A Modest Proposal she thought that the Irish in
the early 18th-c practiced cannibalism.)

This too may or may not be relevant. When I went blind it had been some time
since I had read the Iliad, and not being able to read it I was obsessed
with the difficulty. Then we found that a commercial reading of Fitzgerald's
translation existed (on CDs). It was _wonderful_ -- I even found the
Catalogue of Ships (which I had usually skipped) fascinating. Then I got CDs
of a commercial reading of Paradise Regained. That poem is not very popular,
even among Miltonists, but for years I had read and reread it with
fascination: it seemed to be in some ways the best _written_ poem, verse
paragraph by verse paragraph, in English. I could never quite find a handle
to describe it, but the structure and interconnections of the verse
paragraphs probably I thought carried the answer. The CDs bored me. I've got
to try them again, but my first response (and to my favorite poem) was blah!
One, it seemed, needed to SEE the paragraphs unfold on the page, and
something was lost in oral performance.  From the Cantos:

Lord of his work and master of utterance
        Who turneth his word in its season and shapes it

That was my sense of the implied author of PR when I held the book in my
hands, and I lost that sense when I only heard it on a CD. "Taking in" the
poem involved a powerful response to the voice of the implied narrator, but
I don't think it had much to d with either liking/loving or disliking either
the implied or actual author. It is the mastery not the flesh & blood
creator one 'loves' (or sometimes detests, as I do the persona of some of
Frost's poems -- which I still greatly admire.

Ken's view won't hold water I'm afraid.

I mostly agree with Nancy's comments on Pound as a person, but in his prose,
his poems, and aspects of his biography one positive personal trait does
emerge: his great generosity.

Carrol


> -----Original Message-----
> From: T. S. Eliot Discussion forum. [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On
> Behalf Of Peter Dillane
> Sent: Wednesday, February 20, 2013 5:20 PM
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: Re: Can less be more? was Re: (something else...
> 
> Thanks Nancy, I would say I was slipping but that assumes I was on the
ball in
> the first place.
> 
> 
> 
> P
> 
> 
> 
> From: T. S. Eliot Discussion forum. [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On
> Behalf Of Nancy Gish
> Sent: Thursday, 21 February 2013 10:19 AM
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: Re: Can less be more? was Re: (something else...
> 
> 
> 
> Dear Peter,
> 
> 
> 
> It was Ken who thinks it matters to love the writer, not Carrol.
> 
> Nancy
> 
> >>> Peter Dillane <[log in to unmask]> 02/20/13 6:14 PM >>>
> Hey Carrol,
> 
> How far are these observations related to notions of high literature vs
> other kinds of writing. While I have heard people take diametrically
> opposed views of the humanity of Lenin based on his writing it is not so
> common to have an opinion of writings v. writer in other fields is it. And
> if so what does it illustrate about what we are doing when we care to even
> raise the discussion or list some examples as you have done. I suppose the
> cult of Wittgenstein focuses on the personality ( maybe because like me
most
> can't get too far past the world being all that is the case) but how many
> engage with thoughts about A.J. Ayer's personality when considering his
> works. And then is this about the engagement with an author delineated by
> notions of moral worth a la Leavis. Does one think about the person
Dashiell
> Hammett? Maybe some do; the slick aphorisms of detective fiction imply a
> common sense of humour or one wouldn't have got to page 100 together...
> well
> maybe. Perhaps what I am getting at is that the issue arises only once the
> text is given a high status and the reader has invested in it and become
> identified with it in some way.
> 
> Cheers Pete
> 
> -----Original Message-----
> From: T. S. Eliot Discussion forum. [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On
> Behalf
> Of Carrol Cox
> Sent: Thursday, 21 February 2013 2:34 AM
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: Re: Can less be more? was Re: (something else...
> 
> Nancy's last example, Homer, by itself resolves the question abstractly.
> 
> I suspect I would not care to have as a colleague any of the poets I
admire
> most: Jonson, Milton, Rochester, Pope, Wordsworth, Yeats, Pound. There are
> single lines or short passages in each of these writers which, abstracted
> from the whole, momentarily embody a persona one could feel great
> warmth for
> -- but that _persona_ is created by the reader and has little connection
to
> the "whole" man or woman who wrote the whole text. In reading I try, and
> usually succeed, to take the perspective of the implied narrator; I do
this
> even when reading analytical prose by a person whose views I detest. That
> is, I in a sense make myself into a person I detest while holding such a
> text in hand.
> 
> I also found that the most impressive poems by Robert Frost tended to
imply
> that the author was a real shithead viewing his readers with utter
contempt.
> Some of those poems however are about as "immortal" as a mere bunch of
> words can be.
> 
> And then, of course, there are the writers one has not read extensively
but
> suspects would have been favorites had one read them enough. For me that
> includes Marianne Moore, Thomas Pynchon, Byron, and Virginia Woolf. (If
> the
> phrase "impersonal poetry" has any meaning at all, which I doubt, it might
> apply to _Gravity's Rainbow_.)
> 
> Carrol
> 
> 
> > -----Original Message-----
> > From: T. S. Eliot Discussion forum. [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On
> > Behalf Of Nancy Gish
> > Sent: Wednesday, February 20, 2013 12:38 AM
> > To: [log in to unmask]
> > Subject: Re: Can less be more? was Re: (something else...
> >
> > Ken asked the most interesting question in, I think, a couple of years
or
> more
> > on this list, so I am responding to that before I offer my response to
his
> > questions. How great to have a real and serious question here. I hope
> others
> > respond, however they think.
> >
> > You ask if one must not love the writer to fully love (and, I presume,
> > understand) the work. I think it is quite the opposite. I deeply admire
> and
> > could no doubt love as a person someone like Keats, but no one really
> > "loves" an abstraction. I never met him. On the other hand, I think he
was
> > one of the great poetic geniuses in English, but not Dante or
Shakespeare.
> > We don't know what he might have been had he lived past 26. I do not at
> all
> > even like much of what I know of Conrad, but his novels are also those
of
> a
> > genius--and written in a second language--astonishing.
> >
> > As for understanding, it seems that idealizing or loving can easily slip
> into
> > cherry-picking. I think it is as likely to create mistakes as loving. I
am
> not
> > making an either/or; I met and interviewed Hugh MacDiarmid and, despite
> > all the errors in his past and the fact that I do not share most of his
> politics, I
> > found him truly wonderful. But that is not why I write about him and it
> would
> > not prevent my questioning many things in his life.
> >
> > It is ironic that any time I try to discuss Eliot's life, someone
> immediately
> > invokes his (when quite young) theory of "impersonality," which he did
not
> > even retain himself and which did not stop him from using poets' lives
> > himself (as, for example, Yeats) as important in their work and also
said
> his
> > own life with Viv produced TWL. Yet any objection to his life leads to a
> claim
> > that one must care about the poet as a person. This is a contradiction.
As
> I
> > said before, it is even the great conflict of idea and feeling that made
> TWL
> > "immense, magnificent, terrible." It did not come out of being nice or
> lovable
> > or even good. I think Pound is, though, a fine example: I find his
letters
> > annoying, his misogyny in correspondence to Marianne Moore stupidly
> > offensive, and his Fascism unforgivable. But he really could write.
> >
> > If we demand that great writers be paragons or saints, or even likable,
we
> > will have little to read. I'm reading Malory at the moment. He seems to
> have
> > been even criminal, at least by the views of his time. But his stories
of
> Arthur
> > are wonderful, and his writing is also. And what does one do with Homer?
> > Avoid him because no one can say if he was a nice person?
> > Nancy
> >
> ________________________________________________________________
> > ________________________
> > Your queries:
> >
> >
> > >>> Ken Armstrong 02/19/13 5:14 PM >>>
> >
> >
> > On 2/19/2013 11:35 AM, Nancy Gish wrote:
> >
> >     I also have no idea where "lower standards" comes from. At least in
> > my university--and others where I have taught--there is a pretty
> consistent
> > correlation between publication and good teaching. Obviously that is not
> > always true, but nothing is. This is not some absolute standard either
> way.
> > And if getting past serious editing and reviewing is "lowering," I would
> have a
> > difficult time knowing what would raise standards.
> >
> >
> > Again, making publication one of but not the only path to advancement
> > would very possibly raise standards. It would do that by making
> publication
> > more proportionate to the cause of the subject under examination than to
> > the need of the writer to get something into print.
> >
> > I'm afraid I disagree, depending on how you mean this. Yes, good
teaching
> > and important service contributions are essential, but I feel that what
it
> > means to be a professor is to profess, not simply to pass on what others
> > think. So it is not a matter of substitution but of varying
combinations.
> A Ph.D
> > is a research degree for that reason.
> >
> >     It is simplistic--and mistaken--to denigrate publishing as if it
> were not
> > of value.
> >
> > Of course no one has done this. It's the overemphasis on publishing,
> not
> > publishing itself, that's been questioned.
> >
> >
> > I do not think it is overemphasized; in fact it is too often attacked
> without
> > understanding.
> >
> >     What should one teach? Should one reiterate forever, from yellowed
> > notes, the ideas of one's own professors?
> >
> >
> > Should one pursue the minutiae that the proliferation of publications
> > engendered by the publish or perish ethic has produced?
> >
> > Neither literature nor scholarship appears in a vacuum; there must be a
> > broad engagement in ideas and debate for the best to emerge. So even the
> > minutiae, as you call it, is part of a larger cultural and intellectual
> discourse
> > that makes possible the better and best.
> >
> >
> >
> >     The expectation of publication is one of several serious ways to
> offer
> > students the kind of knowledge and experience they want and should have.
> > What we ask of them is to write well, to think critically, and to
develop
> > distinctive theses. And to deal with our editing and evaluations. That
is
> what
> > is required of us also. Nor is it only to improve teaching. Universities
> are
> > centers of discovery and knowledge in every field.
> >
> >
> > Noble stuff and no disagreement here. I'd only suggest that the
> quality of
> > editing and evaluations that you have to undergo might also rise with
> fewer
> > publications and less compulsion to get into print. Seems a simple
enough
> > concept.
> >
> > For every question there is an answer that is "obvious, simple, and
> wrong."
> > The scholars with the most impact are often the ones who publish the
> most.
> > We can all think of names. Would you rather have a seminar on Eliot
with,
> > say, Ron Schuchard, or with someone who never put in the immense effort
> > and work to know what he does?The problem is that not all can give it
that
> > much time--it takes a research university and a major library (and no,
the
> > internet is wonderful but not sufficient to replace the library--what I
> write on
> > in Scotland is not there, for example) to be able to do that. But some
> > overcome the difficulties. There is no logical reason why doing less is
> doing
> > better.
> >
> >      What is the logic or evidence for this judgment?
> >
> >      The one I mentioned or the one you wrote about?
> >
> > The notion of a "simple enough concept," which I do not see as either
> simple
> > or logical.
> >
> > Ken A
> >
> >

Top of Message | Previous Page | Permalink

Advanced Options


Options

Log In

Log In

Get Password

Get Password


Search Archives

Search Archives


Subscribe or Unsubscribe

Subscribe or Unsubscribe


Archives

December 2020
November 2020
October 2020
September 2020
August 2020
July 2020
June 2020
May 2020
April 2020
March 2020
February 2020
January 2020
December 2019
November 2019
October 2019
September 2019
August 2019
July 2019
June 2019
May 2019
April 2019
March 2019
February 2019
January 2019
December 2018
November 2018
October 2018
September 2018
August 2018
July 2018
June 2018
May 2018
April 2018
March 2018
February 2018
January 2018
December 2017
November 2017
October 2017
September 2017
August 2017
July 2017
June 2017
May 2017
April 2017
March 2017
February 2017
January 2017
December 2016
November 2016
October 2016
September 2016
August 2016
July 2016
June 2016
May 2016
April 2016
March 2016
February 2016
January 2016
December 2015
November 2015
October 2015
September 2015
August 2015
July 2015
June 2015
May 2015
April 2015
March 2015
February 2015
January 2015
December 2014
November 2014
October 2014
September 2014
August 2014
July 2014
June 2014
May 2014
April 2014
March 2014
February 2014
January 2014
December 2013
November 2013
October 2013
September 2013
August 2013
July 2013
June 2013
May 2013
April 2013
March 2013
February 2013
January 2013
December 2012
November 2012
October 2012
September 2012
August 2012
July 2012
June 2012
May 2012
April 2012
March 2012
February 2012
January 2012
December 2011
November 2011
October 2011
September 2011
August 2011
July 2011
June 2011
May 2011
April 2011
March 2011
February 2011
January 2011
December 2010
November 2010
October 2010
September 2010
August 2010
July 2010
June 2010
May 2010
April 2010
March 2010
February 2010
January 2010
December 2009
November 2009
October 2009
September 2009
August 2009
July 2009
June 2009
May 2009
April 2009
March 2009
February 2009
January 2009
December 2008
November 2008
October 2008
September 2008
August 2008
July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008
December 2007
November 2007
October 2007
September 2007
August 2007
July 2007
June 2007
May 2007
April 2007
March 2007
February 2007
January 2007
December 2006
November 2006
October 2006
September 2006
August 2006
July 2006
June 2006
May 2006
April 2006
March 2006
February 2006
January 2006
December 2005
November 2005
October 2005
September 2005
August 2005
July 2005
June 2005
May 2005
April 2005
March 2005
February 2005
January 2005
December 2004
November 2004
October 2004
September 2004
August 2004
July 2004
June 2004
May 2004
April 2004
March 2004
February 2004
January 2004
December 2003
November 2003
October 2003
September 2003
August 2003
July 2003
June 2003
May 2003
April 2003
March 2003
February 2003
January 2003
December 2002
November 2002
October 2002
September 2002
August 2002
July 2002
June 2002
May 2002
April 2002
March 2002
February 2002
January 2002
December 2001
November 2001
October 2001
September 2001
August 2001
July 2001
June 2001
May 2001
April 2001
March 2001
February 2001
January 2001
March 1996
February 1996
January 1996
December 1995
November 1995

ATOM RSS1 RSS2



PO.MISSOURI.EDU

Secured by F-Secure Anti-Virus CataList Email List Search Powered by the LISTSERV Email List Manager