Marcia I believe artists intuit the emotional properties of their statements, whether they work in paint or marble or print. A painter chooses a painting's colors and shapes for their expressive qualities. 

Even abstract paintings communicate moods. Look at Rothko. If Rothko's rectangles were hard-edged instead of feathered into their fields they would not communicate the contemplative moods they do. Or if he chose the shape of a lightning bolt or arrow instead of a more or less rectangular cloud. Non-verbal communication. He knew that a low-light and low kinetic properties in a painting would induce a contemplative mood in his viewers. He just knew.

Great artists know the effect their forms will have on their audience. Mediocre artists do not. A poet knows the general effect his verbal and sonic figures will induce. As I wrote previously, poems as rich as Eliot's do not reduce to one-to-one significances. A barge does not only and always mean Queen Elizabeth's. But Eliot knows when he is creating the general effect of majesty, whatever specific associations each reader brings to the text, and he knows when a figure will accrue sordid associations. He just knew.

Artists' intuition is a bit like mind-reading. A pedantic approach to art denies that magic. Diana

From: Marcia Karp <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To: "T. S. Eliot Discussion forum." <[log in to unmask]>
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Here is no prophet and no great matter
Date: Sat, 17 Feb 2007 14:20:52 -0500

How could anyone, no matter how great a writer, know your associations to all words, phrases, objects, events, ... ?  Is your prophet also supposed to know how the language will change?

Even more important, why would your great writer care about your associations etc.?  He's writing the truth as he knows it, that is, if he is a great writer.


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Diana Manister <[log in to unmask]> wrote (Tue, 13 Feb 2007):
I've always believed that a great author allows for readers' likely
associations with his words and images. If "lilac hour" means romance,
a lyrical mood, and nostalgia to me, and danger to someone else,
I believe Eliot, being a great writer, anticipated all of those responses
and designed the poem as a whole so that all possible associations
would work with all the rest to convey the meaning he intended.
There is no one-to-one limited correspondence of stimulus-response
in a successful poem, but ambiguities that shimmer in general areas
of meaning.

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