Marcia you are asking me to prove the unprovable. I am merely suggesting that a great artist can intuit what kinds of associations will be made to his or her images. Naturally he or she has a sense of who composes the audience for his or her work. In other words, artists probably do not factor the reactions of the insane into the anticipated reactions to their work. When I wrote "every possible reaction" I meant the reactions of the poet's readership, or the painter's viewers, not the reactions of incarcerated sociopaths or dilapidated schizophrenics, to whom "playground bullying" would occur as an association to "violet hour." You know you are being disingenuous in harping on the phrase "every possible association" when it's obvious I meant the responses of artist's usual audience. 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: Re: Here is no prophet and no great matter
Date: Mon, 19 Feb 2007 11:09:10 -0500

I didn't say you contradicted yourself.  I said you changed your claim, as you yourself quote me:

Thank you for your reply below, Diana, but this is not what you wrote before:
This is not the same as your example of violet hour/romantic and violet hour/dangerous. 
If you don't want to discuss something, say so, but please don't keep changing the terms of the discussion, and please don't put words into my mouth. 

You haven't yet addressed your claim that Eliot knows "every possible association" to what he writes.  You stick to two associations to the "violet hour."  What about the association of it to playground bullying or to drug abuse or to ... ?  You have set up what seems to me an impossible-to-support argument and I am asking that you show me how it can be supported.

Marcia



Diana Manister wrote:
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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.

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.

Marcia, I see no contradiction between those paragraphs, although they were written at different times. Among the associations that can accrue to "violet hour" are romance and danger, which are associated in all forms of literature from detective novels and popular fiction to the worst and best poetry. We all adopt pedantry at times. I was differentiating the non-intellectual associative response from one that operates on the factual level.

A general effect of majesty will evoke a wide assortment of majesterial associations: I may think of Helen Mirren playing the recent Queen, someone else may think of Cleopatra cruising down the Nile on her barge, someone else a sublime sunset implying the super-human forces of the cosmos, but all those associations have something in common. Anticipating what that is something an artist like Eliot could do. 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: Re: Here is no prophet and no great matter
Date: Sun, 18 Feb 2007 11:18:39 -0500

Thank you for your reply below, Diana, but this is not what you wrote before:
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.
Here you move from "likely associations" to individual ones, to "all of those" to "all possible."  Changing your argument doesn't make a bad one good.

I'd like to see any evidence you have that I read poems pedantically.  I do hold the prose messages on this list to a standard of, at minimum, consistency or acknowledgment of complexity or logic.

You now write:
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.
This is not the same as your example of violet hour/romantic and violet hour/dangerous. 

"He just knew" is very convincing.

Best,
Marcia

Diana Manister wrote:
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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.

Best,
Marcia

[log in to unmask]>
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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