Print

Print


All this is okay and well known. I think one will have to read Glenn
Hughes. Thanks.

CR

On Sun, Feb 5, 2017 at 7:25 PM Nancy Gish <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> This is the beginning of Symons's *The Symbolist Movement in Literature*.
> It was a major early influence on Eliot. I copy it here because Symons
> distinguishes between the symbolism of all language by definition, and what
> he named "symbolist." This is online in pdf, by the way, and it can be
> downloaded. I simply pointed to the distinction Symons made, and as it was
> this book that Eliot read early and that made the distinction specifically,
> perhaps discussion might address the contrast Carrol noted and I emphasized.
>
> My prior point was that not all poetry is or aims to be about the
> invisible. WCW pretty much hated the idea (though of course even he could
> not eliminate images and symbols entirely, but he wanted "no ideas but in
> things). Symons describes what he sees as a particular historic form of
> poetry, not language in general and not poetry by definition.
>
>
>
> Symons:
>
> *INTRODUCTION *
>
> "It is in and through Symbols that man, consciously or
>
> unconsciously, lives, works, and has his being: those ages,
>
> moreover, are accounted the noblest which can the best
>
> recognise symbolical worth, and prize it highest."
>
> CARLYLE
>
> WITHOUT symbolism there can be no literature;
>
> indeed, not even language. What
>
> are words themselves but symbols, almost as
>
> arbitrary as the letters which compose them,
>
> mere sounds of the voice to which we have
>
> agreed to give certain significations, as we have
>
> agreed to translate these sounds by those combinations
>
> of letters ? Symbolism began with
>
> the first words uttered by the first man, as he
>
> named every living thing; or before them, in
>
> heaven, when God named the world into being.
>
> And we see, in these beginnings, precisely what
>
> Symbolism in literature really is: a form of
>
> 2 THE SYMBOLIST MOVEMENT
>
> expression, at the best but approximate, essentially
>
> but arbitrary, until it has obtained the
>
> force of a convention, for an unseen reality apprehended
>
> by the consciousness. It is sometimes
>
> permitted to us to hope that our convention
>
> is indeed the reflection rather than merely
>
> the sign of that unseen reality. We have done
>
> much if we have found a recognisable sign.
>
> "A symbol," says Comte Goblet d'Alviella,
>
> in his book on *The Migration of Symbols,*
>
> *" *might be denned as a representation which
>
> does not aim at being a reproduction." Originally,
>
> as he points out, used by the Greeks to
>
> denote "the two halves of the tablet they
>
> divided between themselves as a pledge of
>
> hospitality," it came to be used of every sign,
>
> formula, or rite by which those initiated in
>
> any mystery made themselves secretly known
>
> to one another. Gradually the word extended
>
> its meaning, until it came to denote
>
> every conventional representation of idea by
>
> form, of the unseen by the visible. "In a
>
> Symbol," says Carlyle, "there is concealment
>
> and yet revelation: hence, therefore, by Silence
>
> and by Speech acting together, comes a double
>
> significance." And, in that fine chapter of
>
> INTRODUCTION 3
>
> *Sartor Resartus, *he goes further, vindicating
>
> for the word its full value: "In the Symbol
>
> proper, what we can call a Symbol, there is
>
> ever, more or less distinctly and directly, some
>
> embodiment and revelation of the Infinite;
>
> the infinite is made to blend itself with the
>
> Finite, to stand visible, and as it were, attainable
>
> there."
>
> *It is in such a sense as this that the word*
>
> *Symbolism has been used to describe a movement*
>
> *which, during the last generation, has*
>
> *profoundly influenced the course of French*
>
> *literature.* All such words, used of anything
>
> so living, variable, and irresponsible as literature,
>
> are, as symbols themselves must so often
>
> be, mere compromises, mere indications. Symbolism,
>
> as seen in the writers of our day, would
>
> have no value if it were not seen also, under
>
> one disguise or another, in every great imaginative
>
> writer. *What distinguishes the Symbolism*
>
> *of our day from the Symbolism of the past*
>
> *is that it has now become conscious of itself, in*
>
> *a sense in which it was unconscious even in*
>
> *Gerard de Nerval, to whom I trace the particular*
>
> *origin of the literature which I call Symbolist. [emphasis mine]*
>
> The forces which mould the thought of
>
> 4 THE SYMBOLIST MOVEMENT
>
> men change, or men's resistance to them slackens;
>
> with the change of men's thought comes
>
> a change of literature, alike in its inmost
>
> essence and in its outward form: after the
>
> world has starved its soul long enough in the
>
> contemplation and the re-arrangement of material
>
> things, comes the turn of the soul; and
>
> with it comes the literature of which I write in
>
> this volume/a literature in which the visible
>
> world is no longer a reality, and the unseen
>
> world no longer a dream.
>
> On Sun, Feb 5, 2017 at 7:05 PM, Chanan Mittal <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>
>
> *Goonight Bill. Goonight Lou. Goonight May. Goonight. *
>
> *Ta ta. Goonight. Goonight. *
> *Good night, ladies, good night, sweet ladies, good night, good night. *
>
>
> *The river bears no empty bottles, sandwich papers, *
>
> *Silk handkerchiefs, cardboard boxes, cigarette ends *
> *Or other testimony of summer nights. The nymphs are departed. *
>
> The poetry does stretch beyond the visible, the said, and implicates the
> invisible, the unsaid, the incommensurable, the ultimate.
>
> A pretty symbolic mode.
>
> CR
>
> On Sun, Feb 5, 2017 at 5:51 PM Nancy Gish <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>
> It seems impossible to say anything without it becoming a totally tiresome
> personal attack. I did say something, as did Carrol. I don't see any point
> to repeating it. But mean-spirited personal remarks do not mean I missed
> anything. And as obnoxious as it is to say this, I really don't think you
> are qualified to tell me what I understand or miss. One could quite
> logically--from your statement--argue that symbols give classified ads the
> CAPACITY [emphasis yours] to elicit the incommensurable and transcendent.
> In fact, watching even a few on TV suggests that fast cars, chocolates,
> shampoo, air fresheners, Cialis (though in separate bathtubs),
> "everything's better when it ships free," (now have a slightly hysterical
> upsurge of ecstasy), [fill in your own]--are all instant routes to the
> incommensurable and transcendent.
>
> This is predictable and immediate leap to sneering is also, I think, why
> this list long ago ceased to sustain any real discussion.
> Nancy
>
> On Sun, Feb 5, 2017 at 5:37 PM, Ken A <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>
> In the ever so brief quote from Hughes, he said the symbolic nature of
> poetry gives it the CAPACITY to elicit the incommensurable and
> transcendence. Why assert that this excludes anything else that poetry
> might do? Carrol and you apparently missed that seemingly reasonable part
> of the formulation.  Of Carrol's objection to Hughes' wordiness: at least
> Hughes had something to say. Most especially on the T S Eliot list, I would
> hope that poetry's dealings with ultimate meaning, the incommensurable, and
> transcendence constitute eminently appropriate topics of conversation.
>
> Ken A
> On Feb 5, 2017, at 4:58 PM, Nancy Gish <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>
> The issue I raised is about "symbol" vs. "symbolist."
> N
>
> On Sun, Feb 5, 2017 at 4:46 PM, Chanan Mittal <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>
> "Neither flesh nor fleshless"
>
> "concentration / Without elimination"
>
> No, it does not exclude anything. It includes the physical as well as the
> metaphysical.  Only it does not exclude the ultimate, the permanent, the
> Absolute. It adds something to, and thus enriches, our experience of this
> world.
>
> *Who is the third who walks always beside you? *
> *When I count, there are only you and I together *
> *But when I look ahead up the white road *
> *There is always another one walking beside you *
> *Gliding wrapt in a brown mantle, hooded *
> *I do not know whether a man or a woman *
> *—But who is that on the other side of you? *
>
> CR
>
> On Sun, Feb 5, 2017 at 1:12 PM Nancy Gish < [log in to unmask]> wrote:
>
> The issue here is, as you note, what one means by "symbolic." Hughes seems
> to think it is the same as "symbolist" in the notion of being a gateway to
> a spiritual world outside physical reality. That would seem to cut out a
> great deal of poetry--like imagism, or WCW or Levertov or any poet who saw
> or sees poems as ways to engage with the material world directly.
>
> Otherwise, as you say, it is just a tautology.
> Nancy
>
> On Sun, Feb 5, 2017 at 1:07 PM, Carrol Cox <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>
> "Because poetry is fundamentally symbolic in its form, it possesses the
> capacity to suggest the incommensurable and unknowable of the
> transcendence
> and thereby reawaken the spiritual experiences that gave rise to the
> symbols
> and stories of poetry in the first place."
>
> This is an odd proposition. Classified ads are fundamentally symbolic.
> Porn
> videos on YouTube  are fundamentally symbolic. Coffee-shop chatter is
> fundamentally symbolic. Nothing in particular follows from the tautology
> that poetry is symbolic.
>
> The portentousness of the mere word, "symbol," is itself a bit odd.
>
> And what is the difference between "poetry is symbolic" and "poetry is
> fundamentally symbolic in its form"?
>
> Carrol
>
>
>
>
>
>