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  1. #81
    meh Salomé's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lexicon View Post
    ..how do you FEEL?
    That truly is poetry for extroverts.
    Quote Originally Posted by Ivy View Post
    Gosh, the world looks so small from up here on my high horse of menstruation.

  2. #82
    Glowy Goopy Goodness The_Liquid_Laser's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Salomé View Post
    You are either being deliberately dense, or else you simply can't help it. The sonnet is about poetry itself and the timelessness of the WRITTEN word.

    Either way, it's clear to me that you fail to understand the power of poetry, if you think it's all in the performance. You certainly fail to understand Shakespeare's genius.
    A pitfall of unbalanced extroversion, perhaps.
    Oh the irony.

    The genius of Shakespeare is that he made low brow entertainment for the unwashed masses. Today it is considered "high art" because he was working on many layers (both shallow and deep). Shakespeare in his day is much like The Simpsons today. A century from now intellectuals will be praising The Simpsons and saying how most people are too stupid or lazy to understand it's depth.

    These intellectuals treat poetry (and Shakespeare) like a mechanically inclined kid treats a new toaster. He takes it a part and marvels and all of the intracacy that went into the construction of the toaster. He can't believe that most people don't appreciate the genius that went into making the toaster. But what the kid doesn't realize is that the true genius of the toaster is that it will make you breakfast in about a minute. And most people don't want more out of the toaster than that, so they'll never take it apart.

    And that is what Shakespeare is like. The true genius of Shakespeare is that it is very entertaining when done right. The reason it is entertaining is that there is a lot going on underneath that most people will never be aware of. A person shouldn't know how to make a toaster in order to enjoy toast, and a person shouldn't have to analyze Shakespeare's dialoge in order to enjoy his plays. They are meant to be enjoyed by everyone.
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  3. #83
    meh Salomé's Avatar
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    I'll grant you that the unwashed masses of Elizabethan England were a lot smarter than most modern audiences.
    The rest is bullshit and does nothing to support your claim that "Shakespeare is not literature".
    Quote Originally Posted by Ivy View Post
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  4. #84
    Symbolic Herald Vasilisa's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by The_Liquid_Laser View Post
    I disagree. Esoteric definitely means bad. There may be a few people who like that, but this method intentionally alienates most people. That is why it is bad. This type of poetry intentionally wants to be stuck in a niche.

    That's why it sucks. A good poem is inviting at the very beginning. I dare say all good art is this way. It is accessible to the common person immediately, but it also has more depth on further observation. Too many artists get caught up on the depth. It's good to be deep, but it's also lazy if that is all you are doing. Well crafted art of all kind is both accessible and deep. Hard to do? Yes definitely. Good art is not easy.
    Quote Originally Posted by The_Liquid_Laser View Post
    Not exactly. I think that art is not good if the creator requires the audience to do a lot of work. I think the artist should do the work instead of the audience doing the work. On the other hand often with good art if you dig deeper you find there is more there then you would find at first glance.
    It is the poets that are bad. They are satisfied writing poetry for a tiny (and often elitist) niche. If they wanted to be good they might actually try to make their poetry accessible. But the poetry culture has told them that it is good to be elitist and mediocre. Poetry culture encourages poets to suck. Poetry could actually be a vitally alive artform if the poets worked on making their poems accessible.
    If its all about accessibility, I don't know how you differentiate between art and kitsch. Or art and any mass media made for our consumer culture. Any kind of pandering poetry is going to ring hollow.

    I am quite sure this is not a modern phenomena. Like I said Shakespeare was uneducated and made his plays appealing to the common person. Gone With the Wind was written by a newspaper journalist who had no background in writing novels. She was not trying to appeal to an elitist crowd. She was just an ordinary person writing for ordinary people, but the book sold like crazy and the movie is the greatest selling movie of all time. Once Mozart was on his own his operas and symphonies played to huge crowds, much larger than was conventional at the time. Mark Twain stood out at his time for using a language that was much more accessible to the common American compared to his peers. Michaelangelo is so accessible that he is still enjoyed by many people today. I could actually go on and on there are so many examples.
    Maybe the key is not pandering to the elitist crowd nor trying to create something accessible, but instead to create something authentic that comes from images in the artist's mind and once given life manages on its own to resonate with others. Maybe these works of art transcended class and time because they come from and speak to a human experience that can only be shared in images or sound. There is an aliveness that transports. Its different than demographically targeted marketing (so accessible to 18-34 year old females!) or programmed, engineered flat utility. I'm in favor of expression and artists being true to their vision, not feeling constrained to approach things in only one way, up or down someone else's measurement scale of what is worthwhile. For every Margaret Mitchell there is someone else who put down their pen because they felt they were wasting their time because art is best left to professionals AND/OR their art wouldn't be well-liked. The twin torments of feeling inadequate and feeling dissatisfied with the art you create in order to please others - they find everyone. Most people give up.

    Quote Originally Posted by Forever_Jung View Post
    I think we both agree that poetry shouldn't be too pandering or too obscure.
    Its why I'm less concerned about prescriptive shoulds and more about fostering people to create independently.
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  5. #85
    Glowy Goopy Goodness The_Liquid_Laser's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vasilisa View Post
    If its all about accessibility, I don't know how you differentiate between art and kitsch. Or art and any mass media made for our consumer culture. Any kind of pandering poetry is going to ring hollow.
    (I have answered this before, but I will answer it again.) Never have I said it is all about accessibility. Accessibility is a necessary but insufficient condition. The actual content of the art has to be good regardless of how accessible it is.

    Everyone disagreeing with me seems to think we live in a black and white world where either art is accessible or it has meaningful content. Why can't it have both? I am saying good art has both.

    Maybe the key is not pandering to the elitist crowd nor trying to create something accessible, but instead to create something authentic that comes from images in the artist's mind and once given life manages on its own to resonate with others. Maybe these works of art transcended class and time because they come from and speak to a human experience that can only be shared in images or sound. There is an aliveness that transports. Its different than demographically targeted marketing (so accessible to 18-34 year old females!) or programmed, engineered flat utility. I'm in favor of expression and artists being true to their vision, not feeling constrained to approach things in only one way, up or down someone else's measurement scale of what is worthwhile. For every Margaret Mitchell there is someone else who put down their pen because they felt they were wasting their time because art is best left to professionals AND/OR their art wouldn't be well-liked. The twin torments of feeling inadequate and feeling dissatisfied with the art you create in order to please others - they find everyone. Most people give up.


    Its why I'm less concerned about prescriptive shoulds and more about fostering people to create independently.
    (Referring to bold) you may not realize this, but you are talking about accessibility. If a work transcends class and time, then it has high accessibility. It is going beyond a niche group and speaking to people from different backgrounds and cultures. The more types of people a work reaches, the more accessible it is. Conversely if you are trying to target a specific group (e.g. 18-34 year old females), then you are purposely lowering your accessibility to target a niche group.
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  6. #86
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    My two cents: cultures have various levels to them, some that are "high" which represented the finest products of a given culture - which we stereotypically associate with say Renassiance painting or classical music. And then there are "low" forms of culture like folk art and music traditionally speaking.

    I guess to give some examples illustrating this divide, here's some pieces from the Medieval period.

    An example of "high" Medieval culture and music, a church choral piece:
    [youtube="pTLx7aL7dIQ"]"high" culture[/youtube]

    An example of "low" Medieval culture, a drinking song:
    [youtube="zNLoti4sjlI"]"low" culture[/youtube]

    It's not really a matter of one or the other, you need both in order to have a vibrant culture - yet they expresses the common cultural framework at different levels. And this applies as much to poetry as anyother artistic or cultural activity. Nor are they necessarily mutually exclusive either: Robert Burns for example based many of his poems on common folk songs and poems. Alice von Hildebrand once noted upon her travels throughout Italy of barely literate peasants being able to cite by heart entire passages of Dante's Divine Comedy.

    I'll end it there. I don't want to bore you people with a tome.

  7. #87
    Senior Member tkae.'s Avatar
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    Okay, well, I'm a junior at a school that has a pretty major writer's conference, so I've actually met a bunch of award-winning authors and poets, Guggenheim Fellows, Pulitzer Prize winners, New York Times Bestsellers, etc...

    Some of them are snobby, but for the most part they're awesome, a few of them added me on Facebook

    Not bragging, it's relevant:

    The answer to this question is that yes, they're fully conscious of what they're doing, and no, they're not at all conscious of what they're doing in the poem.

    I know that's a sucky answer, but it's true. Real writers -- good writers -- are generally conscious of a lot of what's going on in their writing. You have to understand that writers don't sit down and shit out their work, press it into paper form, then ship it off to a journal or a publisher for big famez and shit. Generally, works are in their 7th or 8th version, and each time a writer works on it they work on something new. Poets do this less than authors, but poets have to revise their stuff very heavily, and poets also write twenty poems for every one short story an author writes. They're prolific, and so they have larger pools to draw from when they're choosing which version of the poem represents what they're trying to say.

    Cause a writer can spend three or five or ten pieces and it really just be different attempts at the same piece.

    In that vein, a large part of writing is unconscious. Anne Lamott is a famous writer that wrote a book called Bird by Bird, and she talks about what it means to be a writer. One of the best analogies for me as a writer is that writers are like vacuums. We go about the world constantly sucking things up, collecting trash and dust and stuff, until the bag is full and we regurgitate the collected waste -- our opinions and impressions -- into creative form. So essentially, a writer might not be entirely conscious of where they got ideas or phrases or words or images. I notice all the time that I'm using a phrase or an idea that I picked up somewhere recently, be it from a news report or a youtube video, etc.

    In that way, an image in a poem can be completely random and unconscious, but still very much intended. Typically they notice it in hindsight. Revision is what separates the amateurs from the professionals. Revision is where a writer really improves a piece and themselves as a writer. They go back and make sure the voice is working, checking the images and looking for potential patterns and symbols that they can draw out a little bit more for better effect. They look at everything and go down into the obsessive about almost pointless details, sentence structures, image impacts. Like Mark Twain said, "The difference between a good word and the right word is a the difference between lightning and a lightning bug."

    That's a statement more true in poetry than prose. Poets are absolutely anal retentive about a word. It has to have the perfect word association, the perfect sound, the perfect feel, the perfect rhythm...

    They'll spend days and even throw out poems based entirely on a single word.

    So in a poem, nothing is random.

    Having said all that, some of the more abstract interpretations of poems are completely valid, even if the author never thought of them. There's been a huge debate among literary scholars and even writers (though we tend be more laid back about it and aren't as big of assholes) about the point where a writer's intended meaning ends and where the reader's interpretation begins. (You can actually think about it in terms of sex, about how much the woman's pleasure matters during it).

    In varying degrees, different artistic movements have different opinions. I can't remember who thought what, but I know a lot of Postmodernists are big on the reader's interpretation being even more important about a work than the author's intention. So a lot of postmodernists, even me sometimes, write in a way that puts the burden on the reader to construct the meaning of the piece. It's big in formalism, where we write prose in forms like two columns or even a story one woman wrote in the form of a crossword puzzle, and the reactions to the story and the form that the reader has is essentially the meaning of the story. We leave it up to the reader to not only decide what the meaning of the story is, but to create a meaning by their experience of reading the story and processing it. There's even a tradition in metafiction -- writing stories about the act of writing and the nature of the writer -- where the writer will do everything possible to knock the reader out of the story to keep reminding them, "Hey, wake up, this is just text on a page." They fight against the suspension of disbelief -- when a reader suspends reality and enters a fictitious, artificial reality by engaging with what's on the page -- and try to remind the reader that it's just a story, they're not doing anything special.

    By the way, formalism is also the name of a bunch of famous Russian guys from the 40s, but they're pricks and they're all dead and cold, so we stole the name

    I can't remember how much Modernists believed in the artist's intention being more important than the reader's interpretation. Based on what I know about Postmodernism, I'm inclined to say that authorial intent was a big deal, since a lot of people think Postmodernists "blithely jettison authorial intent as a vestige of our authoritarian predecessors." And I'm 100% sure that Modernists put The Artist up on a golden pedestal, as something greater than the common man. So I'm inclined to say that Modernists was pro-authorial intent. But then you've got William Carlos Williams' poem about the red wheelbarrow:

    so much depends
    upon

    a red wheel
    barrow

    glazed with rain
    water

    beside the white
    chickens.

    Whatever your derpy high school teacher said, the poem is essentially pointing out imagism (a Modernist thing that's standard in writing today) where images create a world in the suspended disbelief. The poem, and therefor the world created by suspended disbelief, by the act of you reading the poem and forming the images in your head, creates a world revolving around the images he uses. So essentially with three images -- a wheelbarrow, rainwater, and chickens -- he creates an entire scene that the reader finishes in their mind.

    It's a fucking microreality in your skull!

    You'd think that'd argue for reader interpretation, though... but he was an odd bird in the Modernist movement. Anyways.

    Some writers say the reader is sort of like the woman in sex. She's meant to take it and enjoy it (a lot like traditionalist conservatives).

    It's easily defensible, just like the argument for reader interpretation. The difference is that proponents of authorial intent typically carry themselves in a way that brings about respect, whereas reader interpretation proponents a.k.a. Postmodernists are either hiding in a WWII bunker somewhere in New Jersey or dressed like grunge rockers and busy starting riots at anarchist rallies



    Anyways, here's a few things to leave with.

    A writer never does anything for no reason. The degree of this depends on the writer, since some writers are extremely dense, with layers upon layers upon layers of images that are symbols for deeper ideas. They're anal about it, and they always mean something. Alternatively, other writers are so maximalist and wordy that they pull entire chapters out of their ass to say simple things (a.k.a. Moby Dick). It's why a lot the writer's history is a lot more important in today's discussions than it was forty or sixty years ago, where only the text could be discussed. They thought the writer's life was irrelevant. But today, we take the pains and traumas of a writer more seriously, which is usually a good indicator of what they were conscious of. Like Charles Dickens, whether he meant to or not, he brought in a lot about poverty. No matter how you look at it, his past shaped his writing. It's either a conscious argument or a pain from his childhood that seeped into his writing (which happens all the time, it's scary as a writer to see something from your past pointed out in one of your works or a trend or even a trademark you've developed).

    Also, remember that, while high school teachers are trained in education and the subject matter, they aren't authorities. Believe me on this, because I'm class with teachers who are grabbing a graduate degree in Education and so they're taking the higher level version of the class I'm in (more work, same lectures). They're trained to manage classrooms and get a bunch of bratty teenagers who couldn't give a shit to actually give a shit about what's going on in the books they aren't reading.

    This is not training for authoritative positions in literary criticism or literary writing. Just because Mrs. Smith thought the red wheelbarrow was a symbol for the working man's struggle against the drought of 1932, that doesn't make it true. But, again, who am I to say what's right or wrong? If that's what she got from the poem...

    Which is where reader interpretation comes into play. It's no longer just William Carlos Williams' poem. As a reader, her reaction to the poem is part of her experience with the poem.

    That's why English is tricky for Judgers and for Thinkers. God help the xxTJ who stumbles into a poetry class

    And lastly, nothing a writer does is random. Even when a writer does something they don't mean to do, it's not random. It came from somewhere in their subconscious, somewhere from their vacuum bag, whether it's a personal trauma working itself out in the creative work or whether it's an unintentional reaction to something going on at the time that the person writes the story, it came from somewhere. And the fact that the writer liked how it sounded or how it looked means that it's up for grabs.

    And while some literary criticism goes completely beyond the same solar system of what the writer intended, it's rhetoric at the end of the day. It's an argument, and if it's a defensible argument, it's valid. Even if it relates to cell phones when the writer died before the telegraph was invented...

    Ideas, concepts, and arguments are all valid in literary criticism.

    But if you're asking whether the author himself or herself meant something in their poem/book, and don't care about reader interpretation and whatnot, then the best way to find out is to write them a letter or an email and see if they answer back

    Because that's a big reason why I dropped all those names up at the top. For every technical and personal writing trick I've learned from that conference, I've also gotten with it a reminder that writers are, on average, really cool people. Some of them can be overbearing, but on average they're pretty nice, and they're almost always nice when you're complimenting them. So feel free to write them a letter or an email, ask their publisher how to get it to them, and tell them how much you love their work and were wondering what they were really meaning when they wrote the poem you're wondering about

    Unless your favorite author is someone like Stephanie Meyers (who's pretty nice but has too many fans for fan mail responses) or J.K. Rowling (who's an asshole). Literary writing isn't as glamorous and unless you're talking about a huge name like Joyce Carol Oates or a recluse like Thomas Pynchon, they're usually free enough to hear from someone they touched. Genre writers typically have too many fans and are too busy to care about replying lol


    Also, if you ever talk to a writer and ask them about their work, you'll very frequently get this response:

    I just wrote a story, I wasn't trying to say anything fancy.

    That's bullshit. We care about our stories too much for that to ever be true. What we're really saying is, "I'm glad you think I'm smart, and I did lots of really smart things in the story, but I don't want to gamble with your glorified opinion of me by the risk of sounding stupid when I explain what I did or for not explaining something you noticed my story was doing that I hadn't thought about before, so I'll just feign humility and leave you thinking I'm an accidental genius."

    A good writer always knows what they're doing, even when they don't
    "Not knowing how near the truth is, we seek it far away." -Ekaku Hakuin
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  8. #88
    & Badger, Ratty and Toad Mole's Avatar
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    The Grammar School and the School for Self Esteem

    Quote Originally Posted by Salomé View Post
    I'll grant you that the unwashed masses of Elizabethan England were a lot smarter than most modern audiences.
    The rest is bullshit and does nothing to support your claim that "Shakespeare is not literature".
    William Shakespeare received a Grammar School education as did so many of his peers.

    It was an excellent education, and Shakespeare couldn't have written his plays and sonnets without it, and his peers couldn't have understood his work without their Grammar School education.

    And alas for us, Shakespeare's Grammar School education is superior to our education today in self esteem.

  9. #89
    Symbolic Herald Vasilisa's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by The_Liquid_Laser View Post
    (I have answered this before, but I will answer it again.) Never have I said it is all about accessibility. Accessibility is a necessary but insufficient condition. The actual content of the art has to be good regardless of how accessible it is.

    Everyone disagreeing with me seems to think we live in a black and white world where either art is accessible or it has meaningful content. Why can't it have both? I am saying good art has both.

    (Referring to bold) you may not realize this, but you are talking about accessibility. If a work transcends class and time, then it has high accessibility.
    This is your criteria, not mine. I am not talking about accessibility, I am talking about authenticity in creation. I don't anticipate we will agree, but we can at least be clear. You may value the artist who speaks to numbers and I may value the artist who speaks in the authentic way that is accessible to him or herself. The ultimate niche, but the only source of genuine creativity.
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  10. #90
    Glowy Goopy Goodness The_Liquid_Laser's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vasilisa View Post
    This is your criteria, not mine. I am not talking about accessibility, I am talking about authenticity in creation. I don't anticipate we will agree, but we can at least be clear. You may value the artist who speaks to numbers and I may value the artist who speaks in the authentic way that is accessible to him or herself. The ultimate niche, but the only source of genuine creativity.
    Actually I am not sure we disagree. If you are not talking about accessibility, then how are you disagreeing with me? I certainly don't think the author should compromise authenticity (or "truth" as Silkroad put it). I am talking more about craft than content. I do not think craft and content have to be at odds with one another. In fact craft can enhance content.

    For example tkae.'s post talked about editing and revision. When a novelist does this they are making their work more accessible. They are making sure the reader is getting the exact message they are trying to send. However the content of what the author is saying is largely all there from the first draft. The authenticity or "truth" is already there. The novelist is doing the revision to make the message more accessible. They want their story to be told as intended. They aren't doing revisions to dilute their athenticity, nor should they.

    Are you disagreeing with the idea of doing revisions before finalizing the work? I'm not sure what you're disagreeing with. I'm certainly not disagreeing with anything you've said so far.
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