Saturday, March 14, 2009

All that is great and luminous and beautiful

[Dream of Spoken Words from Fido the Yak
Elaine Scarry's
Dreaming by the Book promises to be a good read. She has done her research. She writes well. She thinks formidably. I'll surely enjoy critically engaging with this text.
Does poetry speak to us of a tacit dimension of language? If there is a special case of language called poetry, a genre distinct from others that we can isolate and consider separately from our investigations of language, does it yet tell us of a reality, a vivid reality, of all speech and its house, language? My prejudice is clear. I am surrounded by poetry–but perhaps I delude myself. By no stretch am I an expert on what constitutes poetry.
While Scarry holds that "imaginary vivacity comes about by reproducing the deep structure of perception" (p. 9), I suggest that poetic juice flows from the chthonic prosody of all tongues, iteratively one imagines. Assonance and consonance are the stuff of Scarry's prose. Perhaps also her thoughts. However, she claims that "verbal art. . . .has no acoustical features" (p. 5, her emphasis). Can it be said without controversy that verbal art (in the limited sense in which Scarry defines it) has no acoustical features but it echos the spoken word? The idea may be backwards and upsidedown too. Scarry defines poetry (apparently deciding for us that the model for all poetry must be written) as a "sequence of printed signs [which] contains a set of instructions for the production of actual sound; the page itself does not sing but exists forever on the verge of song" (p. 7). Poetic language does not echo the spoken word but formulates it. It presages. Obviously text is a possibility of language, as a way of irrealizing speech. Are any traces of this possibility already inscribed in the spoken word? What about possibilities for following instructions? Dreams. What happens to the spoken word in dreams? Is the word in dreams interpreted through hearing? Does the prosody of a sequence of dream words have no acoustical features? Are these words merely submerged?]

[ Re: A Few Poems ├ć--Sri Aurobindo on Yeats and AE
by RY Deshpande on Fri 13 Mar 2009 10:19 PM IST
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Sri Aurobindo on Yeats and AE: Yes, simplicity is always a sound basis for poetic style Even if one has to be complex, subtle or ornate by necessity of the inspiration, the basic habit of simplicity gives a greater note of genuineness and power to it. I do not think I have been unduly enthusiastic over Yeats, but one must recognise his great artistry in language and verse in which he is far superior to AE just as AE as a man and a seer was far superior to Yeats. Yeats never got beyond a beautiful mid-world of the vital antarik┼ča, he has not penetrated beyond to spiritual-mental heights as AE did. But all the same, when one speaks of poetry, it is the poetical element to which one must give the most importance. What Yeats expressed he expressed with great poetical beauty, perfection and power and he has, besides, a creative imagination. AE had an unequal profundity of vision and power and range in the spiritual and psychic field. AE's thought and way of seeing and saying things is much more sympathetic to me than Yeats' who only touches a brilliant floating skirt-edge of the truth of things but I cannot allow that to influence me when I have to judge of the poetic side of their respective achievements. … The depths of AE are greater than those of Yeats, assuredly. His suggestiveness must therefore be profounder. In this poem [AE's poem entitled Sibyil] which you have translated very beautifully, his power of expression, always penetrating, simple and direct, is at its best and his best, can be miraculously perfect. Of course when you are writing poems or composing you are in contact with your inner being, that is why you feel so different then. The whole art of yoga is to get that contact and to get from it into the inner being itself, for so one can enter directly into and remain in all that is great and luminous and beautiful. Then one can try to establish them in this troublesome and defective outer shell of oneself and in the outer world also. August 1934 to Dilip Roy (The Future Poetry, SABCL, Vol. 9, pp. 532-33)]

Scarry's "deep structure of perception" can travel further to achieve textural commonality with Sri Aurobindo's "contact with inner being." [TNM]

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