Thursday, September 13, 2012

Part I: Why Poetry Matters - Student Responses

Installment: Thoughts on Jay Parini’s Why Poetry Matters.  

Does it matter?

Does it matter to you?

Does it matter to everyone?

Should it?

Quoting Quotes - and altering quotes:
http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/577/02/


John Waldon:


A quote from the very first page, its the sign before an exit thats guiding you towards a destination, direct no offer of a counter Adrienne Rich writes “If our language is inadequate, our vision remains formless, our thinking and feeling are still running in the old cycles, our process may be ‘revolutionary’ but not transformative.” She clearly relates word choice to your ability to create visualizations and change moods and minds.
“Language offers tools for picking at reality, for dislodging shards of meaning, thus allowing us to communicate with one another in practical ways” language literally helps us communicate with one another. Word choice can change who is able to understand you or what they get out of it

“How comes it that human beings, whose contacts with the world are brief and personal and limited, are nevertheless able to know as much as they do know?” This quote resonated in my soul because it actually makes no sense that we are able to express things we never need to. Nature calls it self no name yet we constantly try to define it. 

Matt Hard:

”The assumption that language reflects reality struck him as simplistic and distorting, even in his own (rather complex) formulation of this notion; he had begun to think the ways in which language transforms reality, embodies it, and even creates it” (26). I really do not like this statement and disagree with it in the sense that I do not believe what Parini chooses to highlight from Wittgenstein says. Reality is reality. What is real is real. You cannot transform reality, but rather you can influence people’s views, and how they perceive reality. I agree that language can, however, embody and create reality. Of course language is influential and can closely imitate reality, but never, ever, transform what is.
”there is an odd fact about language that has been apparent for a long time: there are only so many words; yet from these relatively few words one can create an endless variety of nuanced meaning. In fact, there seems to be no end to what can be produced from these limited materials” (30-31). This piece really stuck with me. It made me think about how many words we actually use. From person to person there  is going to be an obvious difference in vocabulary, whether it be in the size or sophistication. But in total, there are only so many words that we use, or even have access to. You would think that you will be limited in what you can say and how you can make people feel with these words based off of how many words you use. Yet there are an infinite feelings you can make someone feel. There is an infinite number of stories you can tell. While we may be limited by these words that have existed and been evolving for a long we still are capable of creating new structures.


BRANDON KRAMER:



Have you ever wondered how human beings know so much and how there is so much technology in this world? Parini offers this quote from Chomsky in his chapter about language. “‘How comes it that human beings, whose contacts with the world are brief and personal and limited, are nevertheless able to know as much as they do know?’” (Parini 29). The more you think about this quote, the more it makes sense, and the more it astounds you. Why does new technology keep appearing when humans have about the same life expectancy? Shouldn’t we gain the same amount of knowledge in our 80 years of life and a person did in the 1800’s that lived for 80 years? This is where language comes in. Though we were not alive 200 years ago, our generation learns from those that were alive and builds upon their knowledge. Language allows humans to share ideas and continue moving forward. It’s amazing that with a lot of dirt, a lot of water, and some minerals, humans can now make smartphones, robots, planes and everything else to do with technology.

John Stuart Mill also makes an interesting quotes about poems in general and their length regarding to language. Parini quotes Mill, writing “all real poems should be ‘short poems; it being impossible that a feeling so intense...should sustain itself at its highest elevation for so long.’” I completely agree with this quotation. The longer a poem is, the shorter the reader’s attention span will be. Eventually, the reader will lose focus and the poem will lose its meaning. This is why its hard to make a meaningful poem that is longer. There will be a few particular interesting ideas within a longer poem, but it is impossible to mantain the level intensity and emotion that a poem requires.

Josh:

"Painting is mute poetry, and poetry a speaking picture," says Simonides of Ceos. Though this saying can appear to be confusing, Simonides describes poetry as mirroring reality. Painting and poetry go hand and hand. Since we are unable to speak through pictures poetry gives these mute images words, both trying to represent a sense of reality.  This quote is significant because it truly exemplifies how "linguistics begins to bleed over into other areas".

Charnley:


Language is the main focus topic in the 2nd chapter. Parini discusses how language is used in poetry to create meaning and to communicate with the reader, ‘...language offers tools for picking at reality, for dislodging shards of meaning, allowing us to communicate with one another...’.(Parini 27)This quote expresses that poetry isn't just a recreation of an image or an idea, it takes apart the picture and analyses every piece and finds a deeper meaning in seemingly ordinary objects or events.

Parini then goes on to start relating paintings to poetry, ‘ Painting and poetry have something in common, in that they attempt to represent reality in certain intensified ways.’ ( Parini pg 33 ) The way in which to completely different arts using completely different methods can reach a common goal. The relationship between poetry and art breaks down after further analysis, ‘ “ A metaphor cannot run on all four legs, “ Samual Taylor Cloeridge once said.’ ( Parini pg 33 ) The way that Colerigde expresses that a metaphor can only take you so far, the image has to be generated by the reader itself, this unlike a picture, is completely personal to the reader.


Alex Rinker:

“Poetry allows us to articulate matters of concern in such a way that they become physical, tangible, and immediate.” (Parini 25)

Parini talks about the difference between poetry and other forms of writing.  He states that poetry differs from newspaper writing because it allows the author to describe something in such detail that he essentially creates the object from the writing.  The reader, through good poetry, physically sees the image displayed before him.  I chose this quote because it shows the difference between poetry and a description in, for example, a book or magazine.  Poetry goes much more in depth as it shows the scene rather than tell about it like other forms of writing do.


“The poet quickens our sense of language, and our sense of life as well.  This is why language matters in a poem, and why poetry matters.” (Parini 38)

The last three words of this quote drew me in.  They made me think about why we read this chapter for homework.  They made me think about whether or not KOB would have chosen this chapter because of these words, or if he even based the course title from this very quote.  Either way this quote stood out because it directly answers the main question of our english class this semester.  Parini believes that poetry matters because it increases our sense of life, our being.  Through poetry we learn appreciate the world we live in.


“[A]ll real poems should be ‘short poems; it being impossible that a feeling so intense . . . should sustain itself at its highest elevation for long.’” (Parini 35)

This quote spoke to me because it is a concept that I have found to be true of my writing and most of that which I read.  I lose interest quickly when I read “short” stories that end up droning on forever with no end in sight. To maintain a reader’s interest, one must either write an engaging book, in which the reader is immersed completely in the world in which the events take place, or the author should offer a portal into a story or poem through which the reader can leap in, spend his time, and exit again after his quick exciting journey into someone else’s life. The short story must be detailed enough so the reader can enjoy his stay within the words, but it must not be so long as to keep him a prisoner between the pages for, as shown in the reading, the longer the story is, the less likely it is that the story is the most interesting it could be.


Kevin M. Hoover

“Painting is mute poetry, and poetry a speaking picture”
- Simonides of Ceos

According to Parini, we cannot actually write in pictures, and thus the comparison is wrong, but he takes it far too literally. What is meant by the quote is that poetry describes the things that be through words, while painting attempts to imitate the world through visual replication.

"Makers of tables and beds simply imitate the idea of
things, whereas the artist has another avenue of approach,
that of 'turning a mirror round and round'"
-Plato

This quote says that while most people try to copy things that other people have already done, an poet, or any other artist, makes a new creation every time, because as the mirror turns, the picture constantly changes. Additionally, while craftsmen follow instructions to recreate what has been done before, the artist makes an exact depiction of everything within the mirror at that moment

"...all real poems should be 'short poems; it being impossible
a feeling so intense... should sustain itself at its highest
elevation for long'"
-John Stuart Mill

In my opinion, the quote is saying that only a short poem can sustain the great passion that most people look for when reading poetry, because in a longer poem, the feeling will begin to die down. Thus, passion can be expressed far better in short bursts than in long, rambling epics.




Benfu Zhu:
Jay Parini argues that the people have the ability to express themselves in words mark the true distinction between the humans and animals. He then concludes his thought into one sentence the ¨language is, then, a property of the species, and unique to it¨(31). The ability to talk to people makes us a unique species on earth, a true human being. But there are some distinctions in the use of language. The poetic language draws a true distinction between the daily take and even the prose because the poetics voice and the metaphor use in the poetry. Furthermore, a poet´s originality depends on a deep understanding of the nature. So, why a human being is unique compared to the animal, because he or she has the gift to dig out the true beauty of the nature and speak and even write about it. The poetry has the power of open mind to the nature and transforms lives. Poetry indeed matters.


Andrew Fazekash:

Prefacing this quote, Jay Parini says how M.H. Abrams said “The Lucretian theory that language began as a spontaneous expression of feeling”(Parini 34), and thus, the original meaning of language and words was, by nature abstract. This quotation gives more meaning to how poets continue to preserve the roots of language in their works:

“Poets consistently attempt to return words to their original sense; this is one of the most vivid functions of poetry: to refresh language by drawing words back into alignment with their original pictorial, concrete, and metaphorical associations.” (Parini 37)

This quote struck me as interesting because, in general, people assume that the original meaning of a word is what one might find in a dictionary. However, this Lucretian theory that Parini elaborates on in this quotation gives a different perspective to the origin of words. This shows that language truly evolved as an abstract art, and the precision obsessed world of today has mutilated language so that it more nearly is associated with definition rather than the context of the word. “Poets really love the ‘possibilities of context’”(Parini 40). This concentration on the mere “context” of each word is how poets attempt to bring words to their original, more “tangible” and abstraction form of expression; the true meaning of each word. This theory shows us why poetry is written. To preserve language in its purest form; abstract and “pictorial”(Parini 37), just how each word is inherently meant to be perceived.



Maddy Stoopack:

“Poetry both creates “new materials of knowledge“ and “engenders in the mind a desire to reproduce and arrange them according to a certain rhythm and order in which may be called beautiful and the good“ (Parini 16)
In Chapter One, Parini essentially what poetry is- a replication and interpretation of reality. I chose this quotation because it ties in all of Parini’s thoughts to one phrase, summarizing the meaning and process of creating poetry.

When discussing the process of places thoughts into words and words into sentences, Parini says, “...if something cannot be formulated in language, it remains beyond thought, or possibly beyond consciousness, unmediated and unrealized“ (Parini 26) All thoughts go unrealized unless the poet is capable of forming words from thoughts and combining words producing syntactically well-formed sentences.

“Poets consistently attempt to return words to their original sense; this is one of the most vivid functions of poetry: to refresh language by drawing words back into alignment with their original pictorial, concrete, and metaphorical associations“ (Parini 37).
Before I read this, I thought that poets simply wrote and had no intentions, but Parini made me realize (with this quote) that poets DO use the true meanings of words. The words chosen depict images that only that word can create. I like this passage because I learned something new and will have this thought in my head when reading poetry instead of just reading to read.   


Marissa Perrett:

Parini quoting Richard Rorty.
“Language offers tools for picking at reality, for dislodging shards of meaning, thus allowing us to communicate with one another in practical ways. It provides a means for coping with the world as we find it” and “One creates reality through languages” (Parini 27).  Languages are what makes humankind unique. It’s a
the way of communication. Without languages, humans would not have been able to share discoveries, ideas, innovations, or establish relationships.

“The poems, and its language, draws the sense to a fine point, to a pitch of expression....Ideally, it returns us to our deepest concerns, our most intense and original feelings” (Parini 36).
“What will vary from poem to poem is the method used to intensify or heighten the language” (Parini 35). These quotes go together. Language is the foundation of poetry, without which poetry cannot be created. The arrangement of words are to express emotions, tell a story, or send a message. The intensity of the poem is determined by the way language is used.

12 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Matt: I really like your second quote. It's amazing how true your insight is when you write, "Yet there are an infinite feelings you can make someone feel. There is an infinite number of stories you can tell." The dictionary is only so thick, and of all the words in the English language, I might know about 1/2 of them and only use about 1/10 of them in day to day language. Yet with these limited words, I can successfully portray any idea, feeling, picture or emotion that I want to. That's a good quotes and well explained.

    Charnley: I like the quote you picked by Richard Rorty. In your analysis, you wrote that poetry "takes apart the picture and analyzes every piece and finds a deeper meaning." I couldn't agree with you more. The language in poetry creates a want to dig deeper and explore further into the poem. Poetry and language very closely relate to nature. Good analysis.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Kevin: I thought that you interpreted the first quotation exactly like I did. Your wording is a bit confusing, but I understood the overall gist of your interpretation.
    For the second quotation, I don't necessarily think that the mirror is showing pictures that constantly change, but instead showing objects as they appear and being transformed or interpreted for what they are. The artist is creating what he sees, precisely. The portion of the quotation that you used sort of confused me, but I understand what you're saying. I don't think epics are exactly rambling, but the length is necessary in order to get a plot or point across. You really understood the meanings of the quotations that you chose. Good job!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Brandon: I love your opinion and insight, specifically when you say "Though we were not alive 200 years ago, our generation learns from those that were alive and builds upon their knowledge. Language allows humans to share ideas and continue moving forward." Personally I do not agree or see eye to eye with most of what the book has to say about language, but I appreciate your practical example of language and its roles in society. ALSO love the connection to the limited resources we have to make technology, and I believe its interesting to think that we, Earthlings, have the same amount of stuff here on Earth we did centuries ago, yet we have manipulated and transformed it into advancements far beyond other generations' uses.


    Andrew: Your connection to language, more specifically words, and art really made me think. I agree with you on your suggested views that the life we all live in now is very cut and paste, in that we do not take time to do things for the fun of it, but rather because we need to. All together, I enjoy the idea that words preform best when reverted back to their original state, like what you said when you wrote "language truly evolved as an abstract art, and the precision obsessed world of today has mutilated language so that it more nearly is associated with definition rather than the context of the word."

    ReplyDelete
  5. Andrew: I completely agree with you. Over the years, we have used words so often to describe many things until the word becomes associated with something other than it was originally intended. The true context of many of our words has been lost into the abyss of habit that we humans have created, and it is only through poetry that we can begin to recover the true meanings of words.

    Kevin: I agree and disagree with you. I first of all disagree with your idea on Parini's interpretation of the quote. I think he did believe it meant that painting was different than poetry and vice versa. I do agree with your ideas on the quote. I also believe that he is trying to say that painting and poetry, while they both describe things in the world we live in, are two very different things. They are so alike, and yet so different.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Alex: I thoroughly agree with the various comments you made regarding Parini's thoughts."Poetry goes much more in depth as it shows the scene rather than tell about it like other forms of writing do." - I agree with this statement; it elaborates on how much more extensive the element of imagery is in poetry over other forms of literature. I think this statement, that "through poetry we learn appreciate the world we live in," has the most truth to it out of all the statements you developed here. Poetry does, in fact, provide greater meaning to otherwise overlooked events of life.

    Josh: I very much see where your response is coming from. However, I'd encourage you to take it just a step further. How exactly do paintings correspond to poetry? For example, is each brush stroke a word? I really like where you were going with your analysis, but it left me with a desire for more comparisons. On another note, I do like how you came full circle by making the connection that "linguistics begins to bleed over into other areas" just like how painting is an expression of words just as poetry is.

    ReplyDelete
  7. marissa: i really like how you explain how language can really be used to connect us in ways other species cannot, that was parinis message. Again in your second quote you touch on everything i felt parini was trying to touch on, even his defense of poets in the first chapter, poets are not silly wordsmiths but rather masters of language

    Maddy: you also use Parini's quotes to recall back to his first chapter and to show the actual depth of poetry yourself. You also caused me to come to the same realization that poets do not change words for their meaning but rather switch and rearrange words and tones to show different feelings and inflections. This conclusions both emulated the ideas of parini and the men he quoted.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Matt: I really liked when you said, "Yet there are an infinite feelings you can make someone feel. There is an infinite number of stories you can tell." No matter how developed our vocabulary is, you can still create these infinite feelings and stories. Just because your vocabulary may be limited does not mean that you have to limit putting those words the into use. Good job Matt!

    Marissa: That's very true, language and poetry definitely compliment each other. I liked the quote "Without languages, humans would not have been able to share discoveries, ideas, innovations, or establish relationships." It is truly hard to fathom what the world would be like if we didn't have language to help develop our world or if we would still even exist. Good job Marissa!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Marrissa: I completely agree with you. And actually this is what I'm talking about in my comment about Parini. If we do not have language, then there is no difference between we as human and animals. Language makes ourselves unique. And poets. Oh, poets. They are the people who master the language and transform the words into a power tool to reveal the nature.

    Alex: Again, I completely agree with you. As I have stated, the poets are the master of the word. They are unique since they are the "legislators of the unacknowledged world". Poets do, in fact, have the ability to discover the nature and then write about it. Thus, poetry connects the nature but magazine article does not.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Brandon i like how you used the quote “‘How comes it that human beings, whose contacts with the world are brief and personal and limited, are nevertheless able to know as much as they do know?’” (Parini 29). I like how you tied this in with the devolpment of language through communication, also i like how this can be tied in with the development of language itself. The way language has developed over the years, and vocabulary has improved has been a major factor in passing information from one generation to another. I really like how you have derived this from this statement.



    Kevin i like the quote “Painting is mute poetry, and poetry a speaking picture”

    - Simonides of Ceos. However, i think the quote is playing on the fact that 'mute poetry' is poetry without emotion. Pictures can create emotions, but in a different way to poetry. Poetry also does use pictures but these pictures are conjured by the reader and are unique to every person. I do like how you have interpreted this, and created two unique art froms, poetry and pictures.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Comments from Charnley:

    Brandon i like how you used the quote “‘How comes it that human beings, whose contacts with the world are brief and personal and limited, are nevertheless able to know as much as they do know?’” (Parini 29). I like how you tied this in with the devolpment of language through communication, also i like how this can be tied in with the development of language itself. The way language has developed over the years, and vocabulary has improved has been a major factor in passing information from one generation to another. I really like how you have derived this from this statement.



    Kevin i like the quote “Painting is mute poetry, and poetry a speaking picture”

    - Simonides of Ceos. However, i think the quote is playing on the fact that 'mute poetry' is poetry without emotion. Pictures can create emotions, but in a different way to poetry. Poetry also does use pictures but these pictures are conjured by the reader and are unique to every person. I do like how you have interpreted this, and created two unique art froms, poetry and pictures.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Thanks for writing such a good article, I stumbled onto your blog and read a few post. I like your style of writing...
    Tobacco Machinery

    ReplyDelete