Unreal Nature

September 22, 2018


Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:48 am

… It is a motion toward a point of rest, but if it is not a resisted motion, it is motion of no consequence.

This is from ‘Exploration of Value: Warren’s Criticism’ by John Hicks, found in Robert Penn Warren: A Collection of Critical Essays (1980):

… [Warren] refuses to think of a poet as a contriver of verses and images and impressive lines; or of the fiction writer as a deviser of plots and scenes and descriptions. Both have value only as explorers into hints of meaning implicit in life and personal experience. They are solvers of human problems, discoverers of vital symbols that will hold in imaginative suspension the most significant aspects of life itself:

Actually, the creation of a poem is as much a process of discovery as a process of making. A poem may, in fact, start from an idea — and may involve any number of ideas — but the process for the poet is the process of discovering what the idea … means … to him in the light of his total being and his total experience.

[line break added] Or a poem may start from a phrase, a scene, an image, or an incident which has a suggestive quality … the symbolic potential. Then the process of the poet is the process of discovering why the item has caught his attention in the first place — which is simply another way of saying that he is trying to develop the symbolic potential.

… In a superficial sense, what the author searches for is his story or poem or novel. But how will the author know that he has achieved it? Here we return to Warren’s persistent test question: What is the integrating center? What is the moral and structural focus?

… “The poet is like the jujitsu expert: he wins by utilizing the resistance of his opponent — the materials of the poem. In other words, a poem, to be good, must earn itself. It is a motion toward a point of rest, but if it is not a resisted motion, it is motion of no consequence. … [T]he good poem must, in some way, involve the resistances; it must carry something of the context of its own creation; it must come to terms with Mercutio.”

My most recent previous post from this book is here.




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