29 July 2013

The Trouble With Poets Is They Talk Too Much

  • My funmeter is pegged by the latest attempt to reconcile scientific inquiry and the arts… one that seems to make some sense, at least initially. That introductory clause should disclose the ultimate problem with the approach: The inductive/deductive frame problem... that also, one might add, keeps the Rule of Law from being coherent.
  • But then, learning about the foibles and personal failings of artists, poets, et al. can be equally, if not more, disheartening. Like this is much of a surprise: The modern cult of biography-based criticism and interpretation in the arts has so egregiously blurred the line between "the work" and "the creator of the work" by its refusal to accept that biography is at best a starting point — a context — for criticism and evaluation that one shouldn't be too surprised. The sad tale of Ezra Pound is an obvious example; more contemporarily, if neither the heights nor the depths are of the same magnitude, one finds certain contemporary science fiction films (pick one — there's more than one that fits the bill!).
  • Sarah Weinman describes much of what is wrong with the intersection between "journalism" and "publishing" in her reflexively amusing piece on an incomplete quotation of one of her reviews. It's even more reflexively amusing when one realizes that, thanks to the interface at Tumblr, one can't even create a direct link to her piece, requiring instead a search of her tagged entries for one on July 28, 2013.
  • "Johnson" amusingly attempts to rewrite Orwell's six rules for writing to be less absolutist and simultaneously blows it by failing to put "Politics and the English Language" in context... and by falling into a trap that is all too easy to fall into. "Passive voice" and "passive construction" are not the same thing; indeed, the latter is further masked by English-language artifacts, like the preceding clause of this sentence. Much of what looks like "passive voice" in isolation is merely a passive construction for emphasis within a larger structure. But then, coming from a language that doesn't just encourage split infinitives, but requires them as a grammatical rule, perhaps my perspective is a bit off...