Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Philosophy of poetry

Doubtfulness is an obstinate desire to find truth. Doubting is a means of examining validity. Reality as perceived by the senses is something a rationalist takes for granted as fundamentally true. We may safely call it an axiom. The external world by this definition is an axiom. Doubts arise when a subject of contention is not known with complete certainty.

Philosophers have strong leanings towards abstract phenomena. The more abstract a subject the more of imagination and visualization it demands. A philosopher theorizes with a curious motive of intellectual satisfaction. Relevance and practical value of his theories need not bother him the least bit. He is different from the metaphysician in the sense that he is rendered more realistic. Many metaphysicians in many ways are apt to doubt the reality of the external world. The invisible world very interestingly appeals to his fancies the way number theory appeals to a serious mathematician. The former remains unverified unlike the latter. The very many concepts in metaphysics cannot be perceived by the senses. The doctrine of illusion receives tremendous attention by metaphysicians.

Philosophic doubts differ from metaphysical ones. The nature of phenomena and things concern the philosopher. The ultimate questions generic in content get addressed by him. If one views philosophy as just an extension of science, Logic and analysis play a crucial part in discovering the nature of truth and ultimate reality. If any assertion is beyond it then it is likely to be ignored.

Now I wish to discuss the branch of aesthetics affected by philosophy. I will have to move away from hard-core philosophy subjects in order to contemplate its relevance to literature (aesthetics). The ultimate questions such as the concept of imagination, theories of consciousness and literature’s explicit philosophical implications will be addressed. These questions form the philosophic doubts which creep up in literature. It is aesthetics that will be analyzed and not so much the aesthetic impacts. Value of literature is determined by its rich flavor of stylistic grace. The impact is secondary but essential for mass popularity. This will not prove of any vital importance to the literary or philosophical analyst.

By not restricting the analysis to critical appreciation I shall have gone to the transitory stage where literary or poetic work of art cuts across the border-line of philosophical investigations.

A poetic movement is in its own way as charming and significant as the poem itself. Nature and type characterize cult. Poetry itself mirrors imaginative aspirations fulfilled in imaginary worlds. Such a fulfillment may be fictitious. Nevertheless, it is fulfillment.

An inspired poem as a narrative happens unconsciously and any attempt to cater to another state of mind and not the poet’s will render it artificial. Indeed, editing is more apt at the conscious level as the constraints of grammar constantly keep an inspired activity under check. Editing involves being conscious of grammar. The end-readers constitute the audience and the interests of the end-readers vary depending on their tastes and wave-length. Grammar is less prone to change or dynamism than human interests. A study of syntax develops as much an understanding of the form of prose as rhyme schemes do of poetry.

Free language like free thought sustains independence and cannot be governed.
Poetry in free language and thought reveals emotions as figurative realities beyond the grasp of the rational. Therefore it is no wonder if it happens to have idiosyncrasies when we view it grammatically. Grammar is prescriptive while language in its free form is neither descriptive nor prescriptive but relative. Communication of thought must keep in mind the standards and levels of knowledge of the end-reader which it hopes to inform. Here the end-reader is the constraint. A language-expert need not be a good communicator. Somebody who communicates well necessarily cannot analyze the dynamics of language the way a language-expert is expected to do.

Philosophic doubts and literary and language ones converge at a point of enquiry. Doubt undoubtedly marks the beginning of all inquiry. There is no such thing as relevance of doubt. It is irrelevant undoubtedly. In-fact it is more normal than a conclusion. A conclusion is important but it involves the highest degree of risk and responsibility. Conclusions about poetry and prose as literary forms involve delving into forms with romantic intensity. In prose, form precedes essence. In poetry essence exists in the form of form. Essence is the form. Essence and form merge in poetry like no other literary-form observed.

It is important for prose to adhere to some level of grammatical level-headedness if we suppose that prose is direct in presentation.
The content is free of choice. There can be no limits to content. Human comprehension may be limited but imagination beats limitation.

By Ajay Seshadri

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