I have an ongoing literary dialogue with a friend I cannot name, although he posts comments here frequently, though he has forbidden me to quote him. I reason therefore that if I quote him without attribution I am not quoting him.
It also occurs to me that when I am blogging about literary matters, I am likely not depressed--which makes many disinterested, and though I thank you all for your support during my depression, you should take my new ability to write about things other than myself as a sign of relative health.
I have cared about poetry since a very early age; perhaps it's being the second born son that makes me feel unappreciated; perhaps it's my very lack of talent; perhaps it's the current culture; but I can't get the monkey of poetry off my back at this late stage of my life. I want to flush it, return to medicine and be "a useful engine" as Thomas the Tank advises; on the other hand, Shelley said "Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the universe." I think in this regard that philosophy, from Plato to Marx, has been much more important in legislating the universe, that Shelley obviously overestimated the importance of poets because he, too, was a manic-depressive in a fairly manic state when he wrote his essay, "In Defence of Poetry" [Poesy].
Without further ado, then, I give you a dialogue between me and one persistent literary correspondent:
Anon: The Newtonian world of Rube Goldberg contraptions, self-contained
well-oiled machines is gone, so too the closed deductive approach.
CE: I would disagree. From quantum mechanics to Ptolemy the level at which truth is perceived is not invalidated by another level; there is no more truth in quantum theory than Newton; it is just a finer representation of physics. In fact, to the average reader of poetry, there is more truth in Newton.
Anon: Every observer is a creator. After all, there is no world absent the
observer. Therefore every reader must be invited to co-create --or co-write-- the poem. If you wish to evoke a universe, you must invite
others along. The age of teachers-and-pupils is gone.
CE: Subject-object is unavoidable, despite Eliot's argument, which you endorse above, from "Tradition and the Individual Talent." But Auden threw this to the wind, as did Richard Wilbur and many others, with a narrator speaking to an audience. I would opine that no matter how much fusion is sought, a fundamental gap exists between author and reader, that the reader cannot help trying to understand what the artist intends, even if the artist claims he intends nothing. From "The Waste Land," even: "Give, sympathize, control."
Anon: If you want to 'people' your universe and seek some kind of endorsement or public imprimatur, you must attract people. To attract people, you must offer a
participatory environment. This is not currying as you say, or even laziness.
CE: All great poetry invites participation, even Milton, whose epic I will never like. When we see Eve in the garden, for instance, our sexuality is aroused, despite his Puritan profession.
Anon: By the way, you can't quote me.
CE: LOL! You have no power over this other than honor. Can I post this conversation at my blog (without attribution)?
And so I have.