The Early Bird Gets the Worm (Hopefully)

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From Keesey's Contexts for Criticism:

"A related problem, how to reconcile the poem's formal coherence with its mimetic function, is also made more difficult" (211).

"Thus, the opposition between artistic design and imitative accuracy troubles virtually all mimetic theories, and it especially troubles those with an empirical basis" (211).

I chose these two quotes because they are closely related.  The word empirical links you to dictionary.reference.com in case you don't know what empirical means (I didn't).

What I basically get out of these two quotes is that by adhering to literary/poetic structures and techniques the mimetic value is damaged for it is not life-like.  For example, if I were to write a sonnet about my love for my boyfriend it would be difficult critique for someone who wanted to look at it mimetically.  Of course, someone who has never been in love, or someone who has, could analyze my poem to see if my discriptions were realistic to real love.  They would, however, run into a problem when it comes to the fact that it was a sonnet.  If I were to just have a conversation about my feelings, that would be real, but nobody (I feel it's pretty safe to say) talks in sonnets.  Because I used an unrealistic poetic form to represent something that is real, it would be contradictory.  But aren't there always literary devices in literature (at least if you, as an English major, and you're digging to find it)?    

Can you still use mimetic criticism to look at a love sonnet or is it too flawed?  If you can't, what is safe to critique mimetically?

Go back to the course webpage

3 Comments

Derek Tickle said:

Based on my reading of the essay, I think that mimtic criticism applies to a poem. I believe it is through the actions that our mind goes through in order to create images which begins mimetic criticism.

I think that mimetic criticism is similar to psychological criticism because it "depends" on how that poem is written or how it is structured. We have to see the reality in the poem before we can begin mimetic criticism.

Since you said "The early bird gets the worm," then I think The Second Mouse Gets the Chesse

How do we see the reality in poetry or is it based on our reality and how we read a poem?

Derek, I think that we see the reality of any literary piece (based off of Paris's essay) by becoming the work/character. We have to completely submerge ourselves in the text and then can write about it when we reflect on our experiences while interacting with that text. By submerging ourselves in the text, we are, in actuality channeling the "ideal author" and learning and experiencing what he experienced. To learn more about the ideal author check out my blog http://blogs.setonhill.edu/mt/mt.cgi?__mode=view&_type=entry&id=30917&blog_id=455

Greta Carroll said:

What are you talking about Angela, haven’t you ever heard me talk in perfect iambic pentameter, I do it all the time. Talking in sonnets is my expertise, lol, jk. But anyway, I think that the mimetic critic could still find value in a love sonnet. They would not necessarily want to focus on the form of the sonnet though, but instead focus on the feelings in the poem. But then again, maybe the form of the sonnet is important to the mimetic critic too. I think it kind of depends. I mean the structure of the sonnet could in some ways make the expression of one’s feelings more realistic. I don’t have to actually talk in sonnets in every day speech for a sonnet to still accurately reflect by emotions. Maybe love is smooth sailing for me (thus the iambs), then all of sudden something happens and my relationship is destroyed, therefore I break the expected iambs for a few poetic feet. This would realistically show my distress at what is happening to me. Does that make sense to you?

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