January 2009 Archives

A String Of Pearls

Bethany Bouchard
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“There is no ‘literary’ device - metonymy, synecdoche, litotes, chiasmus and so on - which is not quite intensively used in daily discourse,” (Eagleton 5).

Like pearls on a string, one right after another the words came. Though in English, they seemed to foreign to me, so distant. However, I chose only to define one of them; I didn’t want to take all the good words.

“Metonymy is a trope which substitutes the name of an entity with something else that is closely associated with it,” (Hamilton 41).

When I looked this up, I felt a little ridiculous because this word, “metonymy,” had already been highlighted in my book, which obviously meant we had gone over it to some extent, though perhaps only briefly, in EL150. After further consideration of the matter, I decided it wasn’t so bad because not everyone will remember everything, and this is just something that did not stick with me. It’s not like I use this word in my everyday vocabulary, and a refresher is always a good thing to do. No worries.

“…The Lover cannot kiss, his love will always be fair,” (Austin 53).

The above interpretation of a line in Keats’s poem, “Ode to a Grecian Urn,” would suggest, as the age-old saying goes, that Lover cannot have his cake and eat it, too. In this case, kissing his maiden would be relational to the eating of the cake, whereas keeping his love “fair” by not kissing her would be the having of his cake. If he eats his cake he doesn’t have it anymore. If the Lover kisses his maiden, he could risk destroying the comfortable relationship he shares with her. And so, like the analysis and critique of this poem taken on in Austin’s essay, it goes around and around in a never-ending circle, or what-ifs, what-if-nots, could’ves, should’ves, would’ves. Decisions, decisions, but what to do? Would he rather eat his cake and enjoy it while still in the prime of life, or not risk ruining a good thing, even though, perhaps, enjoying it instead of preserving it could turn out to be so much better? It is possible that it exactly the question Keats was trying to raise from his readers.

“The emotion of art is impersonal,” (Eliot 6).

Poetry, or rather, art of any kind, may possess any number of aspects about itself and may be called many things, but “impersonal” is definitely not one of them. Art is the expression of a feeling or emotion, or a vast range of such, that is created by a human being. Coming from a human being, and therefore having been invested with the human emotions of its creator, there is something to be said on the subject. Art is extremely personal. It is not only personal to its creator, but can become personal or meaningful to someone who experiences it. The artist puts a part of themselves into their creation, because without that part of themselves, the art would be lacking in passion and personality. It would be meaningless, and the audience would have difficulty relating to it. The emotion that goes into the art comes from a personal part of the artist, a part that the artist is willing to share and give to the world by expressing it in their art.

"...It at least has the advantage of suggesting that 'literature' may be at least as much a question of what people do to writing as of what writing does to them," (Eagleton 6).

This passage captured my attention and gauged my interest the most out of any in this slightly dry and drawn-out introduction. It had me at "Dogs must be carried on the escalator." It was hilarious to think people might actually take the sign literally. Of course, it most likely means if a person is traveling with a dog, then one must carry it when on board the escalator, probably as a safety precaution. However, just like any other phrase or word in the English language, that sign could be interpreted at least one other way, if not several ways. Someone taking the sign literally could read it as if one wishes to ride the escalator, he or she must carry a dog on the escalator in order to do so. Now, that sounds just ridiculous, but that would be hysterically funny if the sign did, indeed, mean exactly that. Not only can we be affected by writing, but writing can be affected by "what we do to it," how we interpret it, and how we twist the author's original intent or meaning.