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April 23, 2009

Marjorie Garson on "Ode"

I managed to seperate Marjorie Garson's essay Bodily Harm: Keats's Figures in the "Ode on a Grecian Urn" into four categories.

The Urn: "...an art object that, liberated from the exigencies of history, at once embodies and laments the permanent paradoxes of the human condition..."(453)
"The urn's seamless surface tends to conceal that it is constructed of historical materials--made up of fragments of an appropriated culture..."(454)
The question: From your reading of "Ode" do you suppose Keats used one urn or a collection of several to compose his poem?
(Sue Myers's blog contains links to the actual vases mentioned in Garson's essay)

The Politics: "The history of their acquisition is not irrelevant to a reading of his ode. From the middle of the 17th century, the stones of Greece had become increasingly vulnerable to souvenir-hunters."(454)
"The English appropriated Greek culture and the ideal of Greekness in a highly selective and oppertunistic way, making it serve social and cultural ends that were in the widest sense thoroughly political."(458)
"He envisaged the exhibition doing for him what it was widely believed to do for English art and architecture as a whole--stimulating a new age of creativity."(455)
The question: Do you think it appropriate that nations removed pieces of antiquity?

The Poet: "Ian Jack concluded that Keats probably drew on a number of museum-pieces that he had seen, or seen drawings of, and constructed a composite ideal urn from their details."(454)
"The painter Benjamin Hayden, who introduced Keats to the exhibition--where he was more than once seen..."(455)
The question: Do you feel that Keats had any objection to the removal of antiquities from their place of origin?

The Poem: "The poem, then, is written not in a historical vacuum, but in the face of a national act of appropriation that seemed to promise England benefits not only spiritual but also material, nd in the context of a political debate of which Keats was fully aware."(455)
"The poem does not really want to know what men or gods these are, for any archaeological answer would defeat the claim to universality upon which it bases its own appropriation of Greekness. It poses its questions so that they are not really questions, to make sure that they are not really answered."(455)
The question: Do you think, as Garson suggests, that the poem, like the urn, is best interpreted by the unanswerability of the questions posed therein?

What others have to say on this essay...

Posted by QuinnKerno at 3:19 PM | Comments (0)

April 16, 2009

Comments on Barbara Jones Guetti's Essay

"And I would argue that what gives the urn its special status for Keats is precisely this problem: that the urn "matters" to Keats because of his ignorance about it."(386)

Guetti's essay "Resisiting the Aesthetic" suggests that the true importance of Keat's message in "Ode" is not so much linked to the known, but more the unknown. Keat's poem emits his many questions as to what he sees upon the urn, yet he is unable to understand what the urn meant to the Greeks who created it so long ago. Where one might fault Keats for his inability to relate the true significance of the urn, is in reality the one thing that makes it such a unique work. By relating what he sees and what he is incapable of knowing, Keats manages to relate the very same feeling to the reader that he had when viewing the ancient and ambiguous artifact.

More on this essay

Posted by QuinnKerno at 3:39 PM | Comments (0)

April 15, 2009

Semiology and Rhetoric

"The grammatical model of the question becomes rhetorical not when we have, on the one hand, a literal meaning and on the other hand a figurative meaning, but when it is impossible to decide by grammatical or other linguistic devices which of the two meanings (that can be entirely contradictory) prevails.(de Man 368)

Paul de Man provides an interesting analysis of the continuity between grammar and rhetoric--two literary constructs which by common definition could be considered intermittent. I felt that de Man's essay really took form when he made reference to Jaques Derrida's statement: "Confronted with the question of the difference between grammar and rhetoric, grammar allows us to ask the question, but the sentence by means of which we ask it may deny the very possibility of asking."(368) Angela Palumbo effectively approaches this portion of de Man's essay in her blog.

From de Man's essay I felt that the main issue he proposed and acknowledged was that due to the reductive nature of literary formalism and the deconstructive possibilities of any given sentence based primarily upon grammar and/or rhetoric it would seem that the delusivness found between these particular literary constructs do more to add to the exclusive potential for its success, rather than its possibility of failure.

Posted by QuinnKerno at 5:15 PM | Comments (1)