EL 312: Tradition and the Individual Talent

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Poetry is not a turning loose of emotion, but an escape from emotion; it is not the expression of personality, but an excape from personality."

This quote intriges me. I have always been lead to believe that poetry is always about emotion. If a person is expressing their feelings through poetry, how are they escaping from their emotions. Is it because they are finally setting their emotions free? I can understand how personality may not play a part in any kind of work. A person who comes off as being rough and tough could write the most beautiful poetry or story. This person would be losing their rough self (escaping their personality?) to write about something gentle or something about love.
I have just always thought that poetry has always had something to do with expressing oneself and putting oneself out there so that the world can see.

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One of my favorite TV shows is Babylon 5. While the creator openly calls himself an agnostic, one of the reasons I like the show is that most of the characters (humans and aliens) have religious motives. One show featured a young monk who dies under horrible circumstances, but who likens his own suffering to the suffering of Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane. Later, the monk's abbot forgives the murderer. The TV show's lead character is shocked that the abbot would be so forgiving, and sort of ashamed that he can't be that forgiving himself.

Fans of the show chatted on the internet... did this show mean that the show's creator, an agnostic, had some sort of religious conversion? Was he starting to believe in the faith he had rejected?

The creator of the show, who also wrote the episode, answered the fans... as an experienced writer, he can create characters who have faith, and he can tell a good story that hinges on that faith, without necessarily believing in that faith. He had told equally powerful stories about aliens sacrificing themselves for their own religious beliefs, but he didn't believe in the planets where those characters were supposed to come from.

Certainly, authors write from their own experience, and perhaps this guy had at one time known faith, or he was just a keen enough observer of people around him and stories that he has read that he was able to touch that segment of the audience that appreciated a moving religious story.

But I think it's a popular myth that great authors have to express their inner emotions in order to create great art, or that the greater the emotion, the greater the art.

People with terrible voices can sing "Happy Birthday" to their children, and it will be a meaningful expression of love, even if it is full of technical errors (off-key, off-tempo, the lyrics are wrong, etc.) that would drive from the room anyone else who isn't part of the family.

The same applies to poetry, or any other medium. For example, here's a singing performance that's an expression of emotion yet is most certainly NOT good music.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bfZ_gXCHaMw

Does her (decided lack) of singing ability have anything to do with her patriotism or her political competency? No. Would she ever make it as a lounge singer if she wasn't already a political celebrity? No.

Denamarie said:

I agree with you on what I also thought poetry was. I thought that poetry was a way to express your emotions through creatively writing a piece of poetry.
I understand what Dr. Jerz is saying as well.
For example, the movie Saw was a gruesome, horrifying film that showed a sick, twisted person's thoughts and actions to try to help those that were only harming theirselves and were more fortunate than others.
The writer of that movie is probably not some cerial killer running loose on the streets.
The writer was only releasing probably some hostility or anger in a form of writing.

One of the first things Mr. Esais told us in Writing of Fiction was to write what you know. I agree with Dr. Jerz, you can write something you know about without actually believing in it.
I agree with Eliot on this one - it is both an expression of and escape from emotion. The escape comes because the emotion you write doesn't actually have to be yours.

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This page contains a single entry by published on January 28, 2007 5:47 PM.

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