February 25, 2007

Reality is just a part of life

Let me just say that when I began reading about mimesis I didn't completely understand where it was coming from. I understood that Keesey was trying to get us to understand that mimetic critics were very focused on finding the reality of a poem and making sure that it represented the real world in every way, however then he went on about all the philosophers. Like Vanessa I was very confused as to why he was telling us about this and then I figured out that he was just trying to get us to realize that mimesis has been around since Plato's days. When Keesey explained the differences between formal critics and mimetic critics everything just seemed to click for me. He states:

The difference between [mimesis and formalism] is often a matter of emphasis. Mimetic critics are primarily concerned to measure the poem's congruence with reality ad to judge it on that basis, but they can neither entirely overlook nor, on mimetic grounds, adequately account for the formal features of the poem that set it apart from the world of experience and from other forms of discourse. Conversely, formal critics stress the uniqueness of poetic language and the inseparability of form and content, and their analyses are designed to explicate the poem's formal coherence...So for both the formal and the mimetic critic, despite their different starting points, coherence and congruence are always necessary, but seldom easily reconcilable, principles.

As I was reading the above quote I couldn't help but think to myself, "Finally, a form of criticism that admits it has features of another type of criticism." I also couldn't help but think that Valerie would be very excited to find that there is crossover in the forms of literature.

There is a lot to the mimetic approach I am discovering. One of the funniest defenses to the approach that I found in the introduction was that Plato put down the poem as being unreal and people are using him to support the approach. I'm not so sure that Plato is agreeing with this where ever his soul might be lingering. Plato believed that the poem gave people a false sense of the world. As Vanessa stated in her entry on this introduction, Plato uses the bed reference to explain as to why he believed that people could see a false reality through art. On the other hand, Aristotle comes along and says that poetry can reveal a better image of truth because it doesn't have to worry about the constraints of history.

I think that this approach to criticism may be making the most sense to me, next to reader response. The idea that the mimesis separates coherence and congruence makes sense to me. I like that it starts with finding the reality in poems and then tries to make it fit with what we think about in the real world today. I can see how this would work well for the psychologists that Keesey talks about because finding reality and truth is what they are all about. I think that it will be interesting to see how this approach is used in the following essays.

Keesey, Ch 4 (Introduction) -- Jerz EL312 (Literary Criticism)

Posted by Tiffany Brattina at February 25, 2007 10:37 AM | TrackBack

Thanks Tiffany, for helping explain it a bit to me. I'm still a little lost, since it is mixing philosophy and literature...something I just can't get a grasp on. I actually did search for mimetic criticism online to see if I could get an even more general break-down which helped a bit. Here's a very generalized site I found: http://www.literatureclassics.com/ancientpaths/litcrit.html

Posted by: Nessa at February 25, 2007 6:22 PM

Valerie IS very happy that this form of critcism admits to a crossover. Before I asked about it Thursday, it just seemed like it was so gauche of critics to mix it up--even though most of them were mixing anyway.

I'm just about to blog on this topic, and I'm not sure what to say. But you kind of helped me pull the two apart with your quote.

Posted by: Valerie Masciarelli at February 26, 2007 7:59 PM

I'm glad I could help you both out!

Posted by: Tiffany at February 27, 2007 1:13 PM

Good point with the mention of Plato and how he put down the idea of poetry giving a sense of false reality. The biggest problem I see with Plato's ideas of reality is that not only can we represent it through poetry, we can't really represent it at all, so every attempt is futile because real reality is in a realm all beyond what we see here. An interesting concept, but I am not a fan of this approach. There must be something reality-like about our current realm of existence simply because we exist in it - so who cares about this ideal reality in which Plato's idea of a table exists? But, that was just my take.

Posted by: Lorin at March 1, 2007 6:57 AM
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