February 24, 2007

Mimetic What?

"Mimetic criticism ignores the very things that make poems poems. Whatever ideology or philosophy is used to provide the standard of 'truth', none can very well account for the art of poetry, and all are inclined to seperate form and meaning, to extract the paraphrasable content of the poem and to judge that as if the poem were a philosophic treatise or a religious or economic tract....Thus, the opposition between artistic design and imitation accuracy troubles virtually all mimetic theories, and it especially troubles those with an empirical basis" (Keesey 211).

Oh wow am I going to have a hard time with this theory. All this Plato, Aristotle, and "true" talk sounds like philosophy to me...something I have never been able to "get". Freshman year I took the Honors Philosophy class (sounds more impressive than it was) and I couldn't tell you more than one basic theory of any philosopher. Heck, I was proud of myself for understanding the bed example in reference to Plato in this article.

So the mimetic critic is looking to see the "truth" in the work- how it is reflecting the "reality" of the world? Something similar? Poetry represents a "true" form of our world? I'm not sure if I buy into that idea, if I'm even close to understanding this theory. How does poetry represent the truth and, really, what is this elusive truth we are searching for? And why must a work be "real" (I've gone quotes crazy in this entry) and correspond to the reality of our world? Isn't that the fun of literature- to create anything we want? Who cares if it matches what is real in the world?

Usually I can gain a nice overview of a form of criticism through Keesey's Introductions but with this one, I'm going to need a bit (ok, a lot) of clarification.

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

Posted by VanessaKolberg at February 24, 2007 2:29 PM | TrackBack

I think that you might be getting more hung up on the idea of the philosophers than you need to. I didn't really completely understand the intro until the end when Keesey explained the basic differences between mimetic and formal forms of thought. What then am I trying to explain to you? From what I can understand of the article we are meant to look at how a poem relates to reality and whether the descriptions are "real" enough.

I've posted more about this on my blog. I have to say that I had a ton of agenda ideas for this reading, but reading your entry helped me to figure out what I really wanted to do. Thanks!

Posted by: Tiffany at February 25, 2007 10:06 AM

Here is the link to the entry I wrote after reading your blog my dear. Hope that it helps.


Posted by: Tiffany at February 25, 2007 10:39 AM

I agree with Tiffany, you are looking too much for what the philosopher's ideas, rather than searching for what is real or moral in a specific piece of literature. What is real to a piece of poetry is something that is concerned with setting up a portrait that displays something in society that was real at one time. Sure, we would like to just create things with our own imagination, but that is sometimes the easy way out, and really, our way might not be very legitimate. Instead of looking at a piece of literature and saying "shouldn't we be looking at this," we should be trying to adapt and find a criticism that we can argue to sharpen our literary skills.

Posted by: Jason Pugh at February 28, 2007 10:20 PM
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