Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The need for visceral literature

I spoke of literary culture shutting down. The standard explanations for this are the distractions of the Internet, poor rudimentary education, the vanquishing of seriousness in university literature departments owing to the intellectually shallow enticements of modish subjects, and the allure of the pervasive entertainments of popular culture. Although none of these things help, literary culture is, I believe, shutting down chiefly because literature itself has become unimportant: what is being created in contemporary novels, poems and plays no longer speaks to the heart or mind. - Joseph Epstein

"If I read a book [and] it makes my whole body so cold no fire ever can warm me, I know that is poetry. If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that is poetry. These are the only way I know it. Is there any other way?" This visceral, concrete, and highly personal definition of poetry is the most fitting way to view Dickinson's own work. Whether a poem is true "poetry" does not depend for Dickinson on its use of meter, rhyme, stanzas, or line length, but on the almost physical sensation created in the reader by the poem's words, the arctic chill in the marrow of the bones or the stunning blow to the mind that the reader experiences in the act of reading. - Wendy Martin

1 comment:

  1. I agree with Joseph Epsteins' words. Literature has been waning in these modern times. And it is a sad affair because the art of literature, whether prose or verse, functions in diverse ways, one of them being that literature de-familiarizes the reader with the logical part of the mind, the part that is most used, and allows the reader to see the world in a new light. I believe this primordially is the necessity of literature. Literature functions as a beacon to society and culture that sheds light on the inner-workings of the world that surrounds us. The fact that it is dwindling is a terrible loss, one that can be stopped through education; revealing the wonders of literature to the upcoming generation.

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