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  1. JavaMan
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    JavaMan Senior Member

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    The "Hook" Within a Poem

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by JavaMan, Apr 7, 2009.

    In Poe's book "The Philosophy of Composition," he explicitly states that the sole province of the poem is the creation of the effect of beauty. The question is, naturally, "What is Beauty?"

    It is my opinon that Beauty would naturally be the main hook of the poem - or of any similar literary work. Or, perhaps, the opposite side of the Beauty not mentioned (creating a duality, tension, and hopefully release - but that's a different topic!)

    These considerations have lead me, with a bit of study of psychoanalysis, Fruedian and Jungian, that the only real Beauty worth mentioning is that asscociated, metaphorically or otherwise, with a person's ideal lover. As a matter of fact, Poe himself said something along the same lines. The meter must be as the heartbeat of the passion as such as one in the presence of the object of passion. The rime and diction must be relative to a person's idea of ego and non-ego.... by that mean how we (cognitively) express interest in our love.

    But the essential point is that this Beauty - lover - need not be another person. Perhaps it's the drug of choice, the reader's archtypical god, a fixation (heathy or not), a first girl/boyfriend... I hope that you get the idea...:)

    So the question is, how do you define the "hook" of a literary work? Is there one at all?
     
  2. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    ...there should be one, naturally, or else why would people want to read it?... but first of all, are you still asking about a poem?... there are many other kinds of 'literary works' so the question needs to be clarified before i can give you an answer, as the hook for a novel will not necessarily be the same as for a poem...

    ...as for 'beauty' only referring to a lover or one's equivalent, that's just plain silly, imo... what about the beauty of a sunset, or a pond, or the sight of a child's first smile?

    ...and what does 'beauty' have to do with a 'hook'?...

    ...btw, i'm a full-time poet, among other things and i mentor writers of all breeds, so am always aware of the presence [or lack] of a 'hook' in all written works that require one...
     
  3. JavaMan
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    JavaMan Senior Member

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    As for questioning my point, I think that you've proved it, Mammamaia! The reason why I mentioned psychoanalysis is that what beauty you deem is beautiful is such because of the "effect" it creates (to use Poe's word).

    I'm sorry - maybe I wasn't clear. I just don't see how anyone would not equate beauty with, as you said, "a lover or one's equivalent." I don't have a dictionary (if it's nessicary) in front of me, but I thought that those things you mentioned would be equated to "a lover or one's equivalent." :)

    The reason why beauty is the hook is because (in my poor terminology) the effect of beauty - bliss, happiness, acutalization, etc. - it is the only definate reason for wanting to do anything at all.

    It's a given though, that one person's object or person of love is another's bad choice.
     
  4. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    i still don't see how a sunset, a flower, or a pond can be considered the equivalent of a 'lover'... i must be missing something...
     
  5. JavaMan
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    JavaMan Senior Member

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    I did not want to say this initially, but I suppose that I've been left no other choice. Forgive me, Cognito!

    To be *very* family -rated, I'll say that such sights or ideas, as you have stated them, can create a release of libido. The idea of a "lover" was metaphorical. To be honest, I thought that I had already stated that. :)
     
  6. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    okay, are you trying to say that observing or reading about anything that is 'beautiful' will produce something akin to a person 'getting off' sexually?... if so, then your use of of the term 'lover' didn't make that point, sorry to say...
     
  7. sophie.
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    sophie. Contributing Member

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    If a poem/story/novel doesn't 'hook' me withing the first few lines, I stop reading. (I have a crappy attention span though!)

    Sometimes I will go back and take another look, in case I missed something; but everything that you read has to have a hook to make you keep going, otherwise it's pointless and isn't working.

    The 'hook' is hard to define, as this will vary from reader to reader. For example, if I click on a poem and it begins 'your dreamy eyes swim with love' or some such smaltz, I close it quickly. That's a bad example but you get my point, it depends on what you enjoy reading..so science fiction sends me to sleep, but it has thousands of avid fans.
    I'm not really making a proper point (no 'hook' here!) but in answer to your Q, yes there must be a hook, and in my opinion it's indefinable.

    Interesting question :)
     
  8. Castlesofsand
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    Castlesofsand Banned

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    i hate the term 'hook' when used in poetry. i understand what you are talking about, what draws the eye. you seem to be trying to find out what would be a hook.

    the hook is the story, and how it is told. you can have the secret to eternal life in a book and if its on page two and the story is badly written, well ain't nobody ever gonna know.

    the hook is the characters, if you can't emotionally bond with a character, the stories not going to mean much to you, who cares where so-and-so is going...not me.

    the hook is the setting, if you can't place a reader at the scene then they only have a dictation of notes/actions in a dark room, sure you know what's going on, but you can't see a damn thing to give a damn.

    i think that's the hook, its not a single enity, its a complete story/poem/novel

    just my thoughts
     
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  9. JavaMan
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    JavaMan Senior Member

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    No Mammamaia.

    I meant the Fruedian idea of libido - which, beleive it or not encompasses alot more than what you have mentioned. Put excessivly simplistically, a good feeling or psychological energy.
     
  10. pacmansays
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    pacmansays Senior Member

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    Wasn't psychoanalysis disproven as a credible theory of psychology years ago and now neurobiology is what is perceived to be true?

    Anyway, some of my poems have a hook and some don't, but when I do write a hook it's mainly for me to know. I don't like people to grasp my poems unless they've given it a proper look and broken it down.

    Several of my poems are about insanity and serial killers and often the hook is quite the opposite of beauty in my opinion
     
  11. JavaMan
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    JavaMan Senior Member

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    In a certain sense, that's true, Pacman, but not completely. Using the psychoanallytic method by itself is an old story. what you call the neurobiological method (I'm supposing you mean the use of prescribed drugs) is often used with key psychoanalytic methods such as hypnosis within the doctor's office. The core ideas of Jung and Freud, such as archeytpes and the division of the mind into the id, ego, and superego, are still the basis of the practice of psychiatry - along with the medicines.
     
  12. WrongWriter
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    WrongWriter Banned

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    What a "hook" is and how it works varies a lot. It's really hard to distinquish from "it works". If it doesn't "work", we weren't "hooked", were we.

    It's interesting to examine some other genres in this regard.
    Some formal poetry creates a chorus that is the "hook", in the same way that the chorus couplet of "Honky Tonk Women" by the Rolling Stones does. Repitition, beat, and being a dynamite line that gets tastier each time it comes back around.
    The classic example might be the villanelle... and the classic villanelle having the hook, "Do not go gentle into that good night
    Fight, fight, against the dying of the night."
    That's about as hooky as it gets and it's stood up over a long time.

    Another oldie but goodie: "She walks in beauty like the night." It slams you right off the bat and everything else is just paler service to that one line.
    Another Stones analogy, the first two bars of "Satisfaction". Or, for that matter, Cream's "Sunshine of Your Love". You're hooked immediately.

    So other than the implicit, if flaky, suggestion that you can become a better poet by listening to more Classic Sixties Rock stations, the idea is that hooks are where you cast them, not a formulae thing.

    And don't forget about the line and sinker
     
  13. Kursal
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    Kursal Senior Member

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    I think the 'hook' in a poetic sense is largely esoteric. Of course there will be elements that draw a person to a particular work but that is often transient and open to interpretation.

    I think the basic premise is incorrect.
     
  14. lynneandlynn
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    lynneandlynn Contributing Member

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    You have an interesting way of interpreting things, but I don't think that Poe meant that the only beauty worth mentioning has to be associated with an ideal lover. "heartbeat of the passion as such as one in the presence of the object of passion"--the way you've interpreted it, you've assumed that passion has to refer to sexual attraction/libido. The thing is...you can be passionate about anything and not have an ounce of sexual attraction towards it. For example, writing is a passion for a lot of people...it doesn't mean we feel any sort of sexual feelings towards writing...just that we're passionate about the art. Your interpretation (in my opinion) leaves a lot to be desired.

    Beauty is defined only be the beholder...it can't be defined as a collective. What I find beautiful, you may find disturbing or wrong, and vice versa.

    As for hooks in poetry...most of the time it's the first two lines. If they don't 'catch you' and 'draw you in,' then you probably aren't going to bother with the rest of the poem. The lines have to invoke strong emotion and imagery and lack the full-on cliche feeling that a lot of newer poets use (such as "your love is like a rose..." which is over-used).

    ~Lynn
     
  15. JavaMan
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    JavaMan Senior Member

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    Lynn, and others, good points! But in my own defense, I did say "metaphorically" at several points. It is not my intention to make poetry with the idea that the physical act of making love as the only real hook, if that idea is to be used at all. Perhaps I was not clear with my definitions, but, if you re-read this topic, you'd see that I did mention other things, such as "the drug of choice" as one's personal idea of beauty. The reason why I mentioned libido in the Fruedian sense is that there are many things "which gets a person off," as Mx4 said, without being, or seeming to be, sexual in the physical sense at all.

    For example, your own signature would be my definition of a hook.

    There are, obviously, countless methods and definitions - connotations and denotations - of any expression - in this case words - used, and I'll admit that they will be differant for each reader. I accept that as part of the difficulty. My general aim is to tailor each poem to a specific personality type, complex, form of actualization.....etc...etc....etc... lol!

    I'm not being some kind of pervert here - I'm equating beauty to the effect of being in the presence of the loved. I did say that it need not be another person.

    Just thought I'd clear that up....no worries!:D

    After all, how can something beautiful, not be loved? :confused:
     
  16. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    easy... a nuclear bomb's mushroom cloud is a thing of beauty, but considering what it is, how could one love it?
     
  17. JavaMan
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    JavaMan Senior Member

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    Nice to see you back, Mamma!

    I find it interesting that you quoted my question, but, instead of answering it, you gave me one.

    I'll say that I don't know exactly how a person could love a mushroom cloud. I'm sure you would get some very intrigueing answers if you asked the right person - a military psychologist or perhaps a socialpathic meglomaniac. Personally, I don't know. However, I'd like to see your suggestion being that you did say that it was beautiful.

    I get the feeling that some of us may be confusing absolute and subjective/relative definitions of the word.....
     
  18. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    i find it normal, since i'm a practicing philosopher, and that's what we do... asking a question is how we make people give some serious thought to a serious subject...

    the question was obviously a rhetorical one, so wasn't intended to be answered directly... the normal response to it would be, 'it can't'... which of course is not an explicit answer...
     
  19. JavaMan
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    JavaMan Senior Member

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    Forgive me... but how is it that philosophers ask questions, but never answer them? Maybe your school of "philosophy" is sophistry, being that you just use words that appeal - don't worry - as an aspiring writer myself, I understand it's benifits as well as it's limitations.


    You talk of yourself being a rhetorictian - good for fiction writing and the like, but not for honest debate. Personally, I always thought that a simple question deserved a simple answer.... but oh well..

    As for the 'normal' response: Have you ever read a Tom Clancy book?
    "The Hunt for Red October" was made into a popular movie some years back. Should I suggest that it was a best-selling book as well as a box office smash? I remember that it was shown on cable for many years.....;)
     
  20. Henry The Purple
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    Henry The Purple Active Member

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    In my humble opinion, she answered your question as best as humanly possible.
     
  21. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    If you ever find yourself basing your reasoning on Freud, you should probably stop. It was acceptable in the 80's (*dances...stop himself...resumes serious discussion*) but virtually all of his theories have been dismissed within the realm of modern psychology and literary criticism. His theories achieved fame de to their rather literary nature (and the fact that he was a convincing writer, asanyone who has read his books will know) but as tools for literary analysis, they are as useful as ... well, y'know. You can literally interpret any piece of writing any way you want to thanks to Freud (everything is a manifestation of sexual desire; if youcant find eveidence of a particular emotion, its because its being repressed; etc). And if you still need convincing, just read 'The Meaning and Importance of Fiary Tales' by Bettelheim. Spoiler warning: his Freudian interpretation of Cinderella replaces Cinderella's foot with a phallus, and the glass slipper....I'll leave that to your imagination. At least Freud is still good for a laugh...
     
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  22. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    As to the hook, it is simply the writer's style. Does the writer write in a way that keeps you reading? An interesting idea is never enough - even the most perfect plot can be easily butchered in the hands of an inadequate writer. 'Beauty', so far as it can be used to describe a literary work, is an emotional and aesthetic response - is the writer's style captivating/interesting/amusing/emotive/evocative/etc . . . and is what they're saying resonating with you, producing an emotional response. As such, beauty is always a very subjective thing andvirtually impossible to unanimously recognise. I'd hazard that the finest of the works of Shakespeare (but by no means all) may come closest to this of the works inthe Western Literary epistem.
     
  23. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    Oh, one more thing: that Bettelheim work I mentioned? It swept the book awards the year it was released. Literary criticism has come a long, long way. (*shamelessly plugs Brian Boyd's new release 'On The Origins of Stories' - using darwinian evolutionary psychology and evolutionary literary criticism, Boyd explains why humans are compelled to create stories, how this adaptation evolved and what studying writing in this way can reveal. His case studies are Horton Hears a Who by Dr Seuss and The Odyssey by Homer. Extremely important reading. shameless plug ends*)
     
  24. JavaMan
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    JavaMan Senior Member

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    That's quite a nice peice of information. But, if it's true, why are Frued's theories still being taught in schools of higher education? I still have several of my psychology textbooks from my college days of about four years ago....

    Also, I don't think a person learned of the psychological method would interpret a peice of writing in any way thanks to Freud. Freud was a determinist - the more modern views of, say, humanism and post-modernism did not exist - for the most part- back then. Freud beleived that the human psyche is a "closed system," which in my opinon mean that every case must be taken 'as it is'.

    Last thing - as for Bettelheim, I think it is a bit.... ironic.... that he would be using Freudian theories to analyze what is, by definition, an extensively Jungian topic. Fairy tales are a Jungian speciality because they deal with the same themes over and over - such as princesses, wolves, magic, etc. Archetypes - not repressed desires.

    One more thing for FYI - Freud did not beleive that everything was a manisfestation of sexual desire. It is a common pop psycholgist's mistake to equate the word "libido" only with sexual desire. Freud beleived that all human desire and energy were fundamentally based on three things - sex, self protection/eating/etc. and agression. Any single one of those things, or in combination, would be considered libido in the clinical sense - even up to today by those who follow that particular model...
     
  25. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    Jung's analysis of archetype doesn't have to contradict a Freudian analysis, nor does it rule one out. It's entirely possible to perform a Freudian analysis on a fairy tale, as Bettelheim does. The fruits of such an analysis, however...

    And since I'm an English Lit major, not a Psych, I guess I can't really contest the validity of your textbooks. I'm just saying that in terms of Freudian literary analysis, my lecturers (some of whom double as scientists) urge us to dismiss Freud's theories as completely ridiculous and a waste of time considering modern psychoanalytical theories are much more accurate. From the information I have been given, from what I can only assume are reliable sources (ie my professors), Freud frequently misdiagnosed his patients, fabrcated data to support his theories and, in the words of one critic, set psychology back 100 years.
     
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