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  1. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    What is "poetry"? What is "art"?

    Discussion in 'Debate Room' started by minstrel, Oct 25, 2013.

    This thread is inspired by the discussion in the Poetry section of the Workshop in the Denial thread. If anyone has anything to say about the definitions of poetry, or art in general, please discuss them here (and not in the Workshop).
     
  2. Duchess-Yukine-Suoh
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    Duchess-Yukine-Suoh Girl #21 Contributor

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    I don't think poetry has to be all grand with big words or even have a deep meaning. Poetry about simple things or poetry that only has one meaning to it is just as good.
     
  3. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Like I mentioned in that other thread, coming up with a definition of poetry everyone can agree on is next to impossible. We have to realize that our conceptions of poetry are based on poetry we've read, so a person who has only read 18th century poetry may find contemporary poetry to be off-putting.

    For me, poetry should strive to enlighten, engage, and evoke emotion. Doing one of those things means the poet is on the right track; doing two means the poem is good; but great poetry does all three.
     
  4. Dean Stride
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    Dean Stride Contributing Member

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    That is exactly the problem I have, WAC. This drive for innovation, and innovation alone, is going to be the end of the art, because people will no longer care for structure, purpose or relating to the reader, and will instead focus on creating poetry for "true" poetry's sake. Call me a conservative, but I do believe there are certain boundaries one must not breach, not because of narrow-mindedness, but because of balance.

    In nature, everything has balance. As such, human beings also have balance, and finding that balance in culture is especially important. Of course there will always be the new replacing the old with the potential of bringing something different to the table, and I'm all for that, but at least the table is still there. When you forsake the basic of principles for the sake of innovation, you break the equilibrium. Innovation is no guarantee for quality, as I would firmly assert in this case.

    I don't know if I would find Ginsberg's "Howl" off-putting if I was born in that period, but I have my doubts it would happen. Geo Milev's "September", while not as radical as Ginsberg's, still broke quite a few traditions in Bulgarian poetry, yet was critically acclaimed. Still, he was shot (because of his beliefs, mostly conveyed through his poems), but his poems inspired, because they relayed a message with meaning. I find no such thing in "Denial".
     
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  5. Andrae Smith
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    Andrae Smith Gone exploring... in the inner realm... Contributor

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    For me poetry, like all art is difficult to define and to label as good or bad. I believe art and poetry are subjective and entirely about the experience of the author and the audience at the individual level. A poem can be metrically sound and be very bland to people, but if it makes a few people experience something, then It is art to them. It could also be very rich in meaning, yet not very metrical or laced with fancy prose. I would call it art if it presents it's information in a way that makes me feel something. The stronger the feeling, the better the art. Likewise the better the technique (i.e. masterful use of skill and complexities of language) the better the art, if they can be appreciated.

    That said, I would argue that there are two types of poetry, appealing to different audiences. In one school, the emphasis is on the meaning and what's being said and evoked. In the other, the focus is on how it's said.
    The best "definition" of "good" poetry I've ever seen is: "the best words in their best order" to elicit or induce a response from the audience. So if the language gives me chills, I will still enjoy it even if I have no idea what it means. And if I fully get it (or it forces me to think more or feel something or otherwise just prolong the experience), and the aesthetics are solid for what the poem is (3 word, 2 lines, rhyme or no rhyme, etc.) then I can appreciate it's value.

    If it fails to do either. I won't like it, but I'll consider it's possible value to others and let them have it.

    Now, that is not to say that there are not certain linguistic skills or awareness that one needs to write a good poem or short story. It's the same for a painter or a sketch artist, they have to have an eye for visuals to make their art worth while.
     
  6. Andrae Smith
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    Andrae Smith Gone exploring... in the inner realm... Contributor

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    This may not be a poem, but I'd say this kid certainly does good work! This is art, to me.

     
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  7. Dean Stride
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    Dean Stride Contributing Member

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    Now this is what I'm talking about.
     
  8. Dean Stride
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    Dean Stride Contributing Member

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    Is that the culmination of cultural development, smashing through walls? How about we hit the breaks before we break the vehicle that's carrying us? The two intrinsic aspects of words, without which they cannot even function as such, is precisely meaning and structure. When you want to strip them of even that, you're doing no better than driving a car without an engine and a body. Those generations knew quite well in which direction to go, when to speed up, when to slow down, and when to hit the breaks.
     
  9. cazann34
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    cazann34 Active Member

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    I've heard that art is defined as something which provokes an emotional response. Which of course begs the question are artists just taking the rise out of us? Is a cupboard (closet) with one single light bulb in it, actually art? Is a piece of rotting meat displayed in a glass case art? How about a collection of vacuum cleaners? Do they evoke a strong emotional response? Yes, in me they do. Of bemusement.
     
  10. Dean Stride
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    Dean Stride Contributing Member

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    Correct me if I'm wrong but as I understood from your critique, you're saying that the meaning of words, being a matter of language, is a continuous deference to others such, and this reduction to absurdity eventually leads to the notion of there being no intrinsic meaning to any given word outside of this cycle.

    I couldn't disagree more. Words have very set, very definite meanings that permeate the confines of linguistics. They are signs related to the real world, or fictional derivatives thereof, and do not need other words to describe their meaning. When I think of a rock, I don't think of "a hard mineral", I think of a rock. A rock is a rock; it has its own agency, its own identity, and it explains itself to those familiar with the labels.

    I can't help but imagine the evolution of the first words, when there were no verbal definitions, and how they were inseparably connected to the physical world, undeniably having their own identities. The very fact that you can "show" a word is evidence enough that taking the abstract approach is just looking at one side of a multifaceted question.
     
  11. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    I believe there comes a point where experimental poetry is so abstract that it loses all meaning and thus cannot be validly interpreted. For me, saying you found meaning in such poems is like saying you found the face of Jesus on a chicken nugget.
     
  12. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    Having read both threads, and the original poem, my first thought was 'It is poetry, it's Dada!'. If you don't know about Dadaist poetry by now, you should. It's been around for almost as long as Modernism. I might not like this 'Denial' poem (actually, it leaves me pretty cold to be honest) but it has enough technique that I can see to tell me it's not just meaningless space. I consider it poetry, it's just not a poem I care very much about personally.
     
  13. GHarrison
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    GHarrison Senior Member

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    What is "poetry"? What is "art"?

    We might as well ask: What is "the Universe"? or What is "Science"? or somesuch, since the understanding of Art and Poetry are being developed and further understood with progress, like any grand concept. Rule-breaking tests and stretches these boundaries of understanding.

    Basically any time someone makes something that suggests some aspect of the human condition, there a piece of Art is born. The Arts is an amalgam, a growing cyclone of bits of suggestion and knowledge, each with varying degrees of impact. I'd say when one of these creations leads to group introspection, that increases it's validity in a way.

    Whether or not individuals like or dislike a piece on its own is not all that informative overall. That's my objective opinion.
     
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2013
  14. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    as justive potter stewart so famously once said in re something else [pornography] that was hard to define:

    "I know it when I see it." :cool:
     
  15. MorphineDrip
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    MorphineDrip Member

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    It is strange how something so meaningless has led to such meaningful discourse. Whether or not you agree that what I have written is poetry, you must agree that it has provoked thought - and this, for me, validates the worth of its composition.

    nihil
    validate me
    nihil
     
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  16. Duchess-Yukine-Suoh
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    Duchess-Yukine-Suoh Girl #21 Contributor

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    What does nihil mean, if you don't mind me asking?
     
  17. Dean Stride
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    Dean Stride Contributing Member

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    This is the weakest argument I've had from you so far. No offence.
     
  18. Dean Stride
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    Dean Stride Contributing Member

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    I cannot leave this argument without acknowledging that you are right.
     
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  19. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Don't be too flattered. Big egos will argue over a piece of turd.
     
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  20. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    For me art serves no purpose but to speak to someone. My father is an artist and he does sculpture and you can always
    tell people who get art from the ones that don't. The ones that get it either appreciate it on it's own terms whether or
    not it speaks to them - whether or not they like or get it. The ones that don't get art ask him so what does it do? They
    are constantly wanting to wire his work for a lamp or use it as a coat rack or something equally ridiculous or absurd. They
    don't understand art serves no function accept to cause a reaction in someone - like a flower, like a storm cloud that gives
    no rain.
     
  21. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    I must admit, I am a big fan of poetry but I have little patience for things that are too heavily 'experimental'. I often find it irritatingly pretentious. I think of it like this: a restaurant could be really nice on the inside, be very fashionable and serve some of the best food I've ever had - but if it has a rough, disheveled exterior then I'm not very likely to stop there for something to eat.
     
  22. Dean Stride
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    Dean Stride Contributing Member

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    You're somehow under the impression that those so-called fifty years of philosophy have no contrary position, which is a very impartial statement to make. Also, please, drop off the childish labeling, it's beneath an adult, less so a professor such as yourself.
     
  23. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    Experimental poetry can definitely be hit and miss. And sometimes the poet gets the kudos because a lot of
    critics think if you can't understand or define the poem it must be brilliant. I've read some of William S. Burroughs cut up
    technique poems - a few I felt were good but most were pretentious tripe.

    Earle Birney is pretty good but not every experimental
    poem of his works - some feel more like the germ of an idea that didn't quite come into fruition.
     
  24. Dean Stride
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    Dean Stride Contributing Member

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    It's astounding how you accuse me of a condescending stern-dad voice when you yourself came to the "Denial" thread with exactly that such tone. If you think I find any of your dry remarks fun, you need to rethink your humour.
     
  25. Dean Stride
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    Dean Stride Contributing Member

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    Way to twist the situation.
     
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