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I liked the form used in Little Red Riding Hood the best.


Tanith Lee has also redone some Grimm tales in a haunting way in Red As Blood, or Tales from the Sisters Grimmer.
 
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When I read work as clever as this is makes me realise just how much I still have to learn.

It also makes me wonder how such clever wordsmiths are not even mentioned in the OEBV, whereas the rubbish written by some "proper poets" is reproduced in full measure. For example, how about this, a work entitled "Something there":

something there
where
out there
out where
outside
what
the head what else
something there somewhere outside
the head

at the faint sound so brief
it is gone and the whole globe
not yet bare
the eye
opens wide
wide
till in the end
nothing more
shutters it again

so the odd time
out there
somewhere out there
like as if
as if
something
not life
necessarily

The lack of punctuation and capitalisation is as written.

Please tell me, by what standards is this poetry, and how and why it is better than Guy Carryl's work? Or indeed, how and why it is better than many of the efforts of some Wordcrafters and OEDILFers?


Richard English
 
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Please tell me, by what standards is this poetry, and how and why it is better than Guy Carryl's work? Or indeed, how and why it is better than many of the efforts of some Wordcrafters and OEDILFers?

The answer, dear Richard, is forty-two:

Poem 42
e e cummings

n
OthI
n

g can

s
urPas
s

the m

y
SteR
y

of

s
tilLnes
s

But seriously, because you don't like a poem it ain't. I've got it. While I may "defend" the honor of poets like William Carlos Williams and e e cummings, I've never said that their poetry was better than the poetry found here or elsewhere. (I've said many times that I don't care for limericks. Truth of the matter is I don't care much for haiku, but that doesn't mean either are forms of poetry.) I'm discussing ontology and you are pushing your aesthetics in my face. We've already determined what you don't like and what I'm willing to defend. Nobody is going to change the other's mind. So be it. As for the reason that Carryl is not mentioned in the Oxford Book of English Verse, I can think of two reasons: (1) he was a humorist poet and (2) he was an American. Oh, and a third, he was not as famous as some of the poets included in later editions of the tome.


Ceci n'est pas un seing.
 
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Originally posted by zmjezhd:

(I've said many times that I don't care for limericks. Truth of the matter is I don't care much for haiku, but that doesn't mean either are forms of poetry.)


You don't like haikus?

You know, I've been trashing them myself lately and feeling pretty bad about it. After all, the haiku's a human being, too! It deserves respect.

So to try to make amends, I thought I'd write a Hallmark-style, friendship poem for the haiku. This is as far as I've gotten.


Trying to Make the Haiku Happy

Oh, little haiku, round and flat,
Why do you look at me like that?
I only thought you shouldn't be
Accepted here as poetry.
I only thought that kids should not
Be forced to read and write your rot.
It's not because I don't love you....
Oh, well. You’re right. I don’t. It's true.
 
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I can think of two reasons: (1) he was a humorist poet and (2) he was an American. Oh, and a third, he was not as famous as some of the poets included in later editions of the tome.

I hadn't realised he was American which would, of course, explain why he's not in an anthology of English poetry.

But your final comment is telling and confirms my own belief. If you're famous then you can get away with anything. Much modern art is absolute tosh, but because the artist is famous, rubbish works become, in the eyes of the sycophants, great art.

Had I written the poem I quoted you can be quite sure that, being a pointless and talentless piece of rubbish, it wouldn't even have seen publication in the talent page of a local newspaper. Because it was by a famous poet, it gets published in a major anthology.


Richard English
 
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But your final comment is telling and confirms my own belief. If you're famous then you can get away with anything. Much modern art is absolute tosh, but because the artist is famous, rubbish works become, in the eyes of the sycophants, great art.

Yes, Richard, if you were more famous, maybe you could get away with your strange, new definitions. But you're not.

Had I written the poem I quoted

I see we've been arguing over nothing. I agreed with you way back when that there are lots of poems that aren't very good. I thought you were agreeing with Frank that if you don't like a poem, it isn't a poem. OK, now that we agree we can turn back to words. That's a relief.


Ceci n'est pas un seing.
 
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Sorry for the misunderstanding. There are many poems around that I don't like but which are surely poems - possibly even good poems. My contention was that the one I quoted (written by a very famous British poet) is not a poem by any standards standards that I am aware and would certainly not have been accepted by the establishment as a poem had it been by Richard English, instead of the famed poet it is by.


Richard English
 
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Yes, Richard. For better or worse, people are treated (rated) differently from one another by one another based on age, nationality, race, gender, fame, and a legion of other arbitrary attributes.


Ceci n'est pas un seing.
 
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I hadn't realised he was American which would, of course, explain why he's not in an anthology of English poetry.

Hmmm...why "of course?" Americans don't speak English (and none of that lip, my dear Britishers...or whatever you want to be called. Wink)
 
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Hmmm...why "of course?" Americans don't speak English (and none of that lip, my dear Britishers...or whatever you want to be called. Wink)

The anthology is of English poets - that is, those who are English by nationality - though I see that it does include Burns, who was Scotish. It also includes a couple of American poets - but only because they wrote at the time that America was a British colony.

As I have said previously in these pages, care is needed when describing the denizens of the British Islands (the correct geographical term). British could mean English, Welsh, Scots or Northern Irish, whose countries together comprise the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Irish can only mean those who live in the Republic of Ireland - the southern part of the island of Ireland - part of the British Islands.

As the English comprise around 83% of the inhabitants of the United Kingdom, it is common, but wrong, to refer to anyone who lives in the UK or Britain as "English". In much the same way it is common, but wrong, to assume that anyone who lives in America lives in the USA.


Richard English
 
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Originally posted by Richard English:
British Islands (the correct geographical term)
Isn't British Isles much more common? Or is that a US usage?
 
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The British Isles excludes Ireland, which is not British. The Geographical term is the British Islands.


Richard English
 
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quote:
something there
where
out there
out where
outside
what
the head what else
something there somewhere outside
the head
...
yada yada yada


"Poems", such as the one Richard quoted from an anthology as well as the one by Edward Cummings that zmjezhd quoted, often strike me as verbal abuse directed at readers by the "poets".
 
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"Poems", such as the one Richard quoted from an anthology as well as the one by Edward Cummings that zmjezhd quoted, often strike me as verbal abuse directed at readers by the "poets".

Yes, well, but they seem like poems to me. Whatcha gonna do? (And why can't poems be abusive?)


Ceci n'est pas un seing.
 
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Yes, well, but they seem like poems to me.

But why? They seem like rubbish to me. Just calling a random collection of words a poem doesn't make it a poem any more than it makes it a novel.

An unmade bed is an unmade bed, even if Tracey Emins claims it's great art and her many sycophants toady up to her and agree.


Richard English
 
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They seem like rubbish to me.

Yes, and most limericks seem rubbish to others. For some, The Da Vinci Code is a great novel; to others it's not. So what? I am not the only person who thinks that texts written by such diverse poets as Walt Whitman, T S Eliot, e e cummings, and a host of others is poetry, no matter what Richard English and some other folks might insist. Simply insisting does not make you right and me wrong, nor the reverse. And that does not make me a toadying lickspittle anymore than it makes you a cultureless, contrarian bore. I can live with that. Can you?


Ceci n'est pas un seing.
 
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Yeah, but sometimes the arts community does dive off into deep pools of nonsense. Admittedly reasonable people can disagree about certain the merits of certain pieces; that does not mean that it is always reasonable to call a piece 'art' rather than drivel.
 
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Simply insisting does not make you right and me wrong, nor the reverse.

I agree. And my orginal question was, "...Please tell me, by what standards is this poetry..." and the only standards we seem yet to agree on are the standards of our own beliefs and preferences.

Were I to write:

If you go
Around the corner
Are you still
Alive
Or just in my mind?

I don't believe that's a poem. But it's every bit as much a poem as the work I quoted originally.


Richard English
 
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"...Please tell me, by what standards is this poetry..."

By form: it's short and broken up into free verse. Here's the real crux of our argument. For you and Frank, it ain't a poem unless it has mainly, meter, and partially, rhyme. I've pointed out, that we have a history in the west of free verse being used by poets to write their poems, since the middle of the 19th century. Again, haiku has very strict rule about meter, but for some reason Frank doesn't like it, so it's not "a valid form in English". Some neo-traditonalists are moving back towards meter and rhyme, but then some poems, like the Death of a Toad, are criticized for being over the top. It seems to me, that many still prize poetic diction, poetic language, the subject matter, as it were, as one of the defining characteristics of poetry. Some poets, starting with poemes concretes, and on through Futurism, Dada, and Surrealism, took an anti-formalist, anti-sentimental, anti-love-dove tack. In a lot of poetry today, the sound and rhythym of tradtional meters have been replaced more with a look and feel of printed word on page. Much poetry is still performed live, and the reading sometimes helps to convey what the poem ought to sound like. Aesthetic criteria change all the time. One of Aristotle's for plays was a unity of time and place. Very few plays bother with that one anymore. Times and tastes change.

By language, or its poetic diction (as pointed out in a previous post of mine). Although, in this case perhaps a bit trite in a neo-Kantian sort of way. For me, and many others, poems are short (nobody much writes epics anymore do they?) texts that attempt to transfer some emotional state from the poet to his/her audience. Sometimes, usually rarely it works, but again, I insist a bad poem is still a poem.

By author's intention. This is problematic. Perhaps you didn't mean it as a poem, but as a bit of prose you've tarted up to look like a poem. This is also a great bit of contention between us. For you author's intention means nothing. For me, it is very important. You can't have art these days without the work of art, the artist, an audience (consumer), a critic, and a businessman. This seems to be a huge factor in your ire against current trends in art. These people are getting paid to do stuff of which you don't approve. I'm less worried about the huge amount of money being spent in my country to further an illegal and immoral war abroad than in the small amount being spent on artist whose work I may or may not like. I don't personally care for a lot of art, past or present, but the stuff I like makes up for the stuff I don't.

So, in the end, I guess your example is not a poem, mainly because it doesn't really move me (the audience / critic), you don't consider yourself a poet, and your intention in writing the text was as an example to further your cause that texts like this aren't poems.


Ceci n'est pas un seing.
 
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For you author's intention means nothing. For me, it is very important.

That is a fascinating argument and an important insight. For, after all, who can be sure about an artist's intention.

Tracy Emins tells us that it is her true intent to show her unmade bed as a work of art - and so she gets paid obscene sums of cash for what my wife would try to clean up as a mess. But is that her real intention? I suggest that her real intention is make make a lot of money for Tracy Emins.

Now, whereas I have no quarrel with people who want to make money, I resent their making money at my expense by getting public funding for rubbish.

Apart from the artist, nobody can know an artst's true intention. I have declared my hand in my "poem" but, can you be sure that I am not actually lying in order to disguise my desparate need to be recognised as a free-verse poet?

My own definition of a work of art of any kind would include the amount of skill and effort that goes into its creation (although that would never be the only criterion). A few words scribbled down, no matter how good the artist's intent, would usually not meet my criterion for a proper work of poetry.

The artist who throws paint at a wall, like the poet who throws words onto paper has no right, in my view, to having his or her works treated as art. The well-crafted graffito and the well-written limerick have more artistic claims than do these.


Richard English
 
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Apart from the artist, nobody can know an artst's true intention. I have declared my hand in my "poem" but, can you be sure that I am not actually lying in order to disguise my desparate need to be recognised as a free-verse poet?

I said it was problematic, Richard. Judging by what I know of you, I doubt you meant it as a poem, but as a silly example of what's wrong with most poetry these days. But we won't really know what your intentions were, anymore than you know what any artist's are. (So, in a way, Richard, you and I are alike.) What did Shakespeare intend by his poetry? Since, he went to great lengths to fight piracy in his day, I suppose he was in it for the money. Doesn't really detract or add to his poetry for me. (Interestingly, the first critical mention of Shakespeare was in the Restoration where he was panned for not writing plays that came up to the then current, French Neo-Classical theory of playwriting.) Since you've brought up Tracey Emin again, I thought it interesting that the two Chinese men who stripped down to their underwear in the Tate and jumped into her Unmade Bed "to improve it" were emphatic about how their action was not art. How does their actions (and words) compare with those of the two different fellows who attacked Rembrandt's Night Watch and Michaelangelo's Pietà? Or Duchamp's Daliesque moustache on a cheap copy of the Mona Lisa? And since we're reading minds, I notice that you only cite works that you dislike. I assume you don't really care much for art, high or low, or poetry as you go about your work of a day.

[Fixed typo.]

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Ceci n'est pas un seing.
 
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Actually I do like art - although we may differ as to what makes good, or even great, art.

I enjoy much of Lewis Carroll's poetic work, even though some of it is rather dark. I enjoy paintings by Turner very much. And, although we've not mentioned it, I am very fond of music, especially Elgar. I did mention, too, that I enjoy many of the limericks submitted to OEDILF and I will defend their artistic merit vigorously against the merit of the kind of verse I cited earlier.

The artistic "establishment" which gives limericks a cold shoulder and welcomes the non-rhyming, non-scanning and non-meaning utterances of "real" poets has nothing but the right of establishment on its side, so far as I can see.

Incidentally, the reason I only cited works I didn't like was to make the point I was making about "rubbish" art.


Richard English
 
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Whistler's style was a definite mixture of influences that included the French avant-garde impressionism of the time, the British painting tradition, and the popularity of Japanese art that resulted from trade and commerce with Asia. The technique of his paintings involved using oil pigment thinned until it was the consistency of water. This medium allowed him to work quickly, which was quite different from the technique that Ruskin admired in painters. In fact, it seems quite evident that Ruskin never admired Whistler's style. In an Oxford lecture in 1873, Ruskin speaking of Whistler's paintings, declared that he had never seen “anything so impudent on the walls of any exhibition, in any country, as last year in London. It was daub professing to be a 'harmony in pink and white' (or some such nonsense); absolute rubbish, and which had taken about a quarter of an hour to scrawl or daub—it had no pretence to be called painting.

[Erin Landry. "Whistler v. Ruskin: Morality in Art Versus Aesthetic Theory".]


A very modern sounding critcisim of modernism. Compare this painting by J M W Turner, whom John Ruskin championed, to one, by James MacNeill Whistler, which set Ruskin off.

Turner :- Stormy Sea With Burning Wreck

Whistler :- Nocturne in Black and Gold, The falling Rocket (1874)

The Turner to my eye is more abstract than the Whistler, but I like both of them. Whistler successfully sued Ruskin for libel, and was awarded a mocking farthing by the judge. Ruskin considered Whistler's victory a moral one. Neither man was happy with the outcome. Compared with the other great Late Victorian libel case (Oscar Wilde vs Marquis of Queensbury) nobody did hard labor for two years.


Ceci n'est pas un seing.
 
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This rather pointless and fundamentally unresolvable argument reminds me of something I saw a few years ago in one of the newspapers. They printed a series a photographs of paintings. Some were lesser-known works by modern abstract artists, some were random daubs made by chimpanzee. The newspaper (it was probably the Mail, it sounds rather like their style) drew the conclusion that there was no difference between the two groups and therefore the modern artists must be rubbish as they couldn't paint any better than a chimp.

The difference is that the artist consciously chose to make those particular patterns of paint and the chimps (presumably) didn't.

I hope Richard (though I suspect in vain) that you see the difference but given that the newspaper was doing on a larger scale what you do each time this argument comes up and producing a frivolous "counter-example", I'll bet you agreed with the paper.

The bottom line is that if I am the artist and I say it's art then it is. If I am the poet and I say it's a poem then it is. If I am John Cage and I say that a musical piece comprising only rest bars is a work for piano then it is. (In fact Mike Batt was accused of plagiarising it!)

Whether these things are good art, good poetry or good music is for others to judge but the fact that the person who made them says his/her intention was to produce art/poetry/music is good enough for me in defining it to be art/music/poetry.
 
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The bottom line is that if I am the artist and I say it's art then it is.

Even if you're saying it simply to make lots of cash (which I contend is often the case with many modern artists)?


Richard English
 
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Originally posted by Richard English:
quote:
The bottom line is that if I am the artist and I say it's art then it is.

Even if you're saying it simply to make lots of cash (which I contend is often the case with many modern artists)?


But of course your contention does not necessarilly make it so. If those artists "doing it for the money" wrote with rhymes however poor those rhymes might be would you then consider it to be poetry?

"No man but a blockhead ever wrote except for money." Samuel Johnson.

In fact I think I'll make that my new signature line. Smile

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Sorry. I feel compelled at this point to include the lyrics to one of my favourite songs by Ian Dury and the Blockheads:

You must have seen parties of Blockheads
With blotched and lagered skin
Blockheads with food particles in their teeth
What a horrible state they're in

They've got womanly breasts under pale mauve vests
Shoes like dead pigs' noses
Cornflake packet jacket, catalogue trousers
A mouth what never closes

You must have seen Blockheads in raucous teams
Dressed up after work
Who screw their poor old Eileens
Get sloshed and go berserk

Rotary accessory watches
Hire-purchase signet rings
A beauty to the bully boys
No lonely vestige clings

Why bother at all about Blockheads?
Why shouldn't they do as they please?
You know if it came to a brainy game
You could baffle a Blockhead with ease

How would you like one puffing and blowing in your ear-hole?
Or pissing in your swimming pool?

Bigger brained Blockheads often acquire
Black and orange cars
Premature ejaculation drivers
Their soft-top's got roll-bars

'Fill her up,' they say to Blockheads
'Go on, stick it where it hurts'
Their shapeless haircuts don't enhance
Their ghastly patterned shirts

Why bother at all about Blockheads?
Superior as you are
You're thoughtful and kind with a well-stocked mind
A Blockhead can't think very far

Imagine finding one in your laundry basket
Banging nails in your big black dog

Why bother at all about Blockheads?
Why should you care what they do?
Cos after all is said and done
You're a Blockhead too

Blockheads
Blockheads
Blockheads
(oi oi)
Blockheads
(oi, oi)... Smile

Is this art, or Art?


Build a man a fire and he's warm for a day. Set a man on fire and he's warm for the rest of his life.
 
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Ian Dury

Thanks for that lovely poem, arnie. It sent me off down Memory Lane towards the Wikipedia Plaza, where I learned that Drury had suffered from polio as a child. Never heard a peep of that over here in the States during the height of his fame. Anyway, turn-about being fair play and all, I thought I'd share my favorite limerick:

There once was a man of St Bees
Who was stung in the hand by a wasp;
When asked, "Does it hurt?"
He replied, "Yes, it does,
I'm so glad it wasn't a hornet."

I'm afraid it doesn't rhyme, and its subject is not terribly funny, but it is playful in a seriously nonsensical and Victorian sort of way, and I find myself chuckling whenever I read it. Like much poetry, its ostensible subject is not what it's about. It's also hard, sans context, to discern the intent of its author, W S Gilbert, who wrote it as a parody of Edward Lear's proto-limericks, but then sometimes the author's intention doesn't carry that much weight.

["Hit me with your spelling stick; hit me!" Fixed the misspelling of Mr Dury's name.]

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Ceci n'est pas un seing.
 
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I'm glad you like Ian Dury's stuff, too, zmj. (Note there's only one r in his last name.) No-one else could have written such gems as
    A love affair with Nina in the back of my Cortina,
    A seasoned-up hyena couldn't have been more obscener
or
    Roll against my body
    Get me where you want me
    What happens next is private
    It’s also very rude

I'm slightly surprised you didn't know about his polio. He had to walk with a stick and always carried the stick onstage and made it part of his act. He was also fairly well-known for supporting anti-polio charities in Africa as well, of course, as anti-cancer charities. It was a form of cancer, ironically, that killed him.


Build a man a fire and he's warm for a day. Set a man on fire and he's warm for the rest of his life.
 
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Coincidentally, in today's "Times", Celia Brayfield has written an article on just this topic. Her excellent summary has in its final paragraph the words, "...The truth is that there is more to reaching your audience than simply making good art, and true artists are also astute careerists whose real genius is as much for self-mythology as for their creative work...."

You might be able to read the whole article here http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,6-2254599,00.html although I suspect that US readers might be blocked.


Richard English
 
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I saw some of a BBC4 documentary last night on "The Great Ossian Hoax". See http://www.bbc.co.uk/bbcfour/documentaries/features/ossian.shtml
quote:
In 1761, a Scot named James Macpherson published what he claimed were the collected works of a poet named Ossian, written more than 1,000 years ago and providing Scotland with an epic to rival Homer's Iliad.
It was later found out that McPherson had written the tales himself, not translated them from the Gaelic. The translations were generally recognised as great literature, and became the source of some great art and music, especially on the Continent.

I wonder: Now that the translations have been exposed as fakes, do they cease being great literature?


Build a man a fire and he's warm for a day. Set a man on fire and he's warm for the rest of his life.
 
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Now that the translations have been exposed as fakes, do they cease being great literature?

A good question, arnie. Here are two books I've recently been re-reading which deal with fakes in literature, Faking Literature (2001) by K K Ruthven, and painting, Languages of Art (1976) by Nelson Goodman. Besides Ossian / James Macpherson and William Henry Ireland / Shakespeare (my favorite), Professor Ruthven also covers the infamous Ern Malley case in Australia. Here two disgruntled traditionalist poets pulled the wool over a young academic's eyes by creating a poet and his "good" / "bad" poetry out of nothing. Professor Goodman covers, in part, the van Meegeren / Vermeer forgeries. This case is very interesting. Van Meegeren was originally arrested by Dutch authorities for trafficking in stolen artwork with Nazis (he sold a fake Vermeer to Goering), but after experts said he couldn't have possibly painted the fakes, he showed them how in his prison cell. Arthur Danto also discusses fakes, forgeries, and imitations in his works on the philosophy of art. And, finally, you could do no worse than familiarizing yourself with Walter Benjamin's "Das Kunstwerk im Zeitalter seiner technischen Reproduzierbarkeit", ("The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction", 1936).


Ceci n'est pas un seing.
 
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quote:
Originally posted by Richard English:
Coincidentally, in today's "Times", Celia Brayfield has written an article on just this topic. Her excellent summary has in its final paragraph the words, "...The truth is that there is more to reaching your audience than simply making good art, and true artists are also astute careerists whose real genius is as much for self-mythology as for their creative work...."

You might be able to read the whole article here http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,6-2254599,00.html

This is a very interesting article, Richard. I hadn't considered that my view of the artist was also something that might be deliberately contrived by the artist or those patronizing the artist.

Here's another quote from that article, that I don't quite get, but find interesting:

The bohemian stereotype, invented to impress the newly emerged 19th-century middle classes, serves to disempower artists and keep art appreciation as the preserve of an initiated elite.

Today I view poets as (1) overly respectable academics, if they have jobs teaching writing, (2) not-so-respectable political activists, if they don't have jobs teaching writing, (3) old-fashioned, obsolete, if they like meter, unless they are writing lyrics for real songs, then they are likely viewed as very wealthy if you know their songs. A poet that doesn't teach writing somewhere doesn't seem to be quite a poet.

I suppose that is part of the myth today.
 
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I suspect the lay view of artists is rather different from yours. There are probably a few people who still believe in the "starving in the attic" cliché, some who think that much modern art is rubbish, and a sizeable number who couldn't care less one way or another.

Oh, and a few who actually study and appreciate art and know about artists.


Richard English
 
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I'm sure most people think modern art is rubbish. The common comment is "I could do that myself". (Of course, we wouldn't want to waste our time doing it.)

There's an interesting DVD about Bukowski life that I've recently seen. He's considered a "poet", but I consider what he writes as humorous "flash prose". As a postal worker, he's not my idea of a "poet".
 
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As a postal worker, he's not my idea of a "poet".

I'm sure you'll be happy to know that Charles Bukowski is dead. He has been for a dozen years or so. He had quit his job at the US Post Office about 20 years before his death.


Ceci n'est pas un seing.
 
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