Monday, April 9, 2007

Room full of Corn Dogs

I didn't post about Shelley sooner because I was too busy checking my MySpace and Facebook accounts continuously from a McDonald's while playing World of Warcraft and listening to K-Fed.

Actually, that's only part true.

I was going to talk about sincerity, but I'm going to talk about poets and order instead. In A Defence of Poetry, Shelley stresses how man sees "order" in everything from its "infancy." He says, "Hence men, even in the infancy of society, observe a certain order in their words and actions, distinct from that of the objects and the impressions represented by them, all expression being subject to the laws of that from which it proceeds." He also goes on to say that "Every man in the infancy of art observes an order which approximates more or less closely to that from which this highest delight results: but the diversity is not sufficiently marked, as that its gradations should be sensible, except in those instances where the predominance of this faculty of approximation to the very great. Those in whom it exists in excess are poets, in the most universal sense of the word..."

When I re-read these passages, I thought about the word "order." At first it seemed like Shelley believed there is almost a divine order in art, and if you find out the correct order of things you would have a powerful tool. But then he goes on to say that this may lead to an "approximation of the beautiful." A divine order doesn't seem like it would only lead to an "approximation" of beauty.

If the romantics were so delighted with the order they found in things, why does it delight me to find disorder and discord in things? Is disorder just another kind of "order?"

As humans we categorize (i.e. name) everything we see, and Shelley's notion of "order" isn't so much order as it is categorization. And his idea of base desires seems to have less to do with corn dogs, sex, NASCAR, or carnivals than it does with a sort of "universal" categorization. I think people who discover these universal categories and break them apart are poets.

It is late. I might revise this in the morning.


K. Silem Mohammad said...

This is great, Bryan. I hope you do expand it a bit. I think Shelley is less thinking of "categorization" than something like "pattern" or "structure" or "design" (though maybe without the necessary connotation of a divine Creator that these entail). You can see pattern in both the categorically ordered and the chaotically strewn, no? When Shelley appeals to order, I think it's the kind of order we associate with the veins in a leaf or the whorls of a seashell (or, more to the point, the sense of order we construct imaginarily upon encountering such things); not the order of tax files in a cabinet. Decades later, Gerard Manley Hopkins talks about the "inscape" of things, which seems to be a similar concept.

Emma said...

bryan- i dig it. the blog, the response, the poem, i like the part about pad thai loitering under the heat lamps, i like the music at the bottom, and i like that your page isnt struggling like mine.

///MR YORK\\\ said...

I'm sorry but the title wins it for me.

Danyn said... the part about World of Warcraft true? ^_^ 'Cause if so, then I give you a high-five and want to know which server(s) you play on.

<3 teh WoW-crack

Bryan said...
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Bryan said...
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Bryan said...

no, not really a big fan. i was just being ironic, sorry.