Tuesday, June 13, 2006
taxation during wartime
"Politicians have chosen to fight without increasing revenue, imposing rationing, or deferring projects and activities...I happen to think that politicians are reluctant to do what needs to be done because they are more concerned about maintaining their position in office...So our national leaders have chosen to put the cost of the current war on our children and grandchildren. "
I am surprised that this idea never occurred to me. Borrowing to finance the war in
Wednesday, June 07, 2006
I am fascinated by these views because I think they have implications that extend well beyond literature and poetry. I think we are constantly fighting the process of “automization,” and it is a losing battle. Anything that can make us stop and begin to enjoy and appreciate our existence is invaluable. I think reading this stuff has made me realize why I watch movies, read books, or listen to music. Repetition is painful to me. The same reason why I found answering phones at the Art Museum excruciating is the reason why I cannot abide formulaic action movies. My mind rebels. I remember as a kid my father getting mad at me because every time he took me to play baseball I wanted to make up new games or variations on the game.
Variation also does not have to be extreme. The formalists like to point to a lot of extreme examples such as Trsistam Shandy or Finnegans Wake. While these examples are helpful to describe what the formalists stand for, they are extreme examples that are not the norm. Perhaps the best variations are the subtle ones; the variations that occur almost without us noticing them.
The question I ultimately want answered is whether these theories really can set a standard for what is good art. Am I being a snob by calling out people who can watch the same action movies with different characters over and over again? Is their taste any better or worse than mine?
Tuesday, June 06, 2006
“People living at the seashore,” wrote shlovsky, “grow so accustom to the murmur of the waves that they never hear it. By the same token, we scarcely ever hear words which we utter…We look at each other, but we do not see each other anymore. Our perception of the world has withered away, what has remained is mere recognition."
It is this inexorable pull of routine, of habit, that the artist is called upon to counteract. By tearing the object out of its habitual context, by bringing together disparate notions, the poet gives a coup de grace to the verbal cliché and to the stock responses attendant upon it and forces into heightened of things and their sensory texture. The act of creative deformation restores sharpness to our perception, giving density (faktura) to the world around us. “Density is the principle characteristic of this peculiar world of deliberately constructed objects, the totality of which we call art.”
Making strange did not necessarily entail substituting the elaborate for the simple; it could mean just as well the reverse”
“But on the whole, Shklovsky’s argument was more typical of Formalism as a rationale for poetic experimentation than as systematic methodology of literary scholarship. The formalist attempt to solve the fundamental problems of literary theory in close alliance with modern linguistics and semiotics found its most succinct expression in the studies of Roman Jakobson.
‘The function of poetry,’ wrote Jakobsen in 1933, ‘is to point out that the sign is not identical with its referent. Why do we need this reminder? ‘Because’ Jakobsen continued, ‘along with the awreness of the identity of the sign and the referent (A is to A1), we need the consciousness of the inadequacy of this identity (A is not A1); this antinomy is essential, since without it the connection between the sign and the object becomes automatized and the perception of reality withers away.”
Russian Formalism History – Doctrine by Victor Erlich p. 176-181
Шкловский В.Б. Теория прозы. М., 1925.
Monday, June 05, 2006
Viktor Shklovsky: The devices of art have the central function of "making strange," causing a renewal of perception against the background of the process of automation in which we become used to everyday actions and perceptions.
Yuri Tynyanov – “Theory of Literary Evolution” – Literature is a system whose devices tend to become automated…as a consequence new innovative devices are introduced within the system to guarantee its literariness.
Sunday, June 04, 2006
Saturday, June 03, 2006
I finished “Moscow Stories” by Loren Graham today. I picked it up at random at my local public library, which surprisingly stills carries books and not just trashy DVDs. The book seemed to be unexceptional at first glance; an American scientist writes about his experiences in Russia from 1960 to 2005. However, the book turned out to be something more than a tourist mundanely relating his experiences. Graham lived and studied in the Soviet Union at a time when very few people could, and he writes about not only what he saw, but also his friendships at the time, and how those friendships eventually turned out. A interesting story about an amazing life.