Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Makin' Strange

“Shklovsky’s theory of ‘making strange’ the object depicted switched the emphasis from the poetic use of the image to the function of poetic art. The trope was seen here as one of the devices at the poet’s disposal, exemplifying the general tendancy of poetry, indeed all art. The transfer of the object to the sphere of new perception, that is a sui generic “semantic shift” effected by trope, was proclaimed as the principle aim, the raison d’etre of poetry.

“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

1 comment:

Andrew Gabriel Rose said...

Has your opinion on collarbones fluttering like kytes been affected by this "new shit" that has "come to light?"