Category Archives: Uncategorized

The Romantics: So What? (Part 2)

Yesterday we looked deeper into the ideas of literary aesthetics, and I hope it was beneficial–I wore my brain out on it, so I hope it was! Just in case you missed it (or it’s too dense) let’s recap:

  • Problem: The study of literature is being bombarded by those who feel pressured to produce some sort of new idea all the time; Delbanco calls this the “professionalization” of literature. Professionalization sucks the life out of literature, according to Delbanco.
  • Solution 1: Aesthetic reading brings back joy to literature. Kendall Walton suggests that when reading literature, readers should build their ideas out of the literature instead of bringing ideas and planting them in the literature
  • Counterpoint: Louise Rosenblatt argues that a new poem is created whenever a reader approaches as text; a reader cannot help but bring in his or her previous ideas
  • Solution 2: Aesthetic reading must be an active idea, one done open-mindedly; if this is accomplished, the poem that is created will be one that is fair to the text, reader, and author and will more fitly accomplish the goals of the author

9 Posts, 21 Comments, and 394 Views later, here we are at the end of the first process of this blog. What you may or may not have known is that this blog was an experiment in the Digital Humanities. I wanted to examine the effectiveness of the blog, to see if its attractiveness as a digital resource would garner interest and participation. Of course, the factors that played into this are probably infinitely manifold. So, instead of trying to guess a few and leave a lot out, I will go over the successes and failures of this blog in hopes that it can continue to grow and change.

Successes and Failures

I was going to separate the two, but success and failure are a strange couple, and with this blog, they have decided to mingle.

As far as interest goes in Romantic poets of 18th century England goes, 394 reads in a couple month period isn’t so bad. I believe that the use of advertising on Facebook helped increase this–and my pestering of some of you to read. I believe that an involvement in Twitter and other social media would have increased hits, and that will probably be something I look into in the future.

Getting the blog to be a “living one” was tough since I couldn’t force any of you to read AND comment. Eventually, I dropped the prompt because it wasn’t actually prompting anyone to write after a while. I tried my best to be interesting, relevant, and cultured, but I understand that some of you were still bored with the Romantics. Don’t worry; it’s okay! So, while I had a few casual and a few committed commenting people, the whole symbiosis didn’t really work. In a school setting where participation would be required, I believe this format has the potential to be very successful in terms of interesting and effective learning. Not only would it develop critical thinking skills in students, but participation in a blog would increase computer and internet literacy, which will be more and more important as our culture moves more quickly toward being more internet-based.

Oh, yeah! I learned a lot and had a good excuse to read the Romantics and learn about aesthetic criticism. If this blog was just directly attached to my brain as I read and thought, I’m sure the posts would be much more interesting and substantial. Getting this blog up and took quite a bit of effort and getting used to the WordPress platform, but the effort–and frustration–paid off.

Thanks for reading, participating, and letting me know what you thought. I will return after a while to start up a less scholarly but possibly–hopefully–more interesting look into the Romantics, their poetry, and their thoughts.

Advertisements

The Romantics: So What? (Part 1)

“The end of the eighteenth century, swept by vast disturbing currents, experienced an excitement of spirit of which one note was a reaction against an outworn classicism severed not more from nature than from the genuine motives of ancient art … Complex and subtle interests, which the mind spins for itself may occupy art and poetry or our own spirits for a time; but sooner or later they come back with a sharp rebound to the simple elementary passions—anger, desire, regret, pity, and fear: and what corresponds to them in the sensuous world—bare, abstract
fire, water, air, tears, sleep, silence, and what De Quincey has called the “glory of motion.” (Walter Pater, “Aesthetic Poetry” 1, 4)

And here we are, at the last “official” topic: What’s the big deal about the Romantics? If you haven’t been able to tell, I’ve been saying this whole time, “HEY! You should read the Romantics… and much more deeply than we’ve gone into with this blog.” On the surface, that ‘s not a stance that has anything to do with Literary Theory.  So you say, “So what, James? That’s just your artistic preference. Convince me of something useful.”

This whole time, it hasn’t been just about reading the Romantics. Studying Romantic Poetry has been a medium for two things:

  1. (For both of us) To learn to appreciate Literature and Art aesthetically, for its own beauty and sublimity and thus be able to see the world, its culture, and art through Romantic glasses, and
  2. (For me, mainly) To see the responses to the presenting of a digital classroom in this format.

Yes, I do believe the Romantic worldview carries meaningful weight, from what Wordsworth says about the poet and his work, what Coleridge puts forward as the functioning of the imagination, to how Keats strives for beauty, truth, and respecting the heart’s passions. In this Postmodern world, sometimes it’s not okay for an intelligent person to say, “I like this; just because. I respect this work of art for its inherent beauty.” Andrew Delbanco explains the effects of Deconstruction criticism  in his essay, “The Decline and Fall of Literature,”

“[The Deconstructionist view led to the dogmatic understanding that] literature, like any constructed system of meaning, must be assessed in relation to this or that “identity” (race, class, gender, etc.) to the exclusion of every other point of view. Here began in earnest the fragmentation of literary studies that is so evident today—and that has left a legacy of acrimony, and of intellectual and professional fatigue.”

“Fatigue.” Growing tired of studying art?! How can that be? Delbanco explains that many criticism theories have destroyed the enjoyment in literature. Today the literary scholar cannot write solely of the aesthetic value of the work, for that holds no importance. Instead, he or she must abdicate all enjoyment to the ceaseless pursuit of a new point-of-view that may shed light on something never-before-seen. In relation to this, Delbanco summarizes John Ellis, author of Literature Lost:

In Literature Lost, the shrillest of recent books on the crisis, John Ellis blames the whole mess on the dynamics of professionalization—on, that is, the pressure to publish something, anything, that is novel or startling or upon which a reputation can be built. The publish-or-perish desperation has only increased as the readership for what is published declines.

You see, the problem here isn’t just that people aren’t accepting art for itself, the problem is that art must now be dissected, picked apart, examined, and left on the floor to rot. Can I make a case that art is important and should be appreciated for its own sake? I believe so. To do this, though, one must set aside questions that are outside the reader, questions such as, “What is art, really?” and “Who is allowed to be an artist?” These questions are irrelevant when one enjoys any book, poem, painting, photograph, or anything else and lets the experience be come naturally, unhampered except by forces which exist in the subconscious (Kendall Walton, “Aesthetics: What, Why, and Wherefore?” Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 65.2 (2007): 147-161) . And such is the “recollection in tranquility” of which Wordsworth speaks.

In “Aesthetics” Walton argues that our concept of art–whether it be anything from literature to a baseball game (I know, right?)–and the theories and criticisms that we bring to it should be those that form up from the art instead of plastering ideas right onto the art (159). This idea is what I was going for throughout this blog and will continue to pursue–that which we experience now illuminates the poetry of the Romantics and vice versa.

There is at least one problem with this theory: sometimes we cannot help what we bring to the table. This gets back to our ideas of experience and secondary imagination; our collected experiences passively influence us as we engage in any work of art, thus creating a new work of art in the process. Loiuse Rosenblatt, in her 1938 book Literature as Exploration puts it this way: “The reader [creates] a poem out of texts by an active, self-ordering, and self-correcting process (11). This process is the one of which we’ve been speaking, that a reader–and this goes further than the aesthetic–brings his or her own experiences and interprets the text by those experiences. If we are to accept Rosenblatt’s view, experiencing any text within itself is impossible.

Of course, this may not be such a big problem, for to be open-minded while approaching and taking in a text must be possible, else our beliefs would forever be in a solid state. Luckily, our beliefs are fluid, and while we may always be creating a poem as we read a text–or any other piece of art, for that matter–the poem which we create can and should be controlled by our will to take in the text unbiasedly and in a way which the author would have us to.

So, as we read, let us continue to create our own poems, to let them spring forth in times of tranquility as Wordsworth would have us, all the while keeping our heads clear and respecting the heart of the author with the pure view that Keats had, experiencing that which the author meant for us as readers to experience.

Tomorrow

I will wrap up this post by sharing my thoughts on the project as it relates to the digital humanities, looking at its successes and its failures–and what I have learned along the way.


The Beautiful and Sublime: Accepting Art As It Is

As we move toward looking at art and creation as the Romantics did, it would be helpful to look at Edmund Burke’s treatise A Philosophical Inquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Beautiful and Sublime. A Philosophical Inquiry put Burke on the radar with other contemporary philosophers such as Immanuel Kant and David Hume. Anyway, he wrote this treatise examining the beautiful and sublime–pretty much the how and why we enjoy both beautiful things and unpleasant things. We’re used to this idea, right? I mean we enjoy grabbing some delicious ice cream at Trowbridge’s, but we–not I!–also enjoy jumping off buildings while only attached by a cord. Here’s what Burke has to say in regard to the Beautiful and Sublime:

[The Sublime and Beautiful] are indeed ideas of a very different nature, one being founded on pain, the other on pleasure; and however they may vary afterwards from the direct nature of their causes, yet these causes keep up an eternal distinction between them, a distinction never to be forgotten by any whose business it is to affect the passions. In the infinite variety of natural combinations, we must expect to find the qualities of things the most remote imaginable from each other united in the same object. We must expect also to find combinations of the same kind in the works of art. (III.27)

Burke, like his contemporaries, writes a little verbose for our 21st century comprehension. In 21st century language, Burke would be saying, “The Sublime and Beautiful are pretty much opposites–one is caused by pain, the other by pleasure. Even though they’re almost complete opposites, sometimes a single object can evoke the reactions of both the Sublime and the Beautiful. And you won’t just find this in nature, obviously; art produces these effects, as well.”

For the purposes of this blog, we’ll be focusing on the Beautiful and Sublime of art, specifically of Literature.

If we’re going to accept the Aesthetic viewpoint of Literature, acquiring a sense of the Beautiful and Sublime is necessary to be able to accept all Literature as that which can and will evoke in the reader the emotions of the creator.

We easily accept that Literature that we readily call Beautiful. Reading Wordsworth’s pastoral poetry or Shakespeare’s sensual  sonnets engenders a feeling of pleasantness and calmness, that warm, passionate feeling in the heart. When we read something ugly, dirty, or challenging, our first reaction may be to put it down, but accepting the truth of the usefulness of the Beautiful as well as the Sublime requires readers to find the pleasure–if not just the pragmatic purpose–in Literature that exemplifies Sublime characteristics How else could we enjoy Literature like Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment? Readers would have to put the novel down before the ending of the second chapter if they refused to accept the pleasure that the intense monomania and deep self-examination of Raskolnikov’s mind gives. In the end, though, there’s a payoff. Through experiencing the broken nature of Raskolnikov’s dying and depraved mind, the reader, along with Raskolnikov, joins Lazarus in his resurrection, a cleansing well worth enduring the intimate involvement in the mind of a killer.

It seems some are refusing this outlook and even taking one more step to censor Literature that makes them uncomfortable. NewSouth Books, based in Montgomery Alabama, published a combined volume of Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer in which the “N-word” is replaced with “slave.” Now, there’s no use in playing blame games, and certainly the implications of this publication are manifold; the debate extends into many areas of criticism. I think, though, that our view of literature through the Aesthetic, using the idea of the accepting the Sublime weighs in on this debate.

With our current worldview, words that make another person of society an “other” are attacked–and, many times, rightfully so. The editor of this new edition, Alan Gribben (Twain scholar and professor at Auburn University in Montgomery), proposed this new edition so that the novels would be more readily accepted and taught in school literature classes. Unfortunately, as Twain Biographer Ron Powers agrees, the avoidance of this uncomfortable word destroys the kind of moment that educators should be looking for, a moment of teachability: “[Twain’s language] cries out for conversation between teachers and students. It cries out for context.”

Twain intended to evoke emotion with his use of language that marginalizes a group of people. To edit Twain’s language is to suppress his ability to convey emotion. Censoring Twain is a rejection of accepting art as it is. Society wouldn’t accept the drawing of a mustache on the Mona Lisa just because an expert of Michelangelo was uncomfortable with the ambiguity of the painting and wanted the gender decided once and for all. We accept the art as it is.

Should students no longer study Crime and Punishment because Dostoevsky uses a prostitute to bring a murderer to repentance?

This debate reaches deep into all sorts of novels and poetry, and of course, this isn’t the place for that argument to start, but I did find the debate to be applicable to the subject of the Beautiful and the Sublime. I would encourage you to research more on your own about the Twain debate and other problems of not accepting the Sublime.

Until next time, check out these Romantic poems that carry themes of the Beautiful and Sublime:

L’art Pour L’art

It’s always important to recapitulate, relearn, and refocus. So let’s take a moment to do that.

–Remember the Storm-Born Saints? The Romantics exist as prime examples of the  effects of revolution; that is, the collateral effects of it as well as the direct.

–Think about Wordsworth. He believed in the innocence of the child’s imagination, the innocence of the rustic civilization, the importance of the common individual.

–Primary and Secondary Imagination according to Coleridge, the sensory perceptions of everyday life (Primary) and the recollected perceptions from “the well” (Secondary).

–Go get bored! Inspiration comes while in a tranquil setting, taking from our well of perceptions.

–Turn off your cell! Remember Coleridge’s problem: he didn’t find a truly tranquil place to recall his dream and was interrupted in the middle of creation.

–” ‘Beauty is truth, truth beauty,–that is all / Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.’ ”

–Last, but most importantly, tie it all together with the paradigm of P.A.I.N., that, as it has been said, all  art is caused by some sort of Pain; the Romantics’ art is no different. The tropes, even the fuel, of their poetry is primitivism, the relationship of art and the artist, the individual, and nature.

So, I was just kidding about the whole Beautiful and Sublime thing. Let’s get practical.

It’s a platitude to say something such as, “We should learn that we’re not so different from these guys.” Rather, in considering the Romantics, we should take from their respect of the Beautiful–and not that the poetic object is always beautiful. The Beauty is seen in that poetry is art. Aesthetics such as Harold Bloom see similarly to the Romantics in this way. Seeing poetry–and consequently, all art–as beautiful because of itself leads us to what Tolstoy says of Art in “What is Art?” that Art is based upon an individual’s ability to receive and experience the emotions of another individual–almost as if going through the exact same experience that first caused the emotions.

Isn’t this exactly what Wordsworth, Coleridge, and the others were saying? That each of us creates art when we sit back and think about our experiences and decide to express them to another, no matter what medium it is. As Tolstoy says, Art is “infectious.”

And if I’m trying to prove or persuade you to believe anything in this blog, it is that our view of the world should be as simple as the Romantics’–that Beauty exists in all things as a truth found in the experiences of humanity’s relentless pursuit of making survival more than staying alive, an imparting of the beautiful, those recollected emotions meant to sway and affect the rest of humanity. Allow me to convince you to release yourself from the fetters of literary theory that tries to persuade you to do anything other than feel the emotions that fueled the birth of the art that you are reading. Render useless those theories that persuade you pick art apart, that persuade you to concentrate on the author’s bigotry, misogyny, misandry, and any other slapped on label that would keep you from enjoying the work as a piece of art meant to make you feel. Yes, these theories have their places, but they do not belong in your reading chair, your quiet meadow, or any other place of tranquility where you enjoy art. Go there. Turn off your cell phone. Take a book of Keats’s Poetry and Letters, Wordworth’s The Prelude, or any other book, no matter whether the medium is traditional paper or E ink.

Just get out there and enjoy l’art pour l’art!

Before I log out today, I want to say a few things about where this blog is going to go in the next… few days.

I wasn’t intending to continue this blog past the due date, but I’m going to, actually. I’m learning quite a bit–and hope I’m helping you to do so as well. Though as the due date seems to be upon me, I’m going to hit some things I see as most important before the first death and resurrection of this blog:

  • The Beautiful and Sublime
  • Byron and Blake
  • A Final Observation

Until next time, I leave you with a reading of Keats’s “Ode to a Nightingale” from the Bright Star soundtrack.

Beauty, Truth, and the Holiness of the Heart’s Affections

Just gonna be honest, I could NOT WAIT for this post. I guess I should have  saved the best for last, but really, don’t we all skip to dessert sometimes?

Let’s talk about my man Keats.

Of all the widely-known British Romantic Poets, John Keats probably fits the bill the best. And though all of us who have taken a survey course that has included this era of Literature would first think of Wordsworth, Keats really fits the general understanding of the “Romantic” better than Wordsworth or any other poet of this time because of his straight-up confessions of love in his poetry and letters; he lived a young life, publishing all of his work in just a few short years before he died of Tuberculosis in Winter of 1821 at the age of 26. You can find a good presentation of his life in the movie Bright Star. I would definitely check this movie out if I were you. Besides that it’s about John Keats, the movie is just an enjoyable drama with some good acting, history, and art. At least learn more about Keats’s life–and if I haven’t stressed this before with the other poets, count this as a plea for them as well. As we noted in the last post, an artist’s life doesn’t necessarily directly affect all of his creation, but knowing an artist’s life provides meaningful and useful context for his works.

More so than all the Romantic poets we’ll be talking about, Keats bears his soul straightforward in his writing, both in letters and poetry. To him, one must be perfectly in tune with one’s imagination and affections of the heart. In fact, to Keats nothing else was more obvious than these things. In a letter to a close friend of his, Benjamin Bailey, Keats wrote, “I am certain of nothing but the holiness of the Heart’s affections and the truth of Imagination–what the imagination seizes as Beauty must be truth.”

Remember the paradigm of P.A.I.N. Multiply each part immensely, add in the modern understanding of Romance, and sole reliance on the imagination, and you’ll get Keats’ view of his work and the world–yet at the same time, Keats, though we might disagree that he actually did this, restrains himself so that his poetry does not obtrude into the reader’s heart. In fact, Keats believes “Wordsworth & c.” to be a sort of poetic bullies, forcing their worldview on readers and other poets.  In a letter to John Reynolds, Keats expresses disinterest in culture’s wanting him to write like Wordsworth:

We hate poetry that has a palpable design upon us–and if we do not agree, seems to put its hand in its breeches pocket. poetry should be great & unobtrusive, a thing which enters into one’s soul, and does not startle it or amaze it with itself but with its subject…

Where Wordsworth focuses so much on the poet  and the poet’s creation in his actual poetry, Keats turns his creation towards the subject of his poetry–whether it’s a star, flower, or a Grecian urn.

Speaking of stars and Grecian urns, let’s get right into Keats’ poetry to see what he’s been talking about. And before “Bright Star” read this sonnet by Shakespeare. I’m going to do something a little different here in hopes that people will actually take the poetry in:
Bright Star

Ode on a Grecian Urn

While I do believe most of Keats’ poems show exactly what we’re trying to get at here (perceived beauty as truth and the heart’s affections–in case you missed it), I’m just gonna be honest: besides “Ode to a Nightingale,” these are my favorites.

Looking at “Bright Star,” we see an example of Keats’ constant pointing to his subject instead of pointing to himself or the poem’s structure. The poem itself is pretty simple in structure, being a sonnet. What’s really cool–and obvious, of course–is  that Keats’ subject here isn’t just this unchanging star. It’s love. It’s his love for a woman. It’s the woman herself. To Keats, the heart is so holy that only pure, unfailing devotion can approach it–anything else would be profane.

This may be a good time to note that much of Keats’ poetry is almost, well, it pretty much is, pantheistic, probably not because Keats was a pantheist but because he takes his cue from the classicists of old. Most of his early poetry seems to either be inspired by Hellenistic stories and themes, Shakespeare, or Milton. Later works, such as “Bright Star”–written on a page opposite of Shakespeare’s 116th sonnet–are obviously influenced by Shakespeare.

Looking at “Ode on a Grecian Urn” we see Keats’ perception of humanity as a constant struggle, and yet full to the brim of passion and love, which, if perceived correctly by the senses, are beautiful and, consequently, truth. Keats sees Beauty as something deeper than the aesthetic. To Keats, beauty is the push and pull of human passion, the steadfastness of love, the unchangeable human spirit. Keats believes all these are unreachable, sacred, hidden behind the veil of the holy of holies–and are only to be approached by a pure heart.

To prepare for next time, let’s take a few lines from a letter that Keats wrote to his love Fanny Brawne: I have two luxuries to brood over in my walks, your loveliness and the hour of my death. O that I could have possession of them both in the same minute. It is strange to us to think of death as a luxurious thought, but with these poets we will encounter this idea many times. It’s not all about how wonderful and happy nature is–sometimes it’s about the awesomeness of the terribleness of nature.

Next time: The Beautiful and the Sublime

Visions and Dreams–or Don’t Blame the Opiate and Do Turn off Your Cell Phone!

Quickly, let’s rewind and bring some things together–in hopes that we’ll get everything together at the end:

The big thing to remember is our P.A.I.N. acronym. If nothing else I’ve said makes any sense, remember Primitivism, Art/Artist, the Individual, and Nature. This is the paradigm by which the Romantics–intentionally or not–mostly wrote their poetry.

Think of a paradigm as a pair of glasses. Just imagine Wordsworth, sitting on a hill, getting bored, trying to get those creative juices flowing. Reaching into his coat pocket, he takes out a small brown leathern case, out of which he slides a pair of spectacles. As soon as he fits them onto the bridge of his nose, the world lights up in radiance. Looking up, he sees a field of daffodils and jots down a few lines:

I WANDER’D lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

 In the same way, other Romantics will put on these glasses and see the world through lenses of P.A.I.N. to create their poetry. Essentially, we want to learn to look through these spectacles just as the Romantics did to see what it was that shaped the way they saw the world and their poetry.

“Kubla Khan”

Of all the poems he wrote, Coleridge’s “Kubla Khan” and “Rime of the Ancient Mariner” stand as his most well-known. Chances are if you’ve read Coleridge at all, you’ve read one of these two. If you haven’t read either of them, you should definitely read both–but especially Kubla Khan since we’re about to learn from it.

No, not this Xanadu and not this Alf.Not Alf, but Alph...

Aside from some strange language, “Kubla Khan” is pretty straightforward. The author sees a vision of Xanadu, where not Citizen Kane, but Kubla Khan has decreed the building of a “stately pleasure dome,” which turns out is pretty amazing: caves of ice in the sun, the sacred river Alph running through it… sounds pretty “legit,” as they say. In another vision–or possibly the same–the author sees an Abyssinian maid playing a dulcimer, singing to him of Mount Abora.

 

 

 There’s just one problem :

The author can’t remember the song. Because of this, the dream is pretty much useless to him. His inability to remember disables his ability to create. This is the most important thing in “Kubla Khan.”

So far, we haven’t dealt a whole lot with the Art/Artist part of P.A.I.N., but Mr. Coleridge throws us right into it. The author’s inability to recall the song symbolizes Coleridge’s inability to properly recall this poem in its entirety.

I know what you’re thinking, BUT IT’S LONG ENOUGH ALREADY! Check out what Mr. Coleridge had to say about this poem:

The Author [Coleridge himself] continued for about three hours in a profound sleep…during which time he has the most vivid confidence, that he could not have composed less than from two to three hundred lines…

On awaking he appeared to himself to have a distinct recollection of the whole, and…instantly and eagerly wrote down the lines that are here presereved. At this moment he was unfortunately called out by a person on business from Porlock, and detained by him avoce an hour, and on his return to his room, found…that though he still retained some vague and dim recollection of the general purport of the vision…all the rest had passed away like the images on the surface of a stream into which a stone has been cast…”

So, that’s pretty lame, and it always happens doesn’t it? You’re working on some great masterpiece, having spent hours of time and energy, pouring it all into something that’s going to be amazing and then your cell vibrates… and it’s facebook… and someone you couldn’t care less about right now just said “Hi” on your Facebook wall. We’ve all been there! The parental knock on the door. The barking of annoying dogs. The telemarketer wanting to sell you a vaccuum cleaner…

Something Mr. Coleridge didn’t say, though he says in another manuscript, was that he was recreationally tripping on an opiate while he dreamed about Kubla Khan and Xanadu. Surprised? I mean, I guess that’s always our first thought after listening through Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon. It’s hard to imagine the readers of “Kubla Khan” thinking any differently… but we can only speculate. Let’s be fair, though, Mr. Coleridge was quite talented, and to blame his talent on an opium-induced dream is to deny him the recognition of his true creativity.

Application

1. I am obligated to say it, “Don’t do drugs to be creative!” But that’s not my main point here. I said it earlier, and I will again that to take away credit from the artist because of where his creation came from is, in a sense, a logical fallacy. Mr. Coleridge’s creation was of his imagination, and to say it is any more or any less is a disservice to him and his ability.

2. I challenge you to do the impossible (you know what’s coming don’t you?). For one whole day, or maybe an hour, or maybe only 30 minutes. Go outside or somewhere you can be isolated (whatever your definition of that is), turn off your cell phone, and create something. We can only speculate, but can you imagine the work of art that Mr. Coleridge would have created had he isolated himself for just a little while? If you really just cannot turn your cell off and get away, throw off your daily interruptions and distractions. I promise you’ll have a better time creating/working/or whatever you want to do.

Until next time…

In-between Update: GO GET BORED!

So, I wanna go back to talking about Wordsworth a little bit.

I was trying to find a blog to participate in about the Romantics. And I found nothing. Bummer. I guess I’m the only weirdo out here in cyberspace who gives a flip about the Romantics (yeah, I know that’s not true). Anyway, I did run across this article while looking around for some stuff on the Romantics

To sum it up, this guy is extolling the virtues of boredom. Apparently, some new research is saying that kids today aren’t bored enough, that boredom actually gets the creative juices flowing. The author of the article I ran across starts going off about the Romantics and Wordsworth.

And perhaps, spurred by some natural beauty we encounter in our retreat, we might create artistic beauty. The vague image in the back of the mind of our reflexive defender of boredom, whether or not this person has read a word of Wordsworth, is a guy sitting by himself in a field, surrounded by a host of golden daffodils, letting his mind wander lonely as a cloud, and then recollecting, in this moment of tranquility, the other host of golden daffodils he saw earlier that day, which he plans to write a poem about, or maybe paint a picture of. That, anyway, is the vague image in the back of my mind when I read about the neurological virtues of boredom.

I wish I had discussed more the idea of recalling beauty in tranquility. For Wordsworth, that’s a pretty important idea. It’s the way our mind works. Like Coleridge talks about with his imaginations, we gather experiences up and later, after they have mingled together,  we recall them and put them together in some new order.

The author talks specifically about children. And somehow, I completely overlooked Wordsworth’s views on childhood (which will come up when we hopefully talk about Blake). To Wordsworth, the child had the best imagination. Go read the Intimations Ode. Like, really, right now. It just might be the best poetry you’ve ever read.

Because the child is so soon come from God, the child sees everything around him with a sort of heavenly glow, as God sees the world. As the child grows older, worldly experience seeps in and replaces the Godly way of seeing creation. Andy might have some interesting things to say about how language actually changes the way things are seen in relation to Wordsworth’s theory.

Well, I think I’m gonna go get bored for a while and see if it will help me write my papers and think of interesting things to do with this blog.