Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Poetry Archives #5: Art and Poetry vs. Discipline and Design

First posted May 2005.  The Wittingshire blog is no longer online, though.

Mama Squirrel was very impressed with a post on the Wittingshire blog. The Witts write (emphases mine),
"But beautifully wrought things like seagulls and sonnets don't merely bubble up from the cosmic flux; they arise from the effort of an intellect. Does the subconscious play a role for the skilled human poet? Of course. But as the biographies of the great poets attest, there is also discipline behind great art--both the discipline of regular work, of studying and practicing technique, and the discipline of form."
In other words, why should anyone waste time actually learning how poetry works or studying the elements of drawing? Isn't art just EXPRESSING yourself? Even in grade school Mama Squirrel found the command to take the jars of tempera and just PAINT SOMETHING a little oppressive...too much freedom, no form. Equally so the idea that writing one's name down the side of the paper and then adding suitable adjectives for each letter would create some kind of deathless poetry. (S: spry. Q: quick. U: U get the idea.) 
 "An artist disregards all governments, abolishes all conventions. The poet delights in disorder only. If it were not so, the most poetical thing in the world would be the Underground Railway." [says the anarchist Gregory] "So it is," said Mr. Syme...."Chaos is dull; because in chaos the train might indeed go anywhere, to Baker Street, or to Bagdad. But man is a magician, and his whole magic is in this, that he does say Victoria [Station], and lo! it is Victoria....You say contemptuously that when has left Sloane Square one must come to Victoria. I say that one might do a thousand things instead, and that whenever I really come there I have the sense of hair-breadth escape. And when I hear the guard shout out the word 'Victoria', it is not an unmeaning word. It is to me the cry of a herald announcing conquest. It is to me indeed 'Victoria'; it is the victory of Adam." -- G.K. Chesterton, The Man Who Was Thursday

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