View RSS Feed

Imported Poems


Rate this Entry
There’s a reason why Dorian and Phoenix are isolated individuals who exist midway between human and something else - it is how I feel.

My parents and son (my only friends are my family) are gone. My son is moving permanently to Kentucky to live with my brother; my parents will be gone for 3 months.

I have no one to relate to here, and as I grow older and more eccentric, I am afraid that is becoming ubiquitous. A wise minister once told me it may be my friends can only be found in books, and he was right. My best friends are dead authors. Oscar Wilde is especially dear to me these days.

I finished “The Decay of Lying” a few days ago, and I wished to reach through the book and kiss the man on the lips. Not only did he perfectly articulate my feelings about modern lit, but he also justified those feeling with numerous literary references, many of which were French and thus unread by me.

He argues that art should be beautiful, and that realism is course, vulgar and uncreative. Since it takes all its subject-matter, material and form from real life, it can be done by anyone without imagination.

Consider these highlights:

The ancient historians gave us delightful
fiction in the form of fact; the modem novelist presents us with
dull facts under the guise of fiction. The Blue-Book is rapidly
becoming his ideal both for method and manner. He has his tedious
document humain, his miserable little coin de la creation, into
which he peers with his microscope. He is to be found at the
Librairie Nationale, or at the British Museum, shamelessly reading
up his subject. He has not even the courage of other people's
ideas, but insists on going directly to life for everything, and
ultimately, between encyclopaedias and personal experience, he
comes to the ground, having drawn his types from the family circle
or from the weekly washerwoman, and having acquired an amount of
useful information from which never, even in his most meditative
moments, can he thoroughly free himself.

It is simply one example out of many;
and if something cannot be done to check, or at least to modify,
our monstrous worship of facts, Art will become sterile, and beauty
will pass away from the land.

The horses of Mr. William Black's phaeton do
not soar towards the sun. They merely frighten the sky at evening
into violent chromolithographic effects. On seeing them approach,
the peasants take refuge in dialect. Mrs. Oliphant prattles
pleasantly about curates, lawn-tennis parties, domesticity, and
other wearisome things. Mr. Marion Crawford has immolated himself
upon the altar of local colour. He is like the lady in the French
comedy who keeps talking about "le beau ciel d'Italie."

<THIS ONE IS SO TRUE FOR ME! I say "the people in my head are more real to me than flesh and blood these days">

The only real people are the people who never existed...

Pure modernity of form is always somewhat vulgarising. It cannot
help being so. The public imagine that, because they are
interested in their immediate surroundings, Art should be
interested in them also, and should take them as her subject-
matter. But the mere fact that they are interested in these things
makes them unsuitable subjects for Art. The only beautiful things,
as somebody once said, are the things that do not concern us.

modernity of form and modernity of subject-
matter are entirely and absolutely wrong. We have mistaken the
common livery of the age for the vesture of the Muses, and spend
our days in the sordid streets and hideous suburbs of our vile
cities when we should be out on the hillside with Apollo.

Even in
Shakespeare we can see the beginning of the end. It shows itself
by the gradual breaking-up of the blank-verse in the later plays,
by the predominance given to prose, and by the over-importance
assigned to characterisation. The passages in Shakespeare--and
they are many--where the language is uncouth, vulgar, exaggerated,
fantastic, obscene even, are entirely due to Life calling for an
echo of her own voice, and rejecting the intervention of beautiful
style, through which alone should life be suffered to find
expression. Shakespeare is not by any means a flawless artist. He
is too fond of going directly to life, and borrowing life's natural
utterance. He forgets that when Art surrenders her imaginative
medium she surrenders everything. Goethe says, somewhere -

In der Beschrankung zeigt Fsich erst der Meister,

"It is in working within limits that the master reveals himself,"
and the limitation, the very condition of any art is style.

As the inevitable result of this substitution
of an imitative for a creative medium, this surrender of an
imaginative form, we have the modern English melodrama. The
characters in these plays talk on the stage exactly as they would
talk off it; they have neither aspirations nor aspirates; they are
taken directly from life and reproduce its vulgarity down to the
smallest detail; they present the gait, manner, costume and accent
of real people; they would pass unnoticed in a third-class railway
carriage. And yet how wearisome the plays are! They do not
succeed in producing even that impression of reality at which they
aim, and which is their only reason for existing. As a method,
realism is a complete failure.

Now, everything is changed. Facts are
not merely finding a footing-place in history, but they are
usurping the domain of Fancy, and have invaded the kingdom of
Romance. Their chilling touch is over everything. They are
vulgarising mankind. The crude commercialism of America, its
materialising spirit, its indifference to the poetical side of
things, and its lack of imagination and of high unattainable
ideals, are entirely due to that country having adopted for its
national hero a man who, according to his own confession, was
incapable of telling a lie, and it is not too much to say that the
story of George Washington and the cherry-tree has done more harm,
and in a shorter space of time, than any other moral tale in the
whole of literature.'

'Art finds her own perfection within, and not outside of, herself.
She is not to be judged by any external standard of resemblance.
She is a veil, rather than a mirror. She has flowers that no
forests know of, birds that no woodland possesses. She makes and
unmakes many worlds, and can draw the moon from heaven with a
scarlet thread. Hers are the "forms more real than living man,"
and hers the great archetypes of which things that have existence
are but unfinished copies. Nature has, in her eyes, no laws, no
uniformity. She can work miracles at her will, and when she calls
monsters from the deep they come. She can bid the almond-tree
blossom in winter, and send the snow upon the ripe cornfield. At
her word the frost lays its silver finger on the burning mouth of
June, and the winged lions creep out from the hollows of the Lydian
hills. The dryads peer from the thicket as she passes by, and the
brown fauns smile strangely at her when she comes near them. She
has hawk-faced gods that worship her, and the centaurs gallop at
her side.'

(Or vampires and Sang and other supernatural creatures)



  1. mtpspur's Avatar
    I am in sorrow for you. The loss of your son is and must be hard to bear. I offer what friendship I have to you freely and I know you know I am always available to you as well as many here on the forum would also be. I live in ope of better times ahead for you as the shadows are finally strarting to lift on my end up here. Love Rich
  2. andave_ya's Avatar
    Countess I am so dreadfully sorry for the loss of your son. That is definitely intensely painful and I wish there was something I could do. I understand what you mean about having only books as friends. Um, based on what I've felt, I honestly can't say that I think that's a bad thing. Realism is somewhat vulgar, but after reading Dostoevsky I changed my mind about Realism being awful to Realism having merits. I think that humankind is capable of many things - the nobility of work, for example, - that when properly emphasized in a story lend it elements that people aspire and look up to, especially those who don't have the imagination to see the beauty and principles in other genres. Cheers to you, Countess, and I hope and pray that things'll look up soon.
  3. Countess's Avatar
    Andave - you made me smile with Dostoevsky being "realist". He's generally considered a metaphysical writer whose characters capture a psychological archetype or idea. Did you fall in love with him because he wrote from a 3D reality point of view (post modern realism sticks with the facts) or because his characters had psychological and theological depth? Granted, you may identify with his characters because you yourself are psychologically deep, theoretically contemplative, etc but the majority of people aren't, and today's realists prefer scribing mental whack jobs who lack the self-awareness to understand what lies behind their life problems (poverty, addiction, disease, divorce, etc)
  4. andave_ya's Avatar
    Erm, erm, like Faulkner instead? Or Tolstoy?? Are they considered realist? I laughed too when I read your comment - it's funny to think how I was trying to phrase my comment properly and instead committed a (literary) faux pas. I love Dostoevsky because of his characters, yes, they have major depth to them and it is a deep pleasure to dig into their characters.
  5. Countess's Avatar
    You know I was just giving ya a hard time Andave. (-: Yes, Faulkner is a half man: half right and half wrong. I submit to you this quote, which stands in direct contradiction to everything Oscar Wilde stood for: "
    The aim of every artist is to arrest motion, which is life, by artificial means and hold it fixed so that a hundred years later, when a stranger looks at it, it moves again since it is life. Since man is mortal, the only immortality possible for him is to leave something behind him that is immortal since it will always move. This is the artist's way of scribbling "Kilroy was here" on the wall of the final and irrevocable oblivion through which he must someday pass."
    That's pure egoism to the core. I don't wish to write "Tanya was here" but "Dorian was a sublime angelic being", and "Jules was a precious piece of prettiness". They're 10x more interesting and compelling than I could ever hope to be................................................ ...........
    As for Tolstoy - I met a Russian lady recently who told me in Russia, one is either a Dostoevsky person or a Tolstoy person. I suppose that's their version of a cat person or a dog person. In any case I don't think it is so much a comparison of opposites as it is mere variations. Tolstoy was Russia's Oscar Wilde in many ways: witty at times, he prefered mocking the aristocracy by writing about their society. While Dostoevsky focused on unraveling the individual; Tolstoy unraveled society. Realism, from Wilde's point of view, always focuses on the mean and mundane - middle class or poverty stricken America, which he argues is uncreative because people live it every day. In his view, the proper subject should always be that which is different from us, that which takes us out of our own world (your LOTR is a perfect example) and that our desire to read realism is nothing more than the narcissist desiring to see his own reflection in the literary mirror.
  6. tamilse's Avatar
    Truly said...... Really impressive
    [QUOTE=andave_ya;bt22076]Erm, erm, like Faulkner instead? Or Tolstoy?? Are they considered realist? I laughed too when I read your comment - it's funny to think how I was trying to phrase my comment properly and instead committed a (literary) faux pas.[/QUOTE] I love Dostoevsky because of his characters, and ----[QUOTE=andave_ya;bt22076]yes, they have major depth to them and it is a deep pleasure to dig into their characters.[/QUOTE]
    Updated 07-11-2016 at 12:47 AM by tamilse