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Thread: Literature, poetry... It really doesn't matter in the real world, does it?

  1. #16
    Registered User miyako73's Avatar
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    "A little side point, human beings are not the only creatures that express themselves. Off the top of my head animals that sing songs: dogs, birds (of course), whales/dolphins. I'm sure their are many more. Music is in the air, as is poetry. I read a book that said something of how poetry exists outside the page because poetry has it's roots in oral tradition and really poetry is the art of imitating speech. Whereas prose cannot exist outside the page. It has no connection to our world."

    This is interesting. The beat in Poetry not in prose mimics that of a heart or a pulse. It even flows like how we inhale and exhale. Maybe that's the reason why poetry stirs emotions more and is more effective.
    Last edited by miyako73; 01-22-2013 at 08:54 PM.
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  2. #17
    Artist and Bibliophile stlukesguild's Avatar
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    "I must study politics and war that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history, naval architecture, navigation, commerce, and agriculture, in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry, and porcelain."- John Adams, 2nd U.S. President 1735-1826

    I agree with Adams in believing that the arts are something essential to being human. William Blake, John Ruskin, William Morris and many others...

    I immediately think of William Faulkner's Nobel Prize acceptance speech...

    http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_priz...er-speech.html

    ...have all argued as to the moral value of art... and the value of art upon human morale. Morris, especially, recognized that art had a value upon human morale both to the creator and the viewer. He recognized, like Blake, the dangers of industrialization... that the industrial revolution had resulted in the elimination of the craftsman who created an object from start to finish... and could take pride in his achievement... and had reduced him to a mere to a mere interchangeable laborer... one of many working on an assembly-line, who at the end of the week had nothing to show for his time and effort but a paycheck. Morris also recognized that this same individual went home to live in a building no different from his neighbor's filled with mass-produced crap that was wholly utilitarian: functional... yet lacking any attention to the aesthetic. This, Morris suggested, was a large part of modern humanity's spiritual malaise... the sense that we were all nothing more than cogs in the machine... lacking anything unique to offer... easily replaced. Morris felt that working as a craftsman and filling one's dwelling-place with objects that one considered "beautiful" was both ennobling and humanizing.

    The American Abstract Expressionist painter, Robert Motherwell, actually went before the US Congress and argued against Modernist architectural practices: tract-housing and stripping the land for housing developments and ugly strip malls... declaring that such were not merely ugly, but also demoralizing and dehumanizing. Of course the politicians just nodded politely at the "crazy artist" and went on supporting the construction of hideous strip malls, etc... Now I am not naive enough to wholly accept the notion that art is ennobling in the way that the Romantics thought. We all know that many of the high-ranking Nazis were aesthetes... as were the murderous feuding families of the Italian Renaissance such as the Borgias, Medici, Orsini, etc... We all know the line from The Third Man, surely...

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cydkTy6GmFA

    Still it is perhaps telling that the wealthier suburbs now often boast of commercial districts with a sincere attention to aesthetics... a human sense... an illusion of the lovely ideal old town square... which suggests that the value of art upon human morale is not wholly unrecognized. Unfortunately, for better or worse, Art still remains the past-time and an entitlement of the wealthy.
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  3. #18
    Pièce de Résistance Scheherazade's Avatar
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    Would like to hear the argument behind this statement but LostPrincess will not make an appearance for the next 3 months and we will never find out.
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  4. #19
    All are at the crossroads qimissung's Avatar
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    Poetry matters. In addition to the other fine arguments here, I would like to add that, as humans we have the urge to create. And also, without art, in all it's varied forms, our very souls are impoverished.

    "If of thy mortal goods thou art bereft,
    And from thy slender store two loaves alone to thee are left,
    Sell one, and with the dole
    Buy hyacinths to feed thy soul."


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    In order to survive fully, we must have beauty.
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  5. #20
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    Of course they matter. William Carlos Williams has an eloquent line affirming the necessity for poetry: "Men have died for lack of what is written there."
    (Paraphrasing)

    ... and a soundtrack of big-band jazz. This is the sort of utilitarianism that someone like Oscar Wilde was speaking against: the "use" of art to promote ideas or values other than those of the artist, be it that of the nation/state, the church, etc...
    Gosh, I couldn't disagree with this more. As an aficionado of Big Band Jazz,I would say that propaganda was the last thing on the minds of the Duke, the Count, Woody Herman, Artie Shaw, and Benny Goodman. Just because big band jazz flourished during the 1940s doesn't necessarily mean there was anything intrinsically jingoistic about it. Social justice did however play a part with Artie and Benny, as both made a conscientious gestures toward racial integration, as the former's band included Billie Holiday and the latter's, Lionel Hampton. Additionally, American jazz artists such as Goodman, Louis Armstrong and (later) Dave Brubeck were unofficial cultural ambassadors overseas. But to assert that an art form that encompasses both individual virtuosity (e.g. improvisation) and the collective effort of a band is in any way "utilitarian" is flat-out wrong, in my ever-increasingly humble opinion.

    Unfortunately, for better or worse, Art still remains the past-time and an entitlement of the wealthy.
    I say "for worse" because the last thing poor people need is more deprivation. Though seldom encouraged by the ruling class to do so, academics and social reformers have discovered that the arts and humanities can actually help people of the lower classes get "a leg up.":

    http://www.online-literature.com/for...Defeat-Poverty

    (Of course, this notion might seem as if it is steering art back to the dreadful realm of utilitarianism --I agree with your disdain for it, StLuke'sGuild -- but it is to be hoped that once people develop an appreciation for the arts, they will realize the principle of ars gratia artis -- or at least one would hope so!)

    And finally, why will the original poster (LostPrincess) be in absentia for the next ninety days? And how do you know this?
    Last edited by AuntShecky; 01-29-2013 at 06:15 PM. Reason: misspelling

  6. #21
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    Truth be told the real world for the individual is a rather finite affair. Truth be told even Napoleon didn't really matter.

  7. #22
    Artist and Bibliophile stlukesguild's Avatar
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    Gosh, I couldn't disagree with this more. As an aficianado of Big Band Jazz,I would say that propaganda was the last thing on the minds of the Duke, the Count, Woody Herman, Artie Shaw, and Benny Goodman.

    The intentions of the artists aren't really at issue. I doubt that Jackson Pollock...



    or Mark Rothko...



    ... were at all interested in promoting American Capitalist values vs the Cold-War Era Soviets... but the US State Department employed both Abstract Expressionist paintings and jazz as a means of suggesting the greater freedom of the American way of life. Jazz was employed in a similar manner during WWII. And there were indeed propagandist efforts made by many of the biggest names of the era:

    "The White Cliffs of Dover" - Jimmy Dorsey
    "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy" - Andrews Sisters
    "Der Fuehrer's Face" - Spike Jones
    "When The Lights Go On Again (All Over The World)" - Vaughn Monroe & His Orchestra
    Don't Sit Under The Apple Tree (With Anyone Else But Me) - Andrews Sisters

    Any number of performers participated in WWII USO shows. One of the most intriguing, was Marlene Dietrich who turned down highly lucrative offers from the Nazis to return to Germany. She was a regular performer for the USO... performing for Allied troops on the front lines in Algeria, Italy, England and France, and went into Germany with Generals James M. Gavin and George S. Patton. When asked why she had done this, in spite of the obvious danger of being within a few kilometres of German lines, she replied, "aus Anstand" — "out of decency". Dietrich was awarded the Medal of Freedom by the US in 1945. She said that this was her proudest accomplishment.[25] She was also awarded the Légion d'honneur by the French government as recognition for her wartime work.

    Her song, Lili Marleen, was recorded in both German and English and became the favorite of British and German forces...

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bUsePoATbrU

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZLU8ybLaI2k

    Perhaps the favorite of the Allies was Vera Lynn's We'll Meet Again (famously used in Dr. Strangelove)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R9Tw16dNyJs

    The Wikipedia thread on Music used as Propaganda in WWII notes that the Allies... especially the US and UK had an advantage in that the desires of most people and most musicians were in line with that of the leaders/government. This meant the American and British government could count on popular music reflecting much of the same war aims that the government wanted. The people of America wanted a quick final victory over the Axis without compromise. The Allies promoted popular music and jazz as the Democratic/Egalitarian music of the people vs the "eltist" music of the Nazis such as Wagner's beloved Wagner. In reality, the German population was just as enamored with jazz as the Americans, while many of the modern classical musicians and composers were clearly anti-Nazi and/or outlawed by the Nazis.

    Social justice did however play a part with Artie and Benny, as both made a conscientious gestures toward racial integration, as the former's band included Billie Holiday and the latter's, Lionel Hampton. Additionally, American jazz artists such as Goodman, Louis Armstrong and (later) Dave Brubeck were unofficial cultural ambassadors overseas.

    One has to wonder just how successful such efforts at promoting the superiority of the American culture were when one considers other musicians such as Sidney Beckett and Dexter Gordon who found it easier to live in Paris than in the US... simply because they were Black.

    I say "for worse"...

    That's open to debate. We have seen a shift in the arts from art dominated by the wealthy and educated to art dominated by the masses. Has music improved? I'll leave that up to you? Are Dan Brown, Twilight and Harry Potter a step up from James Joyce and T.S. Eliot?

    Though seldom encouraged by the ruling class to do so, academics and social reformers have discovered that the arts and humanities can actually help people of the lower classes get "a leg up."... Of course, this notion might seem as if it is steering art back to the dreadful realm of utilitarianism --I agree with your disdain for it, StLuke'sGuild -- but it is to be hoped that once people develop an appreciation for the arts, they will realize the principle of ars gratia artis -- or at least one would hope so!

    A noble ideal... but I am resigned to believe that a passion for the "fine arts" will always be reserved to a limited audience. This has evolved from an audience born into wealth and power and education to an audience whose passion for art is an elective affinity... a choice. But I have have absolutely no faith in Democratic or Egalitarian political systems when it comes to the appreciation and support of the arts. We all know that the arts are the first thing cut during times of economic woes.
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  8. #23
    TobeFrank Paulclem's Avatar
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    A noble ideal... but I am resigned to believe that a passion for the "fine arts" will always be reserved to a limited audience. This has evolved from an audience born into wealth and power and education to an audience whose passion for art is an elective affinity... a choice. But I have have absolutely no faith in Democratic or Egalitarian political systems when it comes to the appreciation and support of the arts. We all know that the arts are the first thing cut during times of economic woes.

    It is all about access, micro culture, exposure - lots of factors. In my own case, I really like Peter and the Wolf. I suspect that how I feel about that music, is how others feel about classical music in general. the fact is that I heard Peter and the Wolf at school through a teacher who wanted to share it with us, and who may have had some understanding of what effect it could have. I was 9. Otherwise i had little or no exposure to classical stuff, and so I have never developed any deep appreciation of it. It's the same with fine art, opera, ballet. The one thing i did have exposure to from an early age is literature. I was lucky coming from where I did, but my shortcomings in terms of being cultured are glaringly obvious.

    I don't know what the answer would be - it's not something you can impose, as Shakespeare has been - without perhaps a number of other factors - parents, peers, family in general all sharing some kind of appreciation. The poorer end of society are not exposed, and so their children are not exposed. The whole idea becomes a defining characteristic, and people develop their own culture - just as Black Music was developed, and all the genres of modern music.

  9. #24
    Artist and Bibliophile stlukesguild's Avatar
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    I agree that artistic tastes are in a majority of instances defined by the artistic culture that we are immersed in. In many instances I see that in the musical tastes of members here. I suspect that the best education may achieve is to expose individuals to alternatives. But this exposure is up against immersion. If you are immersed in the popular music of the moment... all your peers play it, talk about it, love it... you hear it continually on the radio or TV... what are the chances that a passing exposure to Richard Strauss' Alpine Symphony or Bach's Well Tempered Clavier is going to change your world?

    I'm reminded of that scene in The Confederacy of Dunces in which the main character, Ignatius is employed by a pants manufacturer. Visiting the factory he discerns a problem with morale and assumes that it must be due to the crude jazz music blaring forth from the loudspeakers. However, upon turning off the offending noise he finds that workers all become outraged demanding he turn the music back on. As someone obsessed with Renaissance music and Gregorian Chants, he cannot fathom how they could possibly love the cacophony of sounds coming out of the speakers... and can only presume they have been brainwashed in a Pavlovian manner into actually believing that they like it. To a great extent... this is true.

    How many teens and twenty-somethings have we had here who became outraged when someone suggested Harry Potter... or A Catcher in the Rye... or any populist novel wasn't all that? I suspect that the number of us who are passionate about music or art or literature beyond the realm of that we were immersed in is quite limited... and I doubt it is the result of a mere exposure to artistic alternatives. There must be more involved... a conscious decision to dig deeper... a curiosity to seek out alternatives.

    I know from my own experience that I had little exposure to anything but popular and country music as a child, and art was virtually non-existent. Years later, after visiting my in my apartment, my father asked my brother, "Who's he think he is. Does he think he's better than all of us with all those books?" as if the reason I had so many books (reading them not being a possibility) was simply to take on airs.

    As an art teacher in an urban district I spend my days offering what exposure to the arts that I can (outside of that promoted by the mass-media and popular culture). But I am quite aware of how futile an endeavor this is in a majority of instances, which may account for much of my distrust of Democracy and Egalitarianism with regard to the arts. Popular culture... which some champion as the arts of the masses... is really the art of the mass-media, and has drowned out most alternative voices.
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    Another quote: "Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world." (Percy B. Shelley)

    A lot of our words and sayings come from literature, of course, and it has been used in song and put on the screen. There are many famous expressions and cliches, even if we don't know where they come from. Even those who scoff at the usefulness of it all have been shaped by it. They may say they have no time for poetry while singing a song they like. They may use or hear words and expressions that exist because some writer put them down at some point. Writing helps shape thought, and we all have been touched by it, directly or indirectly. The ability to understand others, and to express yourself well, is just as important now as ever.
    Last edited by jajdude; 01-24-2013 at 11:44 PM.

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    To say literature does not matter in the real world is likened to feelings, passions do not matter. Or to put more expressively there is no room for sentiments, sublimity in this world. The world has been mechanized, no doubt but not completely and there is still a little space for humanity, love, passion. We are not totally robotic, though we are graduating into that state. We still are not bereft of passion, of kindness, sincerity when we just confront a situation in which humans suffer the insufferable. Of course robotized life styles, automated workplaces, and the news we hear every morning about the countless children dying of starvation, malnutrition, of curable diseases and the like gives some indication that humans are getting more and more insensitive,but sill there is a ray of hope and indeed literature gives this hope.

  12. #27
    Registered User ralfyman's Avatar
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    OP is probably referring to the proliferation of commercial mass entertainment, such as television.

  13. #28
    Registered User mona amon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by stlukesguild View Post
    As an art teacher in an urban district I spend my days offering what exposure to the arts that I can (outside of that promoted by the mass-media and popular culture). But I am quite aware of how futile an endeavor this is in a majority of instances, which may account for much of my distrust of Democracy and Egalitarianism with regard to the arts. Popular culture... which some champion as the arts of the masses... is really the art of the mass-media, and has drowned out most alternative voices.
    StLukes, what do you mean by democracy and egalitarianism with regard to the arts? Who is going to (or trying to) bring this about? I can only think of free libraries, museums and art galleries and such, so everyone can have access (and actually the internet is a great democratizer in this way, at least for people who have access to a computer), but that is not what you meant, right?
    Exit, pursued by a bear.

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    There is more of course, Educational System for example works hard to make some art "accessible" to all, this include the fact the majority of population can read. And before the Internet, you had tv shows, encyclopedias and other collections taking artworks that would be restrict to museums to every house. Heck, even money had it, so everyone could know them.

  15. #30
    TobeFrank Paulclem's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by stlukesguild View Post
    I agree that artistic tastes are in a majority of instances defined by the artistic culture that we are immersed in. In many instances I see that in the musical tastes of members here. I suspect that the best education may achieve is to expose individuals to alternatives. But this exposure is up against immersion. If you are immersed in the popular music of the moment... all your peers play it, talk about it, love it... you hear it continually on the radio or TV... what are the chances that a passing exposure to Richard Strauss' Alpine Symphony or Bach's Well Tempered Clavier is going to change your world?

    I'm reminded of that scene in The Confederacy of Dunces in which the main character, Ignatius is employed by a pants manufacturer. Visiting the factory he discerns a problem with morale and assumes that it must be due to the crude jazz music blaring forth from the loudspeakers. However, upon turning off the offending noise he finds that workers all become outraged demanding he turn the music back on. As someone obsessed with Renaissance music and Gregorian Chants, he cannot fathom how they could possibly love the cacophony of sounds coming out of the speakers... and can only presume they have been brainwashed in a Pavlovian manner into actually believing that they like it. To a great extent... this is true.

    How many teens and twenty-somethings have we had here who became outraged when someone suggested Harry Potter... or A Catcher in the Rye... or any populist novel wasn't all that? I suspect that the number of us who are passionate about music or art or literature beyond the realm of that we were immersed in is quite limited... and I doubt it is the result of a mere exposure to artistic alternatives. There must be more involved... a conscious decision to dig deeper... a curiosity to seek out alternatives.

    I know from my own experience that I had little exposure to anything but popular and country music as a child, and art was virtually non-existent. Years later, after visiting my in my apartment, my father asked my brother, "Who's he think he is. Does he think he's better than all of us with all those books?" as if the reason I had so many books (reading them not being a possibility) was simply to take on airs.

    As an art teacher in an urban district I spend my days offering what exposure to the arts that I can (outside of that promoted by the mass-media and popular culture). But I am quite aware of how futile an endeavor this is in a majority of instances, which may account for much of my distrust of Democracy and Egalitarianism with regard to the arts. Popular culture... which some champion as the arts of the masses... is really the art of the mass-media, and has drowned out most alternative voices.
    This is my experience - immersion in popular culture, the culture of my peers and my parents. I was very fortunate that I was able to develop in a literary way - as it was something unerstood as positive by my parents, whereas they had little or no knowledge of art, music, history, theatre etc etc.

    I also agree that few will become interested in it because of the power of popular culture over people in their formative years. The opprtunity to develop in these areas is afforded to our upper classes, the attenders at private school etc because of their parents and family intially, and then their school and peers.

    One way to improve this is through parents and grandparents. They do have an enormous influence on children - even if this is susumed by the children's later interests and the influence of peers. Of course, imposing "culture" through school wouldn't work, but an influential teaher may reach a few kids too. It's a bit sad that so few people are able to access a wider range of culture just because of where they were born.

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