Re: MD Poetic Quality

From: jainy maewood (
Date: Wed Oct 20 2004 - 17:59:48 BST

  • Next message: Arlo Bensinger: "Re: MD Poetic Quality"


    Thanks for the welcome. I just realized my hotmail addy needed an update.
    Jainy Maewood, but call me jain. BTW, I think ZMM should be required
    reading for all art students.

    Well, as a visual artist, for me style would not be a factor in quality and
    I'll tell you why I think this. If you look at say, a chinese landscape
    painting versus an impressionist landscape painting you may not know that
    the artists were attempting to do two very different things. Chinese
    painting was greatly influenced by a highly developing philosophy that went
    side by side with the development of painting - a coded language almost.
    The two were feeding each other so to speak. Impressionism, a way of
    looking at the world directly. A shunning of the idea that landscape should
    be painted in studio. A type of painting relying mostly on the ocular

    If you tried to compare the two in terms of quality, wouldn't it be like
    asking, which is better quality, apples or oranges? Some people would
    prefer the taste of apples, and some oranges...

    But, if you took two apples, same type, then you could compare things like
    texture, sour vs. sweet, pleasing aspects of form, smell, toughness of skin
    etc. And you probably could get people to agree on a level of quality that
    makes a good apple - from whatever aspect you are considering it...? I
    mean, no one likes a rotten apple! Just my humble opinion, but it's an
    interesting question.

    Side note: The interesting thing about visual arts though, over the test of
    time, people do tend to agree with quality issues, there is a sense of why
    we should keep looking at certain paintings, no matter what style of

    Well, I hope Platt doesn't mind you saying that. But thanks, I'll keep
    reading, and if you don't mind, can I bring questions to this forum? I'm
    not a philosopher, but ZMM helped me to think about my own work in such a
    new way, that I felt I had to make time for Lila. Any comments on which you
    think is the higher "quality" book? he he : )

    Bye for now,

    >From: "Mark Steven Heyman" <>
    >Subject: Re: MD Poetic Quality
    >Date: Wed, 20 Oct 2004 07:06:59 -0700
    >Hi Platt, Mae, all
    >Platt, I too think Jabberwocky is terrific. And I'm not surprised
    >you're drawn to Lewis Carroll, as you are often through the looking
    >glass :-)
    >For the comparison, I thought it would be best to use examples of
    >recent poetry, written in the same language and approaching the same
    >subject. The authors of these poems are contemporaries (born in the
    >20's a few years apart, one still going strong as far as I know; the
    >other died in 1985).
    >Mae, you may be right that the styles are too different for fair
    >comparison, but I hope not because I think it would be interesting to
    >see if people decide that style is a factor in determining quality.
    >And don't worry about not having finished LILA. My friend Platt has
    >read it dozens of times and STILL doesn't understand it.
    >There's no reason why we should limit ourselves to these two poems.
    >I hope everyone feels free to offer their own candidates. I just
    >think it makes more sense to compare contemporaries, but that's me.
    >Thanks to all,
    >On 20 Oct 2004 at 8:15, Platt Holden wrote:
    >My sense of quality finds both poems very low quality, especially
    >when compared to:
    >Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
    > Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
    >All mimsy were the borogoves,
    > And the mome raths outgrabe.
    >Mark Steven Heyman wrote:
    > > >Hi all,
    > > >
    > > >I love the bit in ZMM where Phaedrus demonstrates to his students
    > > >that they know what Quality is, even if they can't define it. I
    > > >thought it might be fun and instructive to try something similar
    > > >here. So, which of the following poems has the highest quality,
    > > >and why? (Note: I think both of these poems are great, so this is
    > > >no straw man operation here.)
    > > >
    > > > For the Anniversary of My Death
    > > >
    > > > Every year without knowing it I have passed the day
    > > > When the last fires will wave to me
    > > > And the silence will set out
    > > > Tireless traveller
    > > > Like the beam of a lightless star
    > > >
    > > > Then I will no longer
    > > > Find myself in life as in a strange garment
    > > > Surprised at the earth
    > > > And the love of one woman
    > > > And the shamelessness of men
    > > > As today writing after three days of rain
    > > > Hearing the wren sing and the falling cease
    > > > And bowing not knowing to what
    > > > Sad Steps
    > > >
    > > >Groping back to bed after a piss
    > > >I part the thick curtains, and am startled by
    > > >The rapid clouds, the moon's cleanliness.
    > > >
    > > >Four o'clock: wedge-shaped gardens lie
    > > >Under a cavernous, a wind-pierced sky.
    > > >There's something laughable about this,
    > > >
    > > >The way the moon dashes through the clouds that blow
    > > >Loosely as cannon-smoke to stand apart
    > > >(Stone-coloured light sharpening the roofs below)
    > > >
    > > >High and preposterous and separate--
    > > >Lozenge of love! Medallion of art!
    > > >O wolves of memory! Immensements! No,
    > > >
    > > >One shivers slightly, looking up there.
    > > >The hardness and the brightness and the plain
    > > >Far-reaching singleness of that wide stare
    > > >
    > > >Is a reminder of the strength and pain
    > > >Of being young; that it can't come again,
    > > >But is for others undiminished somewhere.
    > > >Thanks for any feedback,
    > > >Mark Steven Heyman (msh)
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