‘Could a rule be given from without, poetry would cease to be poetry, and sink into a mechanical art. It would be μóρφωσις, not ποίησις. The rules of the IMAGINATION are themselves the very powers of growth and production. The words to which they are reducible, present only the outlines and external appearance of the fruit. A deceptive counterfeit of the superficial form and colours may be elaborated; but the marble peach feels cold and heavy, and children only put it to their mouths.’ [Coleridge, Biographia ch. 18]

‘ποίησις’ (poiēsis) means ‘a making, a creation, a production’ and is used of poetry in Aristotle and Plato. ‘μóρφωσις’ (morphōsis) in essence means the same thing: ‘a shaping, a bringing into shape.’ But Coleridge has in mind the New Testament use of the word as ‘semblance’ or ‘outward appearance’, which the KJV translates as ‘form’: ‘An instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes, which hast the form [μóρφωσις] of knowledge and of the truth in the law’ [Romans 2:20]; ‘Having a form [μóρφωσις] of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away’ [2 Timothy 3:5]. I trust that's clear.

There is much more on Coleridge at my other, Coleridgean blog.

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Plan To Correspond With The Moon Via Giant Geometrical Shapes, 1827

CORRESPONDENCE WITH THE MOON. The astronomer Gruithuisen, who maintains that he has discovered by his telescope, such marks of artificial instructions in the moon, as could only be the work of intelligent beings like ourselves, is even of opinion at a correspondence with them might be established. His plan is familiar to one communicated many years ago by Gans to Zimmermann; namely, to erect a geometrical figure on the plains of Siberia; since a correspondence with the Lunarians could only be begun by means of such mathematical contemplations and ideas as we and they must have in common. It is but right to notice, however, that Noggeruth, the geologist. while he does not deny the accuracy of the description published by Gruithuisen, contends that all these appearances are owing to vast whin dykes, or trap veins, rising above the general lunar surface. [Spirit of the English Magazines (1827), 47]

Gruithuisen (Wikipedia tells us) 'made multiple observations of the lunar surface that supported his beliefs, including his announcement of the discovery of a city in the rough terrain to the north of Schröter crater he named the Wallwerk.' Then, rather disappointingly the Encyclopedia Contemporeana Onlinea adds: 'this region contains a series of somewhat linear ridges that have a fishbone-like pattern, and, with the small refracting telescope he was using, could be perceived as resembling buildings complete with streets.' Boo to this explanation, I say. I prefer to believe Wallwerk existed -- in which case, the burning mystery is WHAT HAPPENED TO IT? Let is immediately begin construction of the giant geometrical shapes in Sibera, say I.

But there's more! 'He is also noted for the discovery of bright caps on the cusps of the crescent Venus, and for being the first to suggest that craters on the Moon were caused by meteorite impacts. He proposed that jungles on Venus grew more rapidly than in Brazil due to the proximity of the planet to the Sun, and that as a consequence the inhabitants celebrated fire festivals— the cause of the bright caps on Venus.' Sounds plausible to me.

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