‘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.

Tuesday, 16 October 2018

W @ Auden, 2018



for Alan Jacobs


I sit here with my phone
Where fifty million voices
Are wrathful and alone
As unsocial social media
Frame adverse conversations;
Waves of anger and fear
Pour through all the websites
And webblindnesses of the earth,
Obsessing our private lives;
And the odour of Twitter affront
Offends the October night.

Future scholarship will
Unearth the whole offence
From Jack Dorsey until now
That has driven a culture mad:
Artificial unintelligence
Makes for collective backs
A psychopathic goad:
I and the State have repeated
What all schoolchildren learn:
Those at whom evil is tweeted
Tweet evil in return.

Thucydides' missing blue tick
Speaks volumes, or scrolls, about
Palsied Democracy,
And what US Presidents do,
The elderly rubbish they spout
To unapathetic hicks
All analysed in his thinkpiece:
The enlightenment baited our clicks,
The habit-forming pain,
Mismanagement and grief
We must suffer them all again.

All we have is a choice
To mute all the folded lies,
The multiple lies in the feed
Of the angry man-in-the-street
And the lie of Technology
Whose connections web the sky:
There is no compulsion to Tweet
There are two sides to every coin;
Addiction strengthens the voice
Of generic disturbers of peace;
We must follow each other or die.

Defenceless under the night
Our world in stupor lies;
Yet, dotted everywhere,
Ironic points of light
Flash out wherever the Just
Exchange their messages:
May I, composed like them
Of suspicion and of trust,
Synced to the same heartbeat
Of negation and despair,
Post an affirming tweet.

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