‘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.

Thursday 6 June 2013

The Survival Lottery

I hadn't come across this before (you may need to click to embiggen. You may even need to click-and-zoom to embiggen. It's the first paragraph that intrigues me):

My first thought was: Ishiguro! Except, of course, the Never Let Me Go situation is not a lottery (save in the specialised sense that it's a cosmic lottery whether we're born rich or poor, exploiter or exploited and so on). But Ishiguro's novel does, intentionally or otherwise, and presumably otherwise, pinpoint one of the problems with the original thought-experiment here. It's supposed to be a way of framing the question 'if one person's death can save four or five lives, is moral to keep that person alive?' But organ transplant will work best if young, healthy organs are transplanted. If I've signed up to this Lottery and then drunk my liver into collapse and smoked my lungs into tarry deseutude, I don't want organs transplanted from a similarly dissolute decades-of-smoking-and-drinking type, now, do I. This 'lottery' would not guarantee the optimal results. No, we need something that slants the 'donor' ticket towards the young, and the 'recipient' ticket towards the old ...

In other news: Tarry Deseutude is the name of my next band.


  1. The moral objections could be assuaged if not allayed (and there's the title of your band's first album for you right there) if the scheme was a voluntary one: to qualify as an organ recipient you must have played the lottery in your youth - when you were aged 18-25, say - and not had your number drawn. No certainty of having a longer life without running the risk of having a short one.

    As a society's self-preservation scheme, it makes at least as much sense as national service.

  2. How would you phase it in? The present +25 would not be entitled to the organs, never having lived through the russian-roulette phase of the process; and the 18-25s would be donating organs for nobody ...?

    I'm nitpicking. I know I am.

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