‘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.

Friday 28 June 2013


Enough Coleridge for a while. I chanced upon an old notebook in which I'd jotted down this line from a Thomas Jones London Review of Books article on zombies ['Les Zombies, C'est Vouz', LRB, 26 Jan 2012, 27-8], in which, whilst discussing the question of whether Night of the Living Dead is able to 'sublimate the racism indulged by its precursors' says the following:
In many respects,. Zulu qualifies as a zombie film, as do a fair number of cowboy and indian movies.
Really? I wonder. The question a Zombie text asks is: 'what died?' Or more specifically: 'the death of what refuses to go away?' I don't see that question as applying to Zulu terribly well -- it's more a Cyberman movie avant la lettre than a zombie flick.

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