‘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, 23 February 2014

Book ideas

Not SF, so parked here rather than anywhere else. A novel about an imaginary literary prize, covering the six judges' different, intertwining backstories; also including detailed accounts of the six (imaginary) novels on the shortlist, enough detail that actually writing any of the six would be a doddle. Lots of space for intrigue, plotting, human interaction of the love and the hate varieties.

Also: one of the six; a novel called 'The Apologiser', about an individual hired by businesses, or a political elite, to shape and deliver apologies in a way that limits fallout and feels genuine. The rationale for such a person would be: even the most efficient organisation, committed (as we certainly are) to getting it right as consistently and completely as humanly possible, will occasionally mess-up. Even achieving 95% leaves a 5% residue, and for the people affected by that the failures in question have a much more than 5% impact on their lives, and therefore have a more than 5% impact on our continuing smooth operation. It is therefore only good practice to dedicate a proportion of our resources to that 5%: more than just a call-centre voice on the end of a phone.

1 comment:

  1. I think Edward St Aubyn's about-to-be-released 'Lost for Words' is the first novel on your list.