‘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.

Saturday, 7 June 2014

Anti-Catholic Prejudice

This is a prejudice that runs very deep in British, and especially English, cultural history. I'm off to the Continent in a few days to lecture on Coleridge's Constitution of Church and State, and have been getting my thoughts in order about it. One rather trivial point: is there a -phobe term for it? A bigot who is prejudiced against gay people is a homophobe*; somehow prejudiced against muslims is a islamophobe and so on. What about someone who is prejudiced against Catholics? A Papophobe? It's a word that returns hits on a google search, but it sounds oddly to my ear -- in part because it sounds like a description of someone prejudiced against paper. I also wonder if it isn't marginally offensive (in the sense of being part of the historical rhetorical armoury of anti-Catholic discourse) to reduce an individual's Catholic faith to a mere allegiance to the Pope. Is there something else, vocabulary-wise?

*The internet being what it is, use of this term is liable to draw out bigots who are indeed prejudiced against gay people but who repudiate the descriptor on the grounds that 'phobe' means fear, and (I paraphrase, based on more than one such online interaction) 'I am in no way scared of gay people; I simply do not think they should be permitted to get married' and so on. The way to tackle such people is not to insist that their prejudice, being patently irrational, probably is based on fear actually, perhaps on a subconscious level. This may indeed be true; but it misses the point. The etymology of the word notwithstanding, the word is now in common use to mean a person with any one of a wide range of prejudiced and oppressive beliefs and behaviours where gay people are concerned. Common usage is your best bet, I'd say.

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