‘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 12 September 2014

Adulthood's End?

"Nobody knows how to be a grown-up anymore. Adulthood as we have known it has become conceptually untenable."

'The Death of Adulthood in American Culture' by A O Scott. The article everyone's talking about (today, at any rate). It's very interesting, though -- I think -- wrong. How and why it's wrong will take a bit of unpacking, so I'm parking the link here until I've a bit more time.


  1. My friend Pam Thurschwell expressed her reservations on this essay over on facebook: "it seems like there are some very basic concepts missing here. Isn't adulthood is an economic construct which is disappearing because fewer and fewer people can afford it? (Look, more childlike artists in the creative economy! More people living at home with their parents!) Isn't adulthood the problem, not extended childhood? "

  2. These storyfied tweets also constitute a very interesting response to this essay: https://storify.com/JeetHeer1/a-o-scott-and-death-of-adulthood-a-close-read