‘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, 25 August 2016

Andy Warhol and Donald Trump: a Fable for Today

Andy Warhol comes across in his own diaries as almost heroically vapid: shallow and judgmental, watching an endless string of Dynasty episodes and noting down every dollar he spent on cab fares (for tax purposes? Why else?). But one particular thread from this vast volume has acquired fresh relevance in the light of the the ongoing US Presidential race. Warhol meets Trump, April 1982:

'Donald Trump is really good-looking'. 'These people are so rich.' 'He's a butch guy.' It's looking good! Warhol does the work which, he comes to believe, he has been commissioned to do for Trump. Naturally Trump stiffs him.This makes Warhol cross.

'... and she was trying to get away and she did.' Fast forward to Jan 1984:

He agrees to take part in this Trump Tower jamboree, but deliberately turns up two hours late 'because I still hate the Trumps because they never bought the paintings I did of the Trump Tower'. Andy is sticking it to the Man! And it turns out there's another reason why Warhol hates Trump:

This is from 2 May 1984. 'And I just hate the Trumps because they never bought my Trump Tower portraits. And I also hate them because the cabs on the upper level of their ugly Hyatt Hotel just back up traffic so badly around Grand Central now and it takes me so long to get home.' And the final, brilliant touch of pathos: '(cab $6)'. We've come a long way from 'Donald Trump is really good-looking'.

American people: pay heed.