Sunday, August 31, 2014

Something I Read #1 — Wheeler, Sources, Processes and Methods

From: Kathleen Wheeler's Sources, Processes and Methods in Coleridge's Biographia Literaria (Cambridge UP, 1980).

In the specific application of art to this demand for reflection and self-consciousness in the subject, the formulation is a demand for control by the artist over his material. 'Selbst-beherrschung durch Selbstbeschränking' [self-control through self-limiting] is the first reflective act for the artist in relation to his material. This self-consciousness we can relate to the more general conception above of the perceiver or subject in relation to the world. The artist must be in control of his material so that he does not embody his own unconscious limitations, his prejudices, customs, and habitual responses, all the things which constitute his ego, into his 'material' or into the works of art. If he fails to restrict this tendency of the ego to image itself into everything it does and knows, his art will be limited and lacking in universality. But this conscious process is permeated by another process which we might refer to as instinct, or the energy of the infinite and the 'unconscious'. Genius is the interpenetration of the 'Absicht' by the 'Instinkt': 'In jedem guten Gedicht muss alles Absicht, un alles Instinkt seyn' ['In every good poem everything must be intention and instinct.']

(First translation mine, using the language of the book.)

In every good poem everything must be intention and instinct: the opposite of the diaretics of contemporary poetry culture.

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