Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Pessimistic Attempt at Illustrating the Transition Between Poetry and Psychological Impressionism

Is there a word for going into something and knowing you have a thirty percent chance of success? That thirty percent is arbitrary not factual, and might even be too optimistic in order to offer me some comfort. I have to be honest with myself and say I do not understand these essays by Wimsatt and Beardsley, as desperately as I want to. Both out of academic necessity and out of a desire to be an English scholar, and world renowned for my knowledge and wit. Well that won't be happening tonight...or maybe I have a thirty percent chance of that happening.

Of course, I don't want to come across as that kid who read the first page and immediately took a quote he thought fit the assignment...but that's totally what I did. I think my reasoning is that if I were to continue on reading (and something tells me I will inevitably have to prior to some impending test) I would get sucked into a rabbit hole of sesquipedality. So before that occurred I took what I could in order to let myself believe I understood, at least for one more day.

Okay, so here we go. Create a work of art that illustrates the affective fallacy. Done.
Step two: define affective fallacy in your own words...oh boy. Well...it's like saying you know what a poem is about because of the way it makes you feel. I think Wimsatt and Beardsley are saying that when they write, "The Affective Fallacy is a confusion between the poem and it's results (what it is and what it does)" (page 31) as in what it does to the reader. 

So I drew this crude picture with the idea of impressionism meeting the poem "The road not taken." I think the lack of artistic ability dismisses any possibility of pretentiousness, as pretentious as the previous sentence is sounding to me right now. This is all based on the end of page 31, when the authors are discussing the origins (or starting point or whatever) of the affective fallacy. They write, "It begins by trying to derive the standard of criticism from the psychological effects of the poem and ends in impressionism and relativism." I actually had to look up impressionism to understand the literary definition, which was secondary, and therefore the artistic definition, the primary one. What I found was that it was largely in paintings, and most of the paintings I saw were landscapes. So I battled conflicting demons raging inside me before setting out on my arduous journey. First, I wanted to convey an understanding of impressionism (and of course, the affective fallacy) but second, I had no desire to paint a luxurious landscape. I have a love/hate relationship with art. I admire it, I wish I was proficient at it, but my attention span doesn't last past the time it takes to doodle. So in an offensive slap to artists everywhere I'm sure, I doodled impressionism - lock me up, but first let me defend myself by saying "The road not taken," is short, not too detailed, and easy to take in all at once...like a doodle. I felt some obligation to oblige the overall theme though, and...doodled a landscape. Anyway, how does this reflect the affective fallacy? Well, I doodled how "The road not taken," makes me feel. Which is kind of fancy, and kind of ununified, not really whole, and kind of doubtful about my own life-journey. So the poem illustrates a yellow wood...my woods are yellow, but kind of a sappy brown...I put some bushes in there to give it character. The person beside the wood does not have much of a body. Head, bow tie (there's the poem making me feel fancy) and legs. This incomplete body is the disunification I feel when reading Frost's poem. It comes when I realize I could never write a poem like that. The doubtfulness comes in the lack of expression on the face, and the lack of any road drawn. Frost's narrator has two roads to choose from, I don't even see the roads (covered up by the bushes I guess).  Finally, the person (or what's left of them) is drawn in bright colors juxtaposed together as impressionism would do, and I think this shows the attention to immediate aspects and detracts from detail the way impressionism would do. Maybe that's how I go about reading poems initially, skipping over detail, but seeing the key aspects.

So I should sum this up...honestly I'm guilty of being of a fan of the intentional and affective fallacies. I feel like they are lenses I would want to use at some point depending on the work. Does the poem make me sad? Maybe that's a clue...did the author have a fascination with ducks? That's a clue! Oh well. What is it that makes affective fallacy...ineffective? Does it detract from the literal meaning? Is that a bad thing? Does affective fallacy actually make poems "disappear"? Am I even asking the right questions?!

Until next time...

1 comment:

  1. Ok, there is lots to love here! But how I wish you had persevered a bit more with the article. Try underlining paragraphs that you understand; try making notes in the margins to put even little chunks into your own words. When you get to a whole paragraph that makes no sense to you, consider marking it with a question or two and then asking about it in your post. Giving up too easily will really start to undermine your ability to do well in the course over time. Everything we read will be hard. Don't worry if you feel confused: just engage with it, ask about it, and don't back off it. You definitely have the overall idea of the theory down here, but of course we want to push into at least a few of the nuances as well...

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