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Posted by: drpeternsz (
Date: July 21, 2005 08:33PM

Michael Beehler:

'In "An Ordinary Evening in New Haven," Wallace Stevens tells us that "The poem is the cry of its occasion," and we can readily extend this comment to books of criticism and philosophy as well. For despite pretenses to disinterested inquiry and objective speculation, no book, no thinking, emerges from a vacuum, but rather within an occasion that marks its involvement from the beginning with the messiness of history and the indeterminacies of time.'

Do you think good poetry can come from a kind of messiness?

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 07/22/2005 06:08AM by drpeternsz.

Re: messiness
Posted by: JohnnySansCulo (
Date: July 21, 2005 11:56PM

if it is properly distilled, yes

it is only thru adversity that we grow stronger

Re: messiness
Posted by: joet (
Date: July 22, 2005 09:39AM

If it were possible to take a snapshot of my mind, you wouldn't believe the chaos and "messiness" you'd encounter. Poetry does come from there; whether it is good or not is entirely subjective, dependent upon the reader's tastes and prejudices.


Re: messiness
Posted by: lg (Moderator)
Date: July 22, 2005 11:14AM

Poetry comes from life, it can come from squalor or wealth, castles or slums...from the fastidious or slovenly.


Re: messiness
Posted by: Hugh Clary (
Date: July 25, 2005 11:08AM

Do you think good poetry can come from a kind of messiness?

Moreover, can a good treatise result from messy thinking?

That is, does the statement, "The poem is the cry of its occasion" somehow allow Beehler to correlate a messiness of history and the indeterminacies of time?

That does not logically follow to me, Michael.

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Re: messiness
Posted by: drpeternsz (
Date: July 25, 2005 08:14PM

It does not ollow logic. But it may follow lived experience. Remember, Hugh, that logic is a way of ordering expeience so that we may systematically expand and explicate the past on the basis of present experiences and the projections and inductions consistent with this present occasion. But we exfoliate our experience in our ways than straight logic also and some of those ways may be useful or fun or fruitful in other way. Also, there are other patterns besides the liniear development of Aristotelian logic or even modern logics. We may say metaphorically that each event has a logic of its own, meaning the configurations and patterns are something we can follow and aometimes repeat systematicly [sp]. But there are patterns we can'f repeat which are orderly, patterns with more than one choice available, like some subatomic events which may not predicted in advance.

One of my teachers used to teach me how to generate text about my thesis by having me brainstorm facets of the thesis. The clusters of thoughts resulting became nodes to brainstorm in turn. she would have me follow that pattern until I was exhausted. She called what resulted creative chaos, because there was an order, maybe more than one order, I could logically project on the resulting lists anddiagrams whichitself generated consistent texts which I could them relate to each other in a Kantian way, archetectually, and relate that archetecture to my thesis. But the initial stages and phases af this process had to be messy, include 'bad' ideas, which might need to be dropped, illogicat combination, which sometime provoked me into explicating their antitheses, obverses and converses, logical antagonism appered that needed to be resolve -- a very messy matrix, but a matrix, a womb, nontheless, which gave birth to fruitful concepts I had to midwife.

I raised this queston, not because I dis not have experience with such a creative, messy process (I had), but becauese I hope other members and visiters to the discussion group had had their own expeiences with the messiness of composition, and could describe that experience so I could use their encounter with creative messinesses.

Experience and logic do need to interact sometimes, Hugh. And they can be very fruitful. But experience does not always follow the expected path and it can be useful to just keep our eyes open for what happens beyond our expectations. Thanks for the contribution to our thinking about Beehler's thought on Stevens' poetics. The experiments I mention about, by the was, were brainstorming toward a senio thesis on Ezra Pound's Pisan Cantos in undergraduate school. They did actually result in a mess of good ideas that were not sufficiently, consistently arranged in their last form, in my opinion, to constitute a work that was viable on its own. I view all of my college and univesity papers as works in progress in their latest forms, no matter whether they contained some good ideas in them.


Re: messiness
Posted by: marian2 (
Date: July 26, 2005 03:46AM

I think that some people order their messiest thoughts by reading poetry, and some (sometimes the same ones) by writing it. I'm one of them, and if reading doesn't sort it out, I write - prose does the smaller messes, poetry some of the bigger ones. HOwever, I'm not sure that is what you are talking about.

Re: messiness
Posted by: Talia (
Date: July 26, 2005 11:26AM

"Sorrow is better than laughter for by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better." Ecclesiastes 7:3

Re: messiness
Posted by: Marian-NYC (12.166.104.---)
Date: July 26, 2005 02:30PM

"You must have chaos in your soul to give birth to a dancing star."--Friedrich Nietzsche

I wouldn't choose the word MESSINESS, but I do believe that poetry (and other art) occurs when ideas and impressions are allowed to combine and recombine in the mind -- NOT when order is imposed on them.

I think this awareness is reflected in a lot of the language we use to talk about creativity:

"Clean desk, cluttered mind."

"Explosion of creativity."

"Wildly creative."

The REASON why I wouldn't choose the word MESSINESS is that I think people confuse creativity with the rejection of order, cleanliness, etc. As in, "I'm an artist, I don't have to wash the dishes." "I'm a poet, I don't have to show up on time." Sad true stories have shown how this kind of MESSY thinking costs happiness and even the lives of gifted artists. For example, see the recent NY piece on Dylan Thomas.

Re: messiness
Posted by: drpeternsz (
Date: July 26, 2005 06:25PM


That is one of the versions of what I am talking about.


Re: messiness
Posted by: drpeternsz (
Date: July 26, 2005 06:33PM

I was actually thinking of the brainstorming process and the ability Keats labeled "Negative Capability." And yet even something as unattractive and annoying as my trivial typos have been the occasion for me to write something creative,--theyact as the initial urge toward making something new occassioned [sp] by such oasises among more linear and orderly "thought."


Re: messiness
Posted by: marian2 (
Date: July 27, 2005 04:06AM

Interesting. There are times when order in life is not an option. For people who find solace in order, ordering words can help when it is not possible to order things. I'm in the middle of such a period - my house has been a building site since mid-May following 2 sewage floods and I'm feeling a bit shipwrecked - normal domestic routine is either pointless or impossible. I had thought my sudden bursts of creativity, after a long fallow period, were to do with having nothing else to distract me from my own woes and the awful things happening in the wider world, but perhaps it is more to do with being too orderly the rest of the time for random thought to give rise to it - certainly what I normally call my concentration (which is orderly thought) has gone to pot, as you'll probably realize from this babble.

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 07/27/2005 07:29AM by marian2.

Re: messiness
Posted by: Linda (
Date: July 27, 2005 10:24AM

2 sewage floods sounds like some one's out to get you.

Re: messiness
Posted by: marian2 (
Date: July 28, 2005 03:52AM

Infamy! Infamy! They've all got it in for me!

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