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July 30 - October 9, 2018
From Section XXI: ARISTOTLE_POETICS
"Every word is either current, or strange, or metaphorical, or
ornamental, or newly-coined, or lengthened, or contracted, or altered."
"By a current or proper word I mean one which is in general use among
a people; by a strange word, one which is in use in another country.
Plainly, therefore, the same word may be at once strange and current,
but not in relation to the same people."
Either Aristotle's logic nods, or the translator...
the chain of "or"s there is not rigorous. Most are and/or,
with only a few genuine exclusive-ors...
current or strange
ornamental I don't see any explication
newly-coined of what Aristotle meant by
lengthened or contracted "ornamental". Did he skip
altered it, or was that material lost?
Aristotle's explication of
metaphor is rather tedious, a I wonder if I tried to
listing of types of metaphor that contrive a taxonomy of
doesn't seem very interesting... metaphor (or comparison?),
if that would be at all
"Metaphor is the application illuminating...
of an alien name by
transference either ... ":
o "from genus to species,"
o "or from species to genus,"
o "or from species to species,"
o "or by analogy, that is, proportion."
You can go from general to particular, particular to general,
or particular to particular-- but not from general to general?
And *analogy* is here considered a type of metaphor.
Where "proportion" is involved (and not just identity?).
About Section XXII:
In this section, Aristotle refers a lot to a type of language mangling
that I don't think has a precise equivalent in English-- the "lengthened
or contracted" words.
It brings to mind that great line from a song in "Kiss Me, Stupid"
That refers to "the Mona Lis'", dropping the last syllable--
"that little flaw that makes it interesting".
Or perhaps the rolling and repeating of syllables in song--
"Mama-say, mama-sa, mama-ma cosa".
The conflict that Aristotle is weighing in
on is a familiar one, though-- should poetry
rely on the common ordinary tongue as it's
actually used in normal life, or should it
reach for the unusual, and the unfamiliar to
provide a touch of strangeness, a sense of
Aristotle's position is "yes, but don't over do it".
"For by deviating in exceptional cases
from the normal idiom, the language will
gain distinction; while, at the same time,
the partial conformity with usage will give
perspicuity. The critics, therefore, are in
error who censure these licenses of speech,
and hold the author up to ridicule."
"To employ such license at all obtrusively
is, no doubt, grotesque; but in any mode of
poetic diction there must be moderation."
In English poetry, I think the question might
revolve around the use of formal or archaic
phrases, which I'm afraid often stikes me as an
imitating the form of great classics without
understanding what made them great.
There are a bunch of nice phrases scattered throughout this section
that one might quote in other context-- what better way of reaching
for distinction than deploying bits and pieces of Aristotle?
"raised above the commonplace"
"distinction to the style"
"an eye for resemblences"
With a little more context:
"The perfection of style is to be clear without being mean."
"The clearest style is that which uses only
current or proper words; at the same time it
is mean ..."
"That diction, on the other hand, is lofty
and raised above the commonplace which
employs unusual words."
"By unusual, I mean strange (or rare) words,
metaphorical, lengthened,--anything, in
short, that differs from the normal idiom."
"... the essence of a riddle is to express
true facts under impossible combinations"
"... Ariphrades ridiculed the tragedians for
using phrases which no one would employ in
"It is precisely because such phrases are
not part of the current idiom that they give
distinction to the style. This, however, he
failed to see."
"But the greatest thing by far is to have a
command of metaphor. This alone cannot be
imparted by another; it is the mark of
genius, for to make good metaphors implies
an eye for resemblances."
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