Comments on making, knowing and judging.

By Tuur Ghys

Reading essays like this almost fills me with a nostalgic feeling for cultural studies. While there are many interesting things to discuss, I will just lift out a few comments.

The paper seems to be split in two, the first part is about the growth of a poet and his critical ability.

– On p. 44 Auden makes a distinction between liking and approving, and gives the advantage to liking. This might shed some light on his relation with Nietzsche: He might simply like Nietzsche as a writer, and disapprove of his idea’s at the same time. Since liking has the upper hand, he doesn’t hold back from using him in his work.

– On p. 46 he does so, in using Nietzsche’s criticism on Wagner as an example of a good attack.

 – From page 54 onwards things got really interesting when he starts making general statements on poetry. He starts with making a distinction between other cultures that value the difference between the sacred and the profane, in which the poet has a public status. In ‘our own’ culture, this is not the case and the status of the poetry is intimate.

– Things keep getting more interesting when he starts to elaborate on primary & secondary imagination, and comes with the concept of ‘sacred beings and events’. This comes close to the idea of archetypes, in the sense that it is about things that are directly recognized and appealing to people’s nature. Auden beautifully crafts his argument towards the statement that poetry is inspired by these sacred things, but expressed by the secondary imagination in a beautiful form.

All this sounds a lot better than the talk of poems as communities in the Virgin & the Dynamo to me, but that might be because my background is cultural sciences instead of sociology.


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