Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Searching for Quietude

After the fireworks, I thought I'd go searching for Silliman's quietude.

From "Tale-Writing A Review" by Edgar Allan Poe:
It is often said, inconsiderately, that very original writers always fail in popularity--that such and such persons are too original to be comprehended by the mass. "Too peculiar," should be the phrase, "too idiosyncratic." It is, in fact, the excitable, undisciplined and child-like popular mind which most keenly feels the original. The criticism of the conservatives, of the hackneys, of the cultivated old clergymen of the "North American Review," is precisely the criticism which condemns and alone condemns it. "It becometh not a divine," saith Lord Coke, "to be of a fiery and salamandrine spirit." Their conscience allowing them to move nothing themselves, these dignitaries have a holy horror of being moved. "Give us quietude," they say. Opening their mouths with proper caution, they sigh forth the word "Repose." And this is, indeed, the one thing they should be permitted to enjoy, if only upon the Christian principle of give and take. (emphasis added)
On the other hand, there's this take on novelty from the same article.
But it is clear that the element of the literary originality is novelty. The element of its appreciation by the reader is the reader's sense of the new. Whatever gives him a new and insomuch a pleasurable emotion, he considers original, and whoever frequently gives him such emotion, he considers an original writer. In a word, it is by the sum total of these emotions that he decides upon the writer's claim to originality. I may observe here, however, that there is clearly a point at which even novelty itself would cease to produce the legitimate originality, if we judge this originality, as we should, by the effect designed: this point is that at which novelty becomes nothing novel; and here the artist, to preserve his originality, will subside into the common-place.
A school of novelty?

5 comments:

Brian Campbell said...

Thanks for this.

Clifford Duffy said...

"I love an ancient work for its novelty" Tristan Tzara 1918 Manifesto. Dada. Dig. Link up handshakes across the poem wirleless of space.

Curtis Gale Weeks said...

"Shakspeare knew that tradition supplies a better fable than any invention can. If he lost any credit of design, he augmented his resources; and, at that day, our petulant demand for originality was not so much pressed."

--Ralph Waldo Emerson, Shakspeare; or, The Poet

Clifford Duffy said...

good old Emerson. a true Nietzschean without even having read him! N. loved Em.

Greg said...

You're welcome Brian.
How you doin, CD
Good Emerson, Curtis. Petulance indeed.