(thanks, Josh Keiter)

Philosophy and the Poetic Imagination” is a good post about the difference between expressive and communicative language. It sums up the day’s dominant theory of the place, not just of poetry, but, one might argue, of human understanding in general: “Poetry evokes a special kind of thinking — where we interpret ordinary links between language and world and mind as a kind of diagram of the possibilities of experience.” The paradox is not made explicit, but it’s basically this: The field is wide open within its limits. It’s all there for the taking as long as you put it all back when you’re done. A world of possibilities await, except for the world of possibility, which is an injunction.

The three concluding sentences in the the previous paragraph are examples of expressive communication. That is, they do not directly address the matter at hand. They do not say, “artistic language more generally is open to whatever we find in it,” which means that the reader, in approaching art, is entitled to create interpretation with complete freedom — so long as that interpretation is entirely regulated by the boundaries of their own experience. Hence the funny double-bind of art making in the 21st century — as long as you’re impotent, you’re omnipotent.

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