Illusion and Reality: A Study of the Sources of Poetry

Illusion and Reality: A Study of the Sources of Poetry

Illusion and Reality: A Study of the Sources of Poetry

Illusion and Reality: A Study of the Sources of Poetry

Excerpt

This is a book not only about poetry but also about the sources of poetry. Poetry is written in language and therefore it is a book about the sources of language. Language is a social product, the instrument whereby men communicate and persuade each other; thus the study of poetry's sources cannot be separated from the study of society.

It is a common assumption of literary criticism that the sources of literature are irrelevant or unimportant, and that literature can be completely criticised in terms of literature. There was for some time a similar philosophy about the study of nature—the mechanical materialism of d'Holbach, adopted unconsciously by most scientists to‐ day. It was supposed that matter could be completely described in terms of itself, and since man is made of matter, these terms would describe him also. This philosophy began by divesting matter of all those qualities which have a subjective or mental component—colour, solidity, taste. Mass, size, time and space were regarded as objective material qualities—matter described in terms of itself; until Einstein proved that the observer also entered into the determination of these.Einstein, however, made the same attempt to produce an absolute term, the tensor, which, in its turn, has been shown by the quantum physicists' Principle of Indeterminacy to depend on the observer. Nothing is left absolute by modern physics but equations—and these are thoughts. Obviously this unexpected outcome of mechanical materialism is not due to the fact that it was materialistic, but to the fact that it was not materialistic enough. By giving thoughts and sensuous qualities a purely subjective and fictitious existence, excluded from the reality of matter, the mechanical materialists at once established a field of non-material reality which contradicted the basis of their procedure.

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