This Craft of Verse (Charles Eliot Norton Lectures; 1967-1968)


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Charles Eliot Norton Lectures

Saltar al contenido. Share this: Facebook Twitter Tumblr. Me gusta: Me gusta Cargando Publicado por somacles. Nombre necesario. Publicar en Cancelar. Available in cloth, paper, or audio CD Through a twist of fate that the author of Labyrinths himself would have relished, these lost lectures given in English at Harvard in by Jorge Luis Borges return to us now, a recovered tale of a life-long love affair with literature and the English language. Transcribed from tapes only recently discovered, This Craft of Verse captures the cadences, candor, wit, and remarkable erudition of one of the most extraordinary and enduring literary voices of the twentieth century.

In its wide-ranging commentary and exquisite insights, the book stands as a deeply personal yet far-reaching introduction to the pleasures of the word, and as a first-hand testimony to the life of literature. It may be the actual writer in flesh and blood, or the fictional narrator that every literary work has. So the metaphorical language can be reduced to the literal meaning of the sentence that expresses the proposition expressed by the speaker through the metaphorical sentence; in this sense this account holds that it is possible to exhaust the metaphorical meaning in propositional terms.

They generate, as Black said, a change of attitude, but not exclusively a change in our cognitive or conceptual attitude, as Black held, but also an emotional and imaginative change. Davidson, one of the defenders of this position along with Rorty argues for the irritating idea that metaphors are as "bumps in the head" because they only have a causal effect on our non-rational set of beliefs.

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The central idea held by Davidson is to distinguish between what the words mean in a metaphorical expression and the way in which the author makes use of these words. According to Davidson the words always mean the same thing both in literal and metaphorical contexts : what they mean literally. But they are not always used in order to communicate facts, there may be other uses of language involving appreciation, emotion, and imagination.

In his words: 9 Sperber and Wilson develop in detail this idea. As we see in this quote, the central idea is that language -at least sometimes- allows us to make a cognitive shift, that is a change in the way we think and perceive the world, a change that cannot be put into words. As we see this effect sometimes produced by language, is not dependent on the existence of a second non-literal meaning, but on the ability we have to rearrange our perceptions and thoughts. Borges's ideas about metaphors did not change substantially from the first text in the 20s to the last of the late 60s.

His main point can be summarized in these four theses. First, a general thesis about language as a whole. His ideas about language in general are tied to an idealist metaphysical view, or at least the idea that the touchstone of our language is not the objects and properties in the world, but our kaleidoscopic experience.

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Our language is nothing more than an ordering among many other possible orderings of our human experience, which serves to some practical purposes. A main consequence of this approach is this: since several alternative ways to organize our experience are possible being metaphorical ways just one of them , it makes little sense to say that there is a language that is literal, a language with which we can describe things as they are, that establish one to one correspondences between language and the world.

It is the certainty, the most natural certainty that mankind has all the fundamental ideas that are relevant to their experience. It is also intended that these ideas found explicit expression in the human language, in single words or phrases. This assumption is what I named "the fallacy of a perfect dictionary". As I said before Russell developed this ideal language involving an ontology that may be called idealistic as a correlate of this perfect language.

This idealistic ontology is precisely the other side of the coin of the logically perfect language: language describes the structure of the world as it is, all there is are sense data, and so ideal language is transparent and literal. But Borges believes that there will never be a one-to-one correspondence between items in any language and an extra linguistic reality. May be because we will never find a logically perfect language behind the natural language that can be matched with our experience.

Indeed, even when we consider that both Borges and Russell, in one possible reading, adopt an idealist metaphysics, their understanding of language is quite opposite: where Russell held a perfect literalness of the ideal language, Borges sees only more ordinary language making unremitting efforts to achieve an elusive reality that escapes to the possibility of a definitive and specular conceptualization. I thought, for example, that if I needed a sunset I should find the exact word for a sunset — or rather the most surprising metaphor.

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Now I have come to the conclusion and this conclusion may sound sad that I no longer believe in expression: I believe only in allusion. After all: what are words? Words are symbols for shared memories. If I use a word, then you should have some experience of what the word stands for. If not, the word means nothing to you.

This Craft of Verse

I think we can only allude, we can only try to make the hearer imagine. The reader, if he is quick enough, can be satisfied with our merely hinting at something. The second thesis to consider is the way in which Borges explicitly characterizes metaphors. Note that he is not saying that the main purpose of metaphors is communication; it is not a different way of communicating facts.

In fact, metaphors include cognitive elements given that they are a combination of concepts but also emotional elements at the same time. But not just every combination of concepts produces these cognitive and emotive characteristic effects.


  • This Craft of Verse by Jorge Luis Borges | LibraryThing.
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  • This Craft Of Verse: lectures by Jorge Luis Borges (1967 – 1968).

Borges highlights that he is speaking of poetic metaphors that are the living, heartfelt metaphors. The third idea developed by Borges - and I think this is the most original one- is that there are actually very few metaphors, because there are few combinations of concepts that create the effects I mentioned above. This does not mean that there cannot be what Borges calls "extraordinary metaphors" those that go beyond these patterns, I will return to this at the end of this paragraph.

What he means is that there are quite a limited number of associations that are repeated in the literature such as dream - death, women — flowers, etc. But it is important to note that although these combinations are few and far explored, they are able to generate plenty of unforeseen effects, cognitive, emotional and imaginative. Because the way in which the combination of concepts is embodied in each particular text, with some specific words, generates countless different effects, even contradictory.

This does not mean, of course, that the number of metaphors has been exhausted; the modes to indicate or imply these secret sympathies of the concepts are indeed limitless. Its virtue or weakness is in the words I want to recall the few words Borges says about what he called the "exceptional metaphors. These are the heart, the true miracle of the millennial verbal epic, and they are very few.

In them the linking knot of both terms slips away, and yet, a more effective force is exerted than the pictorial or verifiable sensory images of a recipe. And finally in 4 he explores the following specific examples of combinations of concepts and their multiple and sometimes contradictory - instantiations : Eyes and Stars pp. Beyond the philosophical labels like "realism", "idealism", "nominalism" etc.. He is particularly interested in these last cases, that is why the book has the title: "Languages of Art". To the metaphysical question about what do these representations represent, Goodman would answer from an anti-realist position, ie he would hold that there is no reality independent of the representational systems.

Borges, on the other hand, was not primarily a metaphysician. Of course he admired English idealism, but also German philosophy. And if we go back to the above quotes, he might answer the question holding that in his view there is not an independent reality, or that if there were such an independent reality we could not have known to it he uses the adjective "noumenal" in order to talk about what is outside the reach of our senses ; probably he would have said that it is by means of language- one of the Goodman representation systems- that we have an indirect access to this noumenal stuff.

According to Goodman a metaphorical attribution is a real one, though not literal one. The boundary between the literal and non- literal is given by newness. A metaphorical attribution is an extension of the boundaries of a concept. When a concept that is usually applied to certain things is applied to other things within the same realm the same sort of things , the application will be probably false. But when applied to objects in other realms eg when we speak of the temperature of a color such as in "blue is cold" , we have a metaphor: we are applying the system of concepts that suit a given realm of things the colored objects to object from another realm the temperature of objects for which there is usually another set of concepts.

The boundaries between the metaphorical and the literal are not sharp but a matter of degree: the more innovative, more unusual, will be a more metaphorical application of a label. Goodman's explanation is purely cognitive. He makes no mention at all of any emotional or imaginative element. In fact metaphors follow always the same patterns that Borges identifies; and in his view there are very few extraordinary —new- metaphors.

In the fourth lecture, "Word-music and translation", Borges places great emphasis on the sound of words. This phenomenon clearly depends on meaning, it is a cognitive phenomenon. But there is a second equally important element in poetry and literature in general which is the sound of words. Large pulses of blood, flesh and nature pass above and below the intelligence and there is no logical control that can stop them.

When the translator has not received this, it has not not been able to put in another language the equivalent to that pulse, to that music, and so I have the impression that the story falls to the ground Borges gives many examples, among others he considers the last line of a stanza by San Juan de la Cruz, "estando ya mi casa sosegada", and he translates it as "when my house was quiet" which is a literal translation.

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And he adds that the hissing sound of the three s's in "casa sosegada" is missing in the translation, but the poem is talking about the silence of the night, so that sound sh, sss is relevant to the content of the poem and guides us into a special atmosphere when we read it. Borges reminds us his experience as a young kid hearing his father reading Keats. Nobody denies that, after hearing or reading for the first time a poem, we do make a cognitive effort in order to achieve a deeper understanding of the words, seeking for a deeper interpretation of the metaphor, and also that this cognitive effort will probably provide us with an additional aesthetic experience.

Natural language which is the vehicle of literary works does not have direct contact with the world, given that either the world is partly constituted by our language, or that it is inaccessible to us, and we can only describe it partially and crudely with anyone of the languages available to human beings. And in order to produce these effects are relevant both the conceptual structures tied to a given word and the sounds associated to the hearing of such words. In the same way that there are certain combinations of literal words that are more frequent in everyday language, there are also some "necessary partnerships" between concepts underlying most literary metaphors.

This Craft of Verse (Charles Eliot Norton Lectures; 1967-1968) This Craft of Verse (Charles Eliot Norton Lectures; 1967-1968)
This Craft of Verse (Charles Eliot Norton Lectures; 1967-1968) This Craft of Verse (Charles Eliot Norton Lectures; 1967-1968)
This Craft of Verse (Charles Eliot Norton Lectures; 1967-1968) This Craft of Verse (Charles Eliot Norton Lectures; 1967-1968)
This Craft of Verse (Charles Eliot Norton Lectures; 1967-1968) This Craft of Verse (Charles Eliot Norton Lectures; 1967-1968)
This Craft of Verse (Charles Eliot Norton Lectures; 1967-1968) This Craft of Verse (Charles Eliot Norton Lectures; 1967-1968)
This Craft of Verse (Charles Eliot Norton Lectures; 1967-1968) This Craft of Verse (Charles Eliot Norton Lectures; 1967-1968)
This Craft of Verse (Charles Eliot Norton Lectures; 1967-1968) This Craft of Verse (Charles Eliot Norton Lectures; 1967-1968)

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