Maybe I have time to do a little more mental mountain climbing (or digital finger-slalom) this morning.
Continuing with the Turing biography. "turing" makes me think of a lathe; but apparently the family name stemmed from "Turin", Italy. A.T. was certainly an Olympics-class mental climber.
He's in college, & getting into mathematics, & Russell's Paradox ("the set of all sets, which contains itself", etc.). "'Normally,", wrote Russell, 'a class is not a member of itself. Mankind, for example, is not a man.'"
(Aye, there's the rub.)
Georg Cantor's infinity [of infinities] research.
The fractal spiral of self-reflective patterns [the J! the J! the blue J!]. Art's resonant echo-chamber.
But let's get back to poetry. I have a hunch this Russell Paradox can be applied, in some kind of analogy, both to literary style ("what do we do after MODERNISM???"}, and on a more basic level, to the relationship between text (written symbols) and real experience; AND, on a more cryptic level, to certain theological notions.
I won't try to cover all this in one lecture.
On coffee break, I'm reading about Turing, and I'm watching college students go by, umbilically attached to cellphones, I-pods. & I read, "This lack of any simple connection between mathematical symbols and the world of actual objects fascinated Alan." I'm watching the students go by, I'm slurping my coffee, & I'm thinking about the relationship between text and person, and between poetic text and vocal recital, dramatic performance.
I'm thinking about that relationship, because I'm trying to follow up on the previous post, the bit about poetry's serious side opens a space for its aesthetic reception.
This particular intellectual/emotional/spiritual pleasure & value, as we know it anyway, follows specifically from writing & reading, from texts.
But, paradoxically, the benchmarks, the classics, the models which make up the substance of an ongoing tradition in poetry - these originated in periods of revolutionary change : when 1) writing, printing & literacy spread far & wide, and 2) when the vast energies of vernacular languages were absorbed into poetry.
So the classics are packages of newly-grasped forms of energy (reading; new languages).
Our pleasure & learning - through reading & writing - draw on sources which are amalgams of spoken language & new writing tools.
I'm reminded of one of Mandelstam's most striking formulae : "Poetry is a plow which turns up the deep layers of Time, and spreads them on the surface." He's referring to contemporary, Acmeist poetry as he understands it & wants it to be : reaching back into those vital sources, those original amalgams of popular speech and writing technology (Dante, the classic of classic exemplars).
& it's close to Hart Crane's Nietzschean sense of poetry's potential to "reincarnate", to re-capitulate, archaic or eternal times (Marlowe, Pindar...).
"I don't want Ovid in translation; I want the living, breathing Ovid," Mandelstam wrote. (I'm quoting from memory.)
The forms taken suddenly by ancient poetry are springs or sources : fresh, eternal beauty. (This is a sort of classicism, I guess.) Why? Because they embody this symbiosis of text & speech, of symbol & actuality, of poem & person.
Not models or patterns; sources.
Russell's Paradox, which arose in the attempt to conceptualize the basic nature of mathematics, also applies, somehow, every time we read the "imitation of a speech act". It applies, somehow, to our concepts of rationality itself : what is the status of an abstraction, a metaphor, a word? What (if anything) grounds their logical architecture?
& what is "reality", then? Maybe Mankind, for example, is, indeed, a man...
[see, philosophes, the much-debated Aristotelian/Scholastic notion, that there are no universals, only individuals... nominalism loops into Berkeleyan idealism... & back into Peirce's futuristic, "thought-like" realism... & back into poetic quiddity, vivid particularity... ut pictura poiesis... I-am-That-I-Am, I-will-be-what-I-will-be, JHWH...]
and the poem & the person, and the text & the real, and the student & the mp3-player, inhabit this unpredictable borderland, where they flow back & forth...
I'm circling around a holistic conceptualization of art which includes personhood. Getting back to those dilemmas outlined in Carol Christ's book (Victorian & Modernist Poetics).
OK, class dismissed.