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Passions in Poetry

tortured souls

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brian madden
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ireland


0 posted 07-02-2000 05:50 AM       View Profile for brian madden   Email brian madden   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for brian madden

There is the cliche of the tortured soul of an artist, who damns himself to insanity in order to bring his vision to light. While this may be an extreme version may there be a grain of truth to this.

As poets do we not feel things more intensely than most people, are we not more sensitive to pain? Do we not explore that pain and keep it with us then draw from its depths? Or are these just cliches?
Though we often find comfort in our words they allow us to express what otherwise we would not be able to express ( for me this is a key element to poetry, if you say something in another way why bother with poetry. Poetry allows us explore ourselves, revealing parts of ourselves we could never hope to reveal in other ways. We can validate certain things to our readers and recieve understanding).

Anyway back to my point, is the tortured poet syndrome just a myth? Are we filled with such passion such zest such hunger that we are at risk of being consumed by it, will our frustration of not been understood as poets as artists be too much? or is this all just a fairy tale, total pretentiousness or a reality?

Were Sylvia Plath, Van Gogh etc tortured souls in life or did their art contribute to their pain and anguish?

I recently saw a film about Van Gogh so that is probably what sparked off this train of thought.
Interested to hear your thoughts and feedback on this.  


A rock pile ceases to be a rock pile the moment a single man contemplates it, bearing within him the image of a cathedral. Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Tim Gouldthorp
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1 posted 07-02-2000 10:07 AM       View Profile for Tim Gouldthorp   Email Tim Gouldthorp   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Tim Gouldthorp

Certainly a very interesting question.  The Romantic concept (which still prevails today) of the artist sees the artist more than merely being skilled with conveying emotion/ideas that all feel, but holds the artist to actually feel/understand more deeply and intensely, as if they had an extra sensitive austhetic 'nervous system'.  No doubt a lot of this is myth, but I do think there is a lot of truth to it.  As to artistic genius and 'madness,'there are many examples.  This is hardly suprising if we adopt Foucault's concept of madness as 'other' in society.  I think artists can become so visionary as it were that from the perspective of 'society' they appear mad.  And no doubt an artistic genius will face tremendous isolation if they feel the need to belong to society.
-Tim
doreen peri
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2 posted 07-02-2000 10:14 PM       View Profile for doreen peri   Email doreen peri   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for doreen peri

I don't know, brian... all i know is, i need another couple of drinks and i think i'll go stick my head in the oven because the Muse is elusive and without the pain, I can't write.... *wink*... (just kidding)....

seriously... this looks like the beginning of an important and serious discussion but it's too late for me to think and respond tonight... i'll be back!!! (bet you all can't wait, huh?... *grin*)

Carry on... i'm interested in seeing how others respond to this....
brian madden
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3 posted 07-03-2000 02:59 PM       View Profile for brian madden   Email brian madden   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for brian madden

Tim I agree that there is the romantic notion of the tortured artist and I don't think Trent Renzor is hepling to destroy this myth. It is hip to be messed up. It is strange the way the 90's will be viewed as the angst era, for teenagers any mainly thanks to Nirvana in the US and The manics in the Uk and elsewhere. When I was younger I had low self esteem, don't worry relevant point here, so I think I protected myself with a petentious attitude that I could see things that others could not and that I will explore what others are afraid of. Basically that I would explore and reveal the dark truth. I don't know it may sound stupid now but in my mind set it was perfect logic. I believe that I am very sensitive, I was bullied and lonely as a child and I carried that pain with me through most of teens, I always felt I had this invisible scar. I used to pick at it with my doubts. I have shed alot of that misery now and feel confident and all the rest but still I have this feeling, this natural leaning towards sorrow and darkness. It drives me. I am reminded of Dali's statement "the difference between me and a mad man is that I am not mad." I don't consider myself a genius by any lengths but I feel that I have a vision, a unique vision, and alot of that vision does stem from personal pain. Thanks for your thoughts on the matter.

Doreen, don't go do a Sylvia Plath on me. I agree on the pain factor, it is my muse. I used to use my pain and build desolation upon it now I try to find the light on it. I cannot write happy poems. Anyway I look forward to further comments from you.




A rock pile ceases to be a rock pile the moment a single man contemplates it, bearing within him the image of a cathedral. Antoine de Saint-Exupéry


[This message has been edited by brian madden (edited 07-03-2000).]
doreen peri
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4 posted 07-03-2000 11:56 PM       View Profile for doreen peri   Email doreen peri   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for doreen peri

i'm ok, brian... a dry sense of humor, that's all...

you're a sweetheart *

looking forward to more of this conversation tomorrow...

"Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read." - Groucho Marx
Brad
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5 posted 07-04-2000 03:35 AM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

I've said this before, I'll say it again. It is a myth. Make a list of writers who had 'tortured souls' and then make a list of writers who were 'normal' (whatever that means) and compare the two.  I'm almost positive the second list will be longer and, I think, contain the better writers.

The only difference between poets and everybody else is that we write poetry and they don't.  It is kind of funny, though, when you mention to someone who doesn't write that you write poetry, the look they give you. In most people, their eyes change subtly with a kind of respect -- even if they don't read poetry.  Ahhh, the power of labels, I guess.

Still, what really bothers me with this 'tortured soul' stuff is the limiting quality  it has, it begins to define what is a poet.  If a poem particularly moves you, the writer must have a tortured soul or he/she wouldn't have moved you in the first place (rather than focusing on the real power of the poet, his/her skill with words).  I'm not trying to belittle the real problems that people have, I just don't think there is a connection between the two ideas.

Still again, it's a great marketing tool and, yeah, if it sold my books I would use it in a hearbeat.    

I'm thinking of Whitman's marketing of himself and his 'poms'(he said poem as one syllable), and he wrote ecstatically happy poetry.

Brad
Tim Gouldthorp
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6 posted 07-04-2000 07:15 AM       View Profile for Tim Gouldthorp   Email Tim Gouldthorp   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Tim Gouldthorp

I also think that certain epochs in literature produce/attract certain personalities - eg whereas the Classical period per Pope etc had mainly writers who were conventional members of society, the Romantic period, in its apotheosis of individual creativity, had a much higher proportion of madness/suicide/darkness etc eg Smart, Chatterton etc.
Brian, I'll take you up on that list - of course there will be many poets on both sides - but I think there would be a predomination towards 'abnormality' in respect to the poets contempory society.  This doesn't mean 'insane' or exceedingly strange behaviour in public, but even many 'straightlaced' poets as T.S Eliot appear to have been driven or disturbed by profound mental stresses and alienation from their society.  
-Tim
nona
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7 posted 07-04-2000 10:29 AM       View Profile for nona   Email nona   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for nona

I don't think you need to be a "tortured" soul to write words with meaning to others.
You just need to be a careful observer of
people and life and to know and be satisfied with yourself......just my opinion.......nona
Janet Marie
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8 posted 07-04-2000 12:55 PM       View Profile for Janet Marie   Email Janet Marie   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Janet Marie

Hey Bri, and fellow poets...I am thoroughly enjoying this discussion, very interesting and some excellent points and examples are being made and given.
  My personal experience has been that it is a case of all of the above. Like Brad said... it sometimes is about "Titles and 'Labels."
But ...I have known many a poet or writer who were indeed "tortured souls."
They used their poetry to help work thru the emotions and pain. Some of them used it like therapy...one actually did use it as it was the only way he could convey and communicate with his therapist.He could not speak the words of pain, but he could write them out as poems to tell his doctor. Poetry often gives an emotionally "damaged and scarred" person a voice where they would otherwise not have one. And then I have friends who are exceptional poets who would not fall into this tortured soul category ...but I must admit in MOST (not all) of their cases they do not seem to "NEED" to write or be nearly as passionate about it. The poets who do fall into the long suffering category seem to need to write...need to express and have a creative outlet. I know when I am depressed I feel lost if I cant write it out in some way...and a bout of writers block will make me nuts. (smile) So again it comes down to individual personality and things we carry with us from our past.
As in all aspects of life ... people are too diverse and individual and we don't all fit into a category, nor should we be placed in one. Some people indeed do feel things more intensely and may need a creative outlet to express it. Some may just enjoy the simple joy of writing about a beautiful sunset.
I smiled at Brads comment about how people react to the discovery of one being a poet...its very true.
"Being" a poet is a gift....its a talent..just like being able to sing, draw, paint..etc.
It is something that is inside a person and they have to discover it and nurture it and grow into it.
And like all things in life there are the gifted and then there are the exceptional..the prodigy and the genius.
All I know is I love poetry, its like oxygen for me...both reading it and writing it.
And I'm grateful every day for being "given the gift"... in whatever way I have been given it ...
because I sure cant paint, draw, and lord help you all-- if I try to sing.  
Thanks for inviting me to your discussion Brian.
Thanks to all for listing to my ramblings.
Have a poetic day...
Take care,
Janet
Jeffrey Carter
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9 posted 07-04-2000 05:22 PM       View Profile for Jeffrey Carter   Email Jeffrey Carter   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Jeffrey Carter

I just wanted to say....

BRAVO Janet, I think you have summed it up quite nicely

"Being" a poet is a gift....its a talent..just like being able to sing, draw, paint..etc.
It is something that is inside a person and they have to discover it and nurture it and grow into it.
And like all things in life there are the gifted and then there are the exceptional..the prodigy and the genius.
All I know is I love poetry, its like oxygen for me...both reading it and writing it.
And I'm grateful every day for being "given the gift"... in whatever way I have been given it ...


Yep, that about sums it up for me
JP
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10 posted 07-04-2000 06:55 PM       View Profile for JP   Email JP   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit JP's Home Page   View IP for JP

I think thusfar I agree with Brad.

I have stated many times in responses here at Passions that a poet doesn't necessarily feel what s/he is writing, nor need to.  Nor is all poetry cathartic, or a narrative of experience.

Often times it is, yes, but that is neither a requirement, nor an element of good poetry.  Some folks have mentioned that they really like my poetry, and many of the poems they were impressed the most by, were mere poems - not reflections of my soul.  

To be able to turn a phrase uniquely, to put into words the indescribable - that is poetry, one not need be tortured or passion's slave to do that.


Yesterday is ash, tomorrow is smoke; only today does the fire burn.
JP

"Everything is your own damn fault, if you are any good." E. Hemmingway
Ron
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11 posted 07-04-2000 09:32 PM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

I emphatically disagree, JP. A poet who "doesn't necessarily feel what he is writing" is almost the classic definition of bad writing. How can one effectively "put into words the indescribable" without understanding what is being described?

Of course, I'm not suggesting a writer can't describe a sunset over Mars and, in doing so, evoke powerful feelings. She can. But I maintain that such a description MUST be an amalgamation and extrapolation of real emotions the poet knows intimately. Events can and often are the product of imagination. But the impact of those events on human beings is always autobiographical.

End of going off-topic.  

I do agree the "tortured souls" syndrome is largely a romantic myth, but with several caveats. First, I think the obverse questions should be more thoroughly explored: Do people with intense emotions more readily turn to poetry as a way to express themselves than do people with less intense emotions? Which came first, the chicken or the egg?

Second, I think it's important to acknowledge that poetry, or any art, is a feedback mechanism. The very act of expressing our emotions forces us to examine them, which in turn, can seem to intensify our feelings. When our examination is successful, our writing improves. Positive feedback. I think we quite literally teach ourselves to be more aware of our feelings.

And that feedback loop, that self-teaching, not incidentally ties together the beginning of my post with the ending. Does a non-poet feel love or pain less intensely? I don't think so. But I do believe the non-writer centers their awareness around the cause of the love or pain, whereas a good writer has trained themselves to separate event from emotion. The writer has learned, either through osmosis (reading good writers) or through the feedback loop, that describing the event or person is ineffective communication. Instead, we seek to evoke and help others to understand the feelings, sometimes by writing about a similar situation. And sometimes by describing the sun setting over the planet Mars.
JP
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12 posted 07-05-2000 02:46 PM       View Profile for JP   Email JP   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit JP's Home Page   View IP for JP

Wow!  I don't recall ever disagreeing with what Ron has said before... nor do I recall Ron ever writing that he disagrees with me, and emphatic disagreement at that!  It made me pause and think over my position again, to see if I missed something or misunderstood the reality of the situation.

I still, even after long hours of soul searching and contemplation, maintain my original theory.  I am not positing the idea that a poet can be bereft of feeling, nor can s/he truly be an effective poet without the understanding of the subject matter being written about... But the question is:  Can one write a good poem about a subject they have had, or have, no first-hand knowledge of?  I say yes.  I say one can write beautiful or haunting works about things one only has thought about.  I say that one can write poems centered mainly on a turn of a phrase or the manipulation of language, with no other goal in mind than to evoke a feeling that one has never had. I say that one can write exquisitely painful pieces of work based on a class of emotion one has never felt, but has merely read about and is expected to feel in a given situation.

I say, and I say emphatically, that the human intellect provides a sufficiently talented artist the ability to relate thoughts, feelings, and experiences, in such a way as to move others when the artist herself has never been touched by those feelings.



Yesterday is ash, tomorrow is smoke; only today does the fire burn.
JP

"Everything is your own damn fault, if you are any good." E. Hemmingway
brian madden
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13 posted 07-05-2000 05:11 PM       View Profile for brian madden   Email brian madden   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for brian madden

WOW this is an interesting debate and thank you to everyone who has voiced their opinions. Ok I am going to throw my thoughts into the ring again.

Brad, it is a great marketing tool. I think there is the presumption out there that poetry is all angst driven especially when you are teenager. Sure it is great therapy for a hard time in anyone's life but a lot of it tends to be cliché.  I mean nobody is going to accuse Sylvia Plath for teenage angst, her words connect with people she uses her emotions and writes stunning poems. Still they say that you can only become famous after you die. Though I think any art is a vocation, if you take it seriously. With that art comes responsibility. Our words are reflections of our emotions and thoughts.  It all depends on how we feel
And what we let ourselves feel. I don't think poetry makes a tortured soul but it is the fact that the poet is willing to communicate his/her inner most secrets and fears that can make poetry seem as the art of the tortured. Many people suffer in silence but the poet is compelled to voice or harness his/her emotions.
Though it is tempting to hop on the tortured poet wagon, place a label on yourself and the public will immediately understand your art and plight. I still feel in my own case, I feel intensely and analysis things to with burning intensity. They may be behavioural quirks but I see them as valuable tools. I think poets are a different breath of people in some sense. Not always tortured but just aware of life.  

Tim, interesting points thanks for your input.  I guess there is the romantic notion of insanity, that artists are these strange creatures who ignore their society in order to create their vision. Though I think there is a difference between insanity and a tortured soul.  One may be seen to lead to the other. Was Van Gogh insane? Well he cut off his ear, but was he really insane. History remembers him as a genius not the weird Dutch guy who cut off his ear. I think that the best writing comes from honesty and passion. Passion is a fire, an energy that could potentially destroy the person it feeds. Of course it all depends on the person and their life, but it can be a factor.

Nona, I agree but you have to understand what you write on some level. Of course you build upon it and distort it. If you do not understand the emotion then the poem has the potential to be weak very weak. I say potential as maybe there are some writers out there who are advanced enough to draw purely from fiction. I doubt it. I think every is based in reality even the most far out thought or image is some how grounded in reality.

Jan, totally agree. I mean there is a point where people can be too depressed to write. If you are really tortured you would hardly pick up a pen and write a poem about your impending dementia. Though we do draw from moments that were agonising and painful.  It can bring a lot of the pain back up to the surface yet to put the experience into words can allow a certain detachment afterwards and help healing.

Jeffery, yes being a poet is a talent and I love poetry.

JP while I hate to argue with your points, I don't think that your poems are mere poems. Take for instant
any poem that you wrote that you feel did not have any emotional input. First of all if you faked the emotions then the poem will lack certain backbone. You have to draw from experience.  I am going to arrogant and use one of my poems as an example. The poem is called wanderings and was about a refugee in a foreign country and his alienation on a city street. I wrote from his point of view. I have no real idea how the refugee would feel but I now what it is like to move to a big city and feel alienated, I have travelled streets at night and I have seen homeless people and refugees and can sympathise with them. This information acts as my basic I then build upon it using my skills (not saying I am very skilled LOL) and can write a poem from the perspective of a refugee. If I did not have any of the experiences to draw on the poem would be unbelievable to anyone who read it. So JP, we all, SHOULD, draw from our experiences
even if it is to create a fictional piece. Your skills as a writer will fill in the blanks.

Ron, thanks for joining the debate. I enjoyed your thoughts on matter and I think you summed it pretty well. "Does a non-poet feel love or pain less intensely? I don't think so. But I do believe the non-writer centers their awareness around the cause of the love or pain, whereas a good writer has trained themselves to separate event from emotion." Maybe you are right, I guess that is a very valid point. I think I have to agree with you on all of your points. Thanks for sharing.


A rock pile ceases to be a rock pile the moment a single man contemplates it, bearing within him the image of a cathedral. Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Ron
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14 posted 07-05-2000 07:56 PM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

JP, have you ever watched a movie or read a book about a subject where you were fairly knowledgeable? More so, perhaps, than the writer? I've about given up trying to truly enjoy a show or novel where computers play a central role. The Net (Sandra Bullock) and Sneakers (Robert Redford) immediately spring to mind. Excellent movies in many ways, but the basic premise simply didn't coincide with reality. At least, not my reality. It doesn't matter what fields you've worked within, if you watch a movie or read a novel about that field you're going to feel cheated unless the writer knew as much about it as do you. And isn't it amazing how one little deviation from Truth can mar an otherwise enjoyable experience?

Of course, I'm really talking about apples and oranges here, because the "facts" within fiction can and often are stretched to meet the needs of plot. It's called suspension of disbelief. And most of us still find it irritating. How much more than just irritating it is, though, when the missteps from Truth are about basic human motivations and feelings. A clever turn of phrase or the skillful manipulation of language are tools, not the goal, and will never supplant Truth. If you try to write about emotions that are completely foreign to you, you might be able to fool yourself. You will fool very few readers.

If emotion is the destination for a piece of writing, the artist can describe the journey in only three ways. The first, and I maintain it is often the best, is through personal revelation. Done well, this can transcend the personal to the Universal, and unveil new Truths about our common humanity. The second is extrapolation. I may have never been to our destination, but if I've been somewhere in the same neighborhood - and have a great deal of talent - I may be able to lead us both into new areas. While not always reliable, this is often the most exciting. And, I think, the most common. The third course is to repeat the directions of another, to reword and rework  what one "has merely read about."

Therein, I think, lies the core of bad writing.


JP
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15 posted 07-05-2000 09:54 PM       View Profile for JP   Email JP   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit JP's Home Page   View IP for JP

Whose truth are we addressing here?  Surely you do not suggest that there is one truth, one reality, do you? Whose reality/truth would that be?  Mine? Yours?  

If one has the talent, to pen phrase so skillfully, that it relates a version of reality or truth eloquently enough that one never questions its truth, wouldn't that writing be considered good?

If I were to write a hypothetical poem, let's call it "Discombobulated" for the sake of this argument, with the intent of describing a state of being which I have never experienced; basing that poem on an extrapolation of what my imagination could concieve... would that poem be considered 'bad writing' by definition?  Could that poem not reflect someone else's truth?  Someone else's reality?

Actually Ron, you may have a point that I have thusfar missed...  Perhaps in my hypothetical example, as the writer, imagining the state being described in the hypothetical poem, I actually developed within myself the feelings I wished to describe.  In that case, I would then be writing from my own kernal of truth.

Time for a break now... I have to pull out my copy of The Problems of Philosophy by B. Russell


Yesterday is ash, tomorrow is smoke; only today does the fire burn.
JP

"Everything is your own damn fault, if you are any good." E. Hemmingway
Brad
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16 posted 07-06-2000 12:18 AM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

Ron said:

Of course, I'm not suggesting a writer can't describe a sunset over Mars and, in doing so, evoke powerful feelings. She can. But I maintain that such a description MUST be an amalgamation and extrapolation of real emotions the poet knows intimately. Events can and often are the product of imagination. But the impact of those events on human beings is always autobiographical.

In a general sense, I agree with you (and I've read this from you before) but I'm uncomfortable with the word autobiographical.
Autobiography involves an element of chronology, of experience, and are horribly unreliable anyway.  Would retrospection or introspection be better terms?
I agree that all we really do is write about ourselves (I know historians who say that).  I believe that revelation or epiphany is the trick to good writing (that, and rewriting) and also believe that emotion is involved with that. But from a reader's point of view how do you know this to be true?

I don't think we can know for sure and that the only way to judge good writing is not from the motivation of the writer (who will just as soon lie anyway) but from the
reaction of the reader -- who may of course be the writer.

Brad

PS I hate it when Star Trek uses galaxy when they mean universe (fluidic space)or alien when they mean unencountered or unclassified lifeform.  Half the people on the damn ship are aliens!!

PPS I once caught Jeopardy in a mistake concerning Tokugawa Japan.  
Ron
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17 posted 07-06-2000 02:16 AM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

Brad said:
quote:
I don't think we can know for sure and that the only way to judge good writing is … from the reaction of the reader…


Exactly. We've all read things that were technically perfect, but just refused to "go" anywhere. I think that's when the reader knows the writer was being less than honest. I am a strong proponent of craftsmanship, and I think everyone around here knows that. But craftsmanship can never make up for lack of content. I once had a friend who had published a number of nonfiction articles and wanted to move into the fiction market. Why? Because he thought it would be easier. The content would require less research, he said. Ha! At least in nonfiction, the research has a beginning and an end. Fiction requires research, too, and it has no such easy boundaries. We call our research "living."

A writer faces many hurdles on the path to competency. One of those, I think, is admitting to himself that everything he pens is a direct reflection of himself, whether intended or not. But an even bigger hurdle is realizing that's okay.

And, Brad, I have no problem at all with replacing the word autobiographical with anything providing greater comfort. We know what we mean, anyway.  

PS I think all readers/viewers have a definite love-hate relationship with media blunders. They detract from our enjoyment, but they also seem to provide their own sense of joy. An anyone seeking scientific errors is bound to have a blast with Star Trek!  


JP
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18 posted 07-06-2000 11:49 AM       View Profile for JP   Email JP   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit JP's Home Page   View IP for JP

Hmmm.... I think those that watch shows like Star Trek and do not lose themselves in the fantasy, and enjoy the show for what it is - utopian escapism, have missed an important lesson in life.

To be unable to enjoy the fantasy simply because certain aspects of the fiction do not comply with the facts as we know them is a sorrowful state indeed.  As far as Trek is concerned, the scientific merely serves as a backdrop for the play of humanity (and all other life as it were...)  


Yesterday is ash, tomorrow is smoke; only today does the fire burn.
JP

"Everything is your own damn fault, if you are any good." E. Hemmingway
Ron
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19 posted 07-06-2000 01:07 PM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

Good point, JP. The truth is, ST Voyager is one of only three TV shows I watch on a fairly regular basis, and the only SF series. I would watch NG were it available, though I never did enjoy DS9 as much. I have every single movie ever made. Shoot, I'm actually old enough to fondly remember when every week brought a new episode of the adventures of Kirk and Spock. I'm a Trekkie from way back!

But, while I think I enjoy the show for what it is as much as anyone, that doesn't mean I have to overlook its flaws. Star Trek, surprisingly, sticks much closer to "real" science than do most movies or shows, and closer even than many novels. But it's far from perfect, and every Stupid mistake (as opposed to intentional deviations for plot) detracts from its integrity.

What you call "backdrop" is not an unimportant part of story-telling, certainly not in Star Trek (where it essentially becomes a major character), nor in any other form of fiction. A large part of the job of a writer is to convince the reader that this is the way the characters will act and react, and this is the inevitable outcome of those actions and motivations. We have a tremendous ally in the reader's voluntary suspension of disbelief, but we must always remember that ally can be easily lost to stupid mistakes. And it doesn't matter whether those mistakes are central to the character or merely "backdrop." It usually takes a lot to lose a reader's trust (he really WANTS to believe you), but once you do lose it he will question everything. And the story dies.

(PS I think we're setting some kind of record here. Just how far off-topic can a thread go?   )
JP
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since 05-25-99
Posts 1391
Loomis, CA


20 posted 07-06-2000 02:21 PM       View Profile for JP   Email JP   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit JP's Home Page   View IP for JP

I'm not sure Ron... If I started discussing my Linguistic Anthropology term paper in which I analyzed the development of the Klingon language.... would that carry us too far off the thread?


Yesterday is ash, tomorrow is smoke; only today does the fire burn.
JP

"Everything is your own damn fault, if you are any good." E. Hemmingway
brian madden
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since 05-06-2000
Posts 4532
ireland


21 posted 07-07-2000 04:04 PM       View Profile for brian madden   Email brian madden   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for brian madden

OK this debate certainly took a U-turn but I really enjoyed the later discussion about drawing upon one's own experience to write poetry/proses whatever. I do believe that you can only write what you know. I really liked ST NG, can't say I cared for the other series' but take for Instance that or My favourite Millennium or even The X-files, both series have many bizarre and surreal elements yet the human and not so human characters are totally believable. They seem real and this serves the illusion well. I think this later half has been a very interesting discussion. One I really enjoyed. Thanks Brad, Ron and JP for the in put.  

A rock pile ceases to be a rock pile the moment a single man contemplates it, bearing within him the image of a cathedral. Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
 
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