Modernist Aesthetic Theories Developed at Term Paper

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Likewise, Ezra Pound put forth another modernist aesthetic theory, which was founded on the concept of imagism. He proposed that emotion always creates a pattern in the mind of the author, and thus, the work of art is created following that pattern:

Intense emotion causes pattern to arise in the mind-if the mind is strong enough. Perhaps I should say, not pattern, but pattern-units, or units of design. (I do not say that intense emotion is the sole possible cause of such units. I say simply that they can result from it. They may also result from other sorts of energy.)(..)" by pattern-unit or vorticist picture I mean the single jet. The difference between the pattern-unit and the picture is one of complexity. The pattern-unit is so simple that one can bear having it repeated several or many times. When it becomes so complex that repetition would be useless, then it is a picture, an 'arrangement of forms'.

Not only does emotion create the 'pattern-unit' and the 'arrangement of forms', it creates also the Image." (Pound, 374)

Thus, in Pound's view, the image and the pattern of emotion that leads to it is much more than a simple idea or thought:

Emotion seizing up some external scene or action carries it intact to the mind; and that vortex purges it of all save the essential or dominant or dramatic qualities, and it emerges like the external original. In either case the Image is more than an idea. It is a vortex or cluster of fused ideas and is endowed with energy." (Pound, 375)

Thus, according to Pound the every poem is made of these vortexes, that have an energy of their own, and can engage the mind of the reader, and not, as it was supposed, by mere artistic expression of different ideas or thoughts. He believes that "emotion is an organiser of form," that is, it is what determines the particular arangement of details in a poem, and also its music or rhythm:

The vorticist maintains that the 'organising' or creativeinventive faculty is the thing that matters; and that the artist having this faculty is a being infinitely separate from the other type of artist who merely goes on weaving arabesques out of other men's 'units of form'." (Pound, 377)

Another modernist aesthetic concept related to those discussed above is Joyce's epiphany, which resembles the "objective correlative" Eliot talked about, in that it defined artistic emotion as resembling an illumination which arises at the contact with certain objects or particular events:

Epiphany may be defined as "a sudden spiritual manifestation, whether from some object, scene, event, or memorable phase of the mind -- the manifestation being out of proportion to the significance or strictly logical relevance of whatever produces it."

In Stephen Hero we are told that Stephen plans on "collecting many such moments together in a book of epiphanies" (SH211)" (Cohn, 3)

All the aesthetic concepts discussed above point to the shift that took place in modernist literature which became much more concerned with artistic technique on the one hand, and also started pointing to the fact that the literary means are not those that were proposed by traditional criticism: art is not primarily inspirational, but is created according to certain formal patterns. The formal patterns are indeed determined by emotion, but not are not solely resuming or translating the emotion, instead they are recreating it in an impersonal or objective form.

As Dante put it, poetry is "That melody which most doth draw,/the soul into itself." (Pound, 362), that is a formal construct that works as a vortex of emotions and thoughts, and not a mere description of these.

Works Cited

Cohn, Allan M. Work in Progress: Joyce Centenary Essays, Illinois: Southern Illinois University, 1993

Eliot, Thomas Stearns Sacred Wood,

Eliot, Thomas Stearns the Waste Land,

Pound Ezra Selected Prose, 1909-1965, New York: New Directions, 1973

Yeats, William Butler Essays and Introductions, New York: The Macmillan Company, 1961

Yeats, William Butler Among School Children,

Eliot, Thomas Stearns Tradition and the Individual Talent,

Eliot, Thomas Stearns Hamlet and His Problems,

Eliot, Thomas Stearns Tradition and the Individual Talent,

Online Sources Used in Document:

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