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Know-How and Expertise - De File
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Know-How and Expertise
Here's a helpful quote from Friedrich Schlegel's Athenäums-Fragmente:
Wenn junge Personen beiderlei Geschlects nach einer lustigen Musik zu tanzen wissen, so fällt es ihnen gar nicht ein, deshalb über die Tonkunst urteilen zu wollen. Warum haben die Leute weniger Respekt vor der Poesie?
Interestingly enough, it sounds a bit like one of Ludwig Wittgenstein's musings from the Philosophical Investigations. The difference being that Wittgenstein would have made it clear that the practical knowledge of how to perform a particular dance is in now way inferior to the theoretical knowledge that qualifies an expert to pass aesthetic judgment.

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From: bobo_amargo Date: October 4th, 2006 12:52 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)

Rodney Dangerfield Syndrome

You're right that the Wittgenstein of Philosophical Investigations would certainly not condescend to practical knowledge. He would've acknowledged that knowing how to do something is different from knowing how to discourse on it. However, doing the latter would be a different species of practice, a different form of life with its own language-game(s).

I can't tell from the Schlegel quotation itself (I mean, without the context) whether he's condescending to the practical or not (perhaps there's a nuance in the German that I'm missing). In any case, I'm not sure I'm entirely happy with the analogy. What, for instance, with poetry is the equivalent of just picking up and knowing how to follow the music? Reading? Interpreting and understanding? Unpacking an extended metaphor? Writing a sonnet? It seems to me that where poetry's concerned, Wittgenstein's refusal to endorse the theory/practice distinction is particularly useful since it's hard to tell within the universe of poetry where practice ends and theory begins. This is why so many craftsmen/practitioners (e.g., Billy Collins) insist on dissembling the medium in favor of what they take to be "poignant" more or less realist aboutness (e.g., the world, the self, my emotions). They feel the encroachment of theory, or whatever would be its stand-in were the distinction dissolved, everywhere.
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: October 4th, 2006 01:31 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)

Re: Rodney Dangerfield Syndrome

There isn't any context! It's one of the many stand-alone fragments that are grouped together as the Athenäums-Fragmente. But my sense is that, while Schlegel is not out to dis the dancers, he is interested in shutting up those who would act as though their ability to read poetry qualified them to theorize about it. I like the analogy, the way it's worded. Yet I agree with you that it doesn't really work, when you think about it with any degree of seriousness. Reading a poem isn't like knowing how to dance a foxtrot. Even reading a sonnet isn't like knowing how to dance a foxtrot.

Stay tuned, BTW, for an entry you will enjoy. A blast from the past. . .
From: bobo_amargo Date: October 4th, 2006 06:28 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)

Blast from the Pastiche

Duhhhhh as to the lack of context. I wonder what I was thinking "fragment" meant. It's an interesting slip: it shows the extent to which my idea of a poem is itself as of the fragmentary, like the lights on a switchboard, each representing an entire lineage of conversation (Rede my lips).

I think you're right about tone here: "die Leute" has a distinctly Nietzschean ring to it. And I suspect where he says "beiderlei Geschlects" of the practice, he wouldn't of the capacity to pass judgments.

Do you think my near disdain less for Collins's poetry than for his writings on it is somehow of a piece with Schlegel's privileging of, say, poetics over poetizing poetasters?

Look forward to what's on the horizon.
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: October 4th, 2006 06:45 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)

Re: Blast from the Pastiche

I get so many students who like Billy Collins. I was raised by my mother to appreciate folk music and the traditions it draws upon. So I can get behind sturdy populism of the Carl Sandburg sort. But I too have a real issue with folks like Collins talking about poetry in that way. I don't mind the aesthetic, really, so long as it's not prescriptive. Not that I particularly enjoy his work, mind you, because it doesn't rank high on my chart of populist wordsmithing. Bob Dylan may not be much of a poet outside of the context of a song, but I'll take his words over Collins's any day, even when they lie mute on the page.

The blast is coming, as soon as I get my scanner sorted out.
From: bobo_amargo Date: October 5th, 2006 11:21 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)

Mimesis & Drag

Re: Collins, he's definitely talented (though I prefer by far his 18th-century namesake William). He can make a basket (which guarantees him neither the arrival of his "package" nor the possession of the phallus, as he seems to think). Remember what Wallace Stevens said to the young Richard Wilbur: something to the effect of "You're talented, Wilbur, but you need to quit publishing in The New Yorker." (In truth, I would leap at the chance to publish a poem there myself.)

There's definitely a strain of the more straightforward that I like, too. I still defend Frost, for example. I agree about Dylan, except the part about the force of his words when they lie mute on the page. Like those of Lou Reed, Dylan's words without the music -- and a fortiori without the voice -- remind me of the way Hobbes used to look when adults, rather than Calvin, were looking at him. The illusion's being broken always filled me with the chill of death.

Okay, the scanner's coming out has me genuinely frightened. I didn't know you were gonna get medieval on me.
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: October 5th, 2006 11:29 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)

Re: Mimesis & Drag

I agree with pretty much everything you write here. I think I can stand song lyrics on the page only because of the memory of the music that invariably stirs up in my mind when I'm reading them. Even lyrics that would seem less bound to the beat, like those of a Stephen Malkmus, don't do much in print. And that's as it should be, since the doubling of stress that comes with the addition of an external rhythm track makes "natural" stress and its linear arrangement in meter a mere shadow of the song. I love the Calvin and Hobbes analogy!

And, yes, the scanner will be used for something from our respective Middle Ages.
katieengl From: katieengl Date: June 14th, 2007 07:27 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)


I recently met a friend who is trilingual, speaking english spanish and german. He went to an austrian school in his home country of Guadamala... anyway, i tested him by making him translate your german entries... it was impressive... and now i have the ability to read ALLL your entries.
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: June 14th, 2007 01:09 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)

Re: =)

Lieber Gott! Ich brauche eine andere Sprache. Russisch, vielleicht.

(And I'm impressed that you unearthed that entry!)
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