Wednesday, November 25, 2009

“A Science of Subjectivity” by Christian C. Thompson in the APR

Christian C. Thompson has a fascinating essay called “A Science of Subjectivity” in the November/December 2009 issue of the American Poetry Review. Thompson begins his essay with the following paragraph:

The standards for measuring numerical precision are not the same as those for judging literary accuracy. In ‘The Serious Artist,’ Pound says, ‘You can be wholly precise in representing a vagueness.’ This paradox is an example of an area of experience in which only forms of non-numerical expression are capable of precision. It is an instance within the domain of emotion. The numerical scientific method can measure physiological responses to different kinds of emotion, yet it cannot evoke emotion itself. Only the artistic manipulation of non-numerical images, symbols, or sounds can reproduce emotions. The forms of communication within the arts are not purely mathematical yet that does not mean their methods are not scientific.

Has your curiosity been piqued? Why don’t you go out to a newsstand or your local bookstore and pick up a copy of the APR for yourself? I especially love the concluding sentence of Thompson's essay: “The poet is a scientist responsible for expressing truths the other sciences are not capable of revealing.”

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