Litkicks Message Board Archive

Let me try this

Posted to Poetry and Politics





Consider a Miles Davis recording. If someone else -- no matter how skilled -- were to play the same notes, would the music still say the same thing? Indeed, would it still be "jazz"? Miles was a communicator that could speak volumes with a few notes. But this message wasn't in the composition, so music theory can only go so far in analyzing any meaning. Indeed, it was the feeling he instilled in the listener that made it jazz. Part of what makes it such an art is that the feeling is so vital, so core, and so very rare that it can't be evoked in many other ways. So how do we describe it, other than to say, "that feeling you get from Miles"? We know it's there, but we can't say much about it. So the recording must speak for itself.

Now, how do we know when something is "poetic"? Is it simply a matter of style or format? Is it some idea that any writer might express by ordering select words? Or is it something deeper, that only a particular individual might express in his or her unique way? If these were merely words, then it would just be a premise that might be reformulated in countless ways; and I would then be able to say, "in other words," or "to expand on that..." But this is poetic -- it is more than just the words, more than just the notes from a muted trumpet. Perhaps (just perhaps) there is no other way to express that core vitality -- to communicate this abstract "concept" to the reader. The words must speak for themselves, and there is little more we can say.

Now, you've already said that you don't regard this as poetic. That's fine. Whether these words fail in speaking to you beyond their literal meaning is another issue (with no "right" or "wrong"). But could you at least acknowledge that there might be something here that resonates with others on a level that can't be expressed literally?