The Tetrast2 - Speculation Lounge
Sketcher of various interrelated fourfolds.

Lyric, epic, dramatic, orphic, hermetic, peithic

March 12, 2009.

Recentest significant change or addition: May 10, 2015.

There seem four poles in art:

1. The subject matter.

2. The artist.
X 3. The art work.

4. The audience.

Four genres (aside from intermediate genres) of art may be distinguishable accordingly.

James Joyce focuses on two of those poles - (A) the artist and (B) "others" (the subject matter) - in defining forms or genres of literary art, and adopts the three-way lyric-epic-dramatic distinction. The artist, expressing personal emotion, is at the heart of the lyrical form, while the dramatized world of others, with the artist refined out of existence as it were, is at the heart of the dramatic form. The epic form is intermediate between the two.

Gerald L. Bruns in Modern Poetry and the Idea of Language (1974, 2001, praised by Gilbert Sorrentino) divides the poem into two genres - the orphic, focused on emotion and the artist as singer calling the world into existence, uniting with it; and the hermetic, focused on ability or technique, on form in the formalist sense, and on the art work itself to the exclusion of the outside world.


Update March 15, 2009: I misunderstood Bruns's conception of the orphic! I emailed him about my notions and he has very graciously responded:
As for Orpheus & Hermes: I think what you say makes good sense, although I was never inclined to think of the orphic in terms of the subjectivity, much less affectivity, of the poet. For me the Orpheus myth has to do with the magical power of language, which doesn't originate with the poet. The song makes the poet, not the poet the song. But of course all of this was many years ago, so who can say?
Bruns is clearly a nice guy and his kind phrase about my views should not be taken as some sort of partial endorsement, I think, but merely as saying that they're not unintelligent or absurd.

I had read some of his book decades ago (not all of it; it was very difficult for me at that time). Recently I encountered it online and re-read some passages in it.

The emotion-Orpheus association was fixed in my mind from childhood, his words and lyre making animals weep and making the dead weep over his personal loss. Magic, beauty, emotion, all wrapped up together, special unitings, creating worlds, it all made intuitive sense to me even given that the poet does not make the song; something acts on the poet to make the song. Hence, the lyric focus on the poet is a focus on the poet as undergoing, not as making or originating. The poet is the bearer or sign or intermediary arranging to become more determinate, into act, the song, just as a scientist doesn't seek literally to determine the truth but instead seeks to be determined by the truth, to arrange for the truth to decide. But I used to avoid depending on words like "feeling" and "emotion" because they seemed clumsy labels or empty shells, I had the notion that one should evoke not name emotions, or find a way to evoke them while mentioning them, etc. I even had the notion that others had that notion too. Somewhere along the line I got into misreading Bruns and then years later, when I tried to recall...ah well. Well, I may have made some nice distinctions or classifications but I don't have the right words for them. For the time being I've done some editing of this post. I have to go back and read his book more closely. Do I also have to find some other name for that which I'm calling the hermetic? End of update.

Following the pattern of object (subject matter), sign, interpretation, and establishment or recognition, I've usually distinguished and ordered art's poles as (1) subject matter, (2) artist, (3) artwork, (4) audience. In terms of the dependence of signs and observations on the real, such conceptions of those series are fallibilist but not relativist. Following the similar pattern of agent, bearer, act, borne, I've usually distinguished and ordered the human powers (or human causal principles) as (1) will & conation, (2) dealing, ability, (3) affectivity, and (4) cognition. In the case of the forms or genres of art, the two series come to seem aligned in opposite orders.

Putting these ideas together (but omitting the intermediate form (epic) for simplicity's sake since we have more than two poles now):

Pole of art.Artist's faculty.Genre.
(3) Artwork.(2) Ability, dealing.Hermetic, 'formalist', etc.
(2) Artist.(3) Affectivity.Lyric.
(1) Subject matter.(4) Cognition.Dramatic.

It turns out to be easy to extrapolate to a fourth genre, a genre that actually exists and is focused on the two remaining elements: will (& conation) and the audience. Artist's will, the audience? The artist trying exert his will on the audience? Always, in a sense. But when does it stand out? Isn't that "impure" art? Anyway it's when the artist preaches or aims to influence, in one sense or another. There's been a lot of that. The idea seems to work, so the orderings and their systematically "inverse" alignment seem to work. They also align nicely with inter-behaviors as I usually order them. I gleaned the inter-behaviors, also on the pattern of agent, bearer, act, borne, from a systematic consideration of kinds of human concerns.

Focus on which pole of art.Focus on which human power (of the artist).Artistic genre.Correlated inter-behavior.
(4) Audience.(1) Will & conation."Peithic,"* persuasional, hortatory, sermonic, critical, argumentative, seductive, proselytic, etc.(1) Vying (conflict, competition, rivalry, contention, etc.), arenas, etc.
(3) Artwork.(2) Ability, Dealing.Hermetic, 'formalist', etc.(2) Practices, cooperation, tolerance, minding one's (own) business, occupational spheres & concourses (e.g., workaholic Hephaistos focused on work to exclusion of external concerns).
(2) Artist.(3) Affectivity.Lyric.(3) (Valuational) community, distinctive unitings.
(1) Subject matter.(4) Cognition.Dramatic.(4) Disciplines, checks & balances, supports, etc.

* Note: I made the word "peithic" up just now from Ancient Greek peitho meaning "persuasion," "persuasiveness," or the goddess "Persuasion." The idea of which I'm thinking seems to include, but be broader than, the idea of rhetoric.

Why post this in the Speculation Lounge? I just thought of this division of genres the day before yesterday I think it was. It seems right but who knows and maybe I'll change my mind.

Here's a way to look at it in a two-by-two square (skip):

1. Peithic, hortatory, etc.
Will & conation.
Vying, conflict, competition,
rivalry, contention, arenas.

4. Audience.
2. Hermetic.
Ability, dealing, handling.
Practices, cooperation,
toleration, minding one's business.

3. Art work.
3. Lyric.
Affectivity.
Community,
distinctive unitings.

2. Artist.
4. Dramatic.
Cognition.
Disciplines, supports,
checks & balances.

1. Subject matter.

It is to be noted that the foci on various human powers are notwithstanding that art generally is a kind of cognition regarding the affective; more particularly it could be characterized as understanding in what effects one feels things; works of art are embodiments of such understanding. It is not systematic, scientific knowledge, which is knowing in or on what light or basis one knows things. There cognition is featured at both levels of the definition. With art, cognition is featured at one level and affectivity at the other. Such definitions use the same style as some use in order to define the economic realm as that of decision-making about means. For a four-by-four of 16 areas so definable, see "A periodic table of aspects of humanity which lend themselves to social compartmentalization."

Problem. I take as a problem an irregularity in such structures, and try to see such an irregularity as reflecting an underlying regularity, an ordering, whatever. The four poles of art seem irregular in regard to which ones can or must be persons. The artist is a person or people. The audience (which can include and even be limited to the artist) is a person or people. The subject matter could be persons or non-persons, even abstract objects. How can the artwork be a person at all? Should one distinguish (fictional or non-fictional) people as subject matter from (fictional or non fictional) people as they end up being shown in the artwork? When art involves performers, does that count as the artwork's being people? - and, when one reads a book, is one, like a musician reading a musical score, "performing" the book in one's mind? - doing some kind of double duty as artwork (performer) and audience? One has to get science-fictional in order to think of an artist making actual living persons for artistic purposes (I don't even mean architecture of persons and souls; I mean making actual people for the same reasons that one would make a poem, a painting, a drama, a song, etc.). If the artist "merely" modifies rather than makes actual people, - again, for artistic rather than merely cosmetic ends - it seems somewhat less science-fictional, though still morally awful. Well, I'll have to think about all those things.

End of main discussion.

From Chapter 5 of A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce, his young persona Stephen Dedalus speaking:

The image, it is clear, must be set between the mind or senses of the artist himself and the mind or senses of others. If you bear this in memory you will see that art necessarily divides itself into three forms progressing from one to the next. These forms are: the lyrical form, the form wherein the artist presents his image in immediate relation to himself; the epical form, the form wherein he presents his image in mediate relation to himself and to others; the dramatic form, the form wherein he presents his image in immediate relation to others.

A bit further on:

Even in literature, the highest and most spiritual art, the forms are often confused. The lyrical form is in fact the simplest verbal vesture of an instant of emotion, a rhythmical cry such as ages ago cheered on the man who pulled at the oar or dragged stones up a slope. He who utters it is more conscious of the instant of emotion than of himself as feeling emotion. The simplest epical form is seen emerging out of lyrical literature when the artist prolongs and broods upon himself as the centre of an epical event and this form progresses till the centre of emotional gravity is equidistant from the artist himself and from others. The narrative is no longer purely personal. The personality of the artist passes into the narration itself, flowing round and round the persons and the action like a vital sea. This progress you will see easily in that old English ballad TURPIN HERO which begins in the first person and ends in the third person. The dramatic form is reached when the vitality which has flowed and eddied round each person fills every person with such vital force that he or she assumes a proper and intangible esthetic life. The personality of the artist, at first a cry or a cadence or a mood and then a fluid and lambent narrative, finally refines itself out of existence, impersonalizes itself, so to speak. The esthetic image in the dramatic form is life purified in and reprojected from the human imagination. The mystery of esthetic, like that of material creation, is accomplished. The artist, like the God of creation, remains within or behind or beyond or above his handiwork, invisible, refined out of existence, indifferent, paring his fingernails.

Tetrastic patterns
1. AGENT.2. BEARER.3. ACT.4. BORNENESS.
Requisites for beauty (augmented Aquinas).Due magnitude & direction.Harmony, due proportion, due rhythm.Radiance, vibrance.(Structural) wholeness, integrity.
Aesthetic stages (augmented Joyce).Arrest.Fascination.Enchantment.Attachment, devotion.
Art's four poles.Subject matter (mastering it from an artistic standpoint).Artist (materials, technique, sensibility).Art work (the point, the artistic effect; publishing it, performing it).Audience (target audience, reception, etc. The audience isn't always right but then what is?)
Artistic genres (Some Joyce, some Gerald L. Bruns plus what):Foci: volition & audience. "Peithic," critical, contentional, persuasional, seductive, proselytic, etc. Cf. vyings (below).Foci: ability & artwork. Hermetic, formalist, etc. Cf. cooperation, tolerance, minding one's (own) business (below). Workaholic Hephaistos's focus on work to exclusion of world.Foci: affectivity & artist. Lyric. Cf. community, distinctive unitings (below).Foci: cognition & subject matter. Dramatic. Cf. checks & balances (below).
Broader correlations
Kinetic / mechanical correlatives.Net momentum, impulse, force.Rest mass, rest energy, internal work & power.(Non-rest) energy, work, power.Internal, balanced momenta (potential & kinetic), impulses, forces.
Tetradic semiosic stages (augmented Peirce).Objectification.Representation.Interpretation.Establishment, recognition.
Creative process (Helmholtz & Poincaré).Saturation (getting handles on a problem). Dusklike.Incubation. Nightlike.Illumination (e.g., as in "eureka!"). Dawnlike.Verification. Daylike.
DisciplinesRuling or governing arts.Know-how, productive arts/sciences.Affective arts.Mathematics & sciences.
Bahavioral phases / foci.Adoption, appropriation, assumption, control.Processing, adaptation, production.Consumption, expression, conversion.Rumination, assimilation, learnings.
Inter-behaviors.Vying — conflict, competition, rivalry, contention.Cooperation, tolerance, minding one's (own) business.Community, distinctive unitings.Checks & balances.
Human causal principles.Will, conation. Character. Virtues, vices, etc.Ability, dealing. Competence. Métiers, etc.Affectivity. Sensibility. Values, etc.Cognition. Intelligence. Knowledgeability, etc.
Causes as rational characters.The strong has the rational character of a beginning or leading.The apt has the rational character of a middle or means.The good has the rational character of an end.The true, real, genuine has the rational character of a check, entelechy.
Static or quasi-static causes.Essential tensions, pressures (of a thing especially as in its environment but also internally).Composition, material (of a thing but also of its external relations, environment, media, etc.).Differentiation, diversification (of a thing especially as a system among others in its environment, but also as among its parts, organs).Unitary structure (of a thing especially but also of its external relations, environment, etc.).
Existence (consistently extreme version).Efficient cause.Sustainer.Consumer, exhauster.Assimilator / suppressor.
Teleological causes.Beginning, impetus.Middle, means, development, process.End (-ing), telos as culmination.Check, entelechy, standing finished, settlement, establishment.
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