Literature may be an art, but writing is a craft, and a craft must be learned. Talent, special ability in the arts, may appear at an early age; the special personality called genius may indeed be born, not made. But skill in matching intention and expression comes with practice. Naïve writers, naturals like the seventeenth-century English diarist Samuel Pepys, the late eighteenth-century French naïf Restif de la Bretonne, the twentieth-century American novelist Henry Miller, are all deservedly called stylists, although their styles are far removed from the deliberate, painstaking practice of a Flaubert or a Turgenev. They wrote spontaneously whatever came into their heads; but they wrote constantly, voluminously, and were, by their own standards, skilled practitioners.
Throughout our discussion on Tuesday about copyright I couldn’t help but think about how copyright affects electronic dance music artists today. Like Girl Talk, most EDM artists have used samples and pre-recorded sounds from other artists in their songs. Not only this, but they also play each other’s and other artist’s songs at their shows. This industry filled me with many questions regarding copyright. How do they go about producing a new song? Do they get permission with each track? What about when they play songs at their shows? With EDM becoming a major music industry now, I can’t imagine every artist taking their chances like Girl Talk did by not getting the rights to each song. So, how is copyright affecting this industry?
If the early Egyptians or Sumerians had critical theories about the writing of literature, these have not survived. From the time of classical Greece until the present day, however, Western criticism has been dominated by two opposing theories of the literary art, which might conveniently be called the expressive and constructive theories of composition.
Thus, at the beginning of Western literary criticism, the controversy already exists. Is the artist or writer a technician, like a cook or an engineer, who designs and constructs a sort of machine that will elicit an aesthetic response from his audience? Or is he a virtuoso who above all else expresses himself and, because he gives voice to the deepest realities of his own personality, generates a response from his readers because they admit some profound identification with him? This antithesis endures throughout Western European history Scholasticism versus Humanism, Classicism versus Romanticism, Cubism versus Expressionism and survives to this day in the common judgment of our contemporary artists and writers. It is surprising how few critics have declared that the antithesis is unreal, that a work of literary or plastic art is at once constructive and expressive, and that it must in fact be both.
But already it is necessary to qualify these statements. To use the word writing when describing literature is itself misleading, for one may rightly speak of oral literature or the literature of preliterate peoples. The art of literature is not reducible to the words on the page; they are there because of the craft of writing. As an art, literature is the organization of words to give pleasure; through them it elevates and transforms experience; through them it functions in society as a continuing symbolic criticism of values.
Oratory, the art of persuasion, was long considered a great literary art. The oratory of the American Indian, for instance, is famous, while in classical Greece, Polymnia was the muse sacred to poetry and oratory. Romes great orator Cicero was to have a decisive influence on the development of English prose style. Abraham Lincolns Gettysburg Address is known to every American schoolchild. Today, however, oratory is more usually thought of as a craft than as an art. Most critics would not admit advertising copywriting, purely commercial fiction, or cinema and television scripts as accepted forms of literary expression, although others would hotly dispute their exclusion. The test in individual cases would seem to be one of enduring satisfaction and, of course, truth. Indeed, it becomes more and more difficult to categorize literature, for in modern civilization words are everywhere. Man is subject to a continuous flood of communication. Most of it is fugitive, but here and there in high-level journalism, in television, in the cinema, in commercial fiction, in westerns and detective stories, and in plain, expository prose some writing, almost by accident, achieves an aesthetic satisfaction, a depth and relevance that entitle it to stand with other examples of the art of literature.
There are many reasons in why getting an education in science can be important and three of them are that it makes you smarter, it increases your awareness of diseases going around in the world, and getting a proper education in science can inspire kids to be scientists themselves....
Certainly, William Blake or Thomas Campion, when they were writing their simple lyrics, were unaware of the ambiguities and multiple meanings that future critics would find in them. Nevertheless, language is complex. Words do have overtones; they do stir up complicated reverberations in the mind that are ignored in their dictionary definitions. Great stylists, and most especially great poets, work with at least a half-conscious, or subliminal, awareness of the infinite potentialities of language. This is one reason why the essence of most poetry and great prose is so resistant to translation (quite apart from the radically different sound patterns that are created in other-language versions). The translator must project himself into the mind of the original author; he must transport himself into an entirely different world of relationships between sounds and meanings, and at the same time he must establish an equivalence between one infinitely complex system and another. Since no two languages are truly equivalent in anything except the simplest terms, this is a most difficult accomplishment. Certain writers are exceptionally difficult to translate. There are no satisfactory English versions, for example, of the Latin of Catullus, the French of Baudelaire, the Russian of Pushkin, or of the majority of Persian and Arabic poetry. The splendor of Sophocless Greek, of Plato at his best, is barely suggested even in the finest English versions. On the other hand, the Germans insist that Shakespeare is better in German than he is in English, a humorous exaggeration perhaps. But again, Shakespeare is resistant to translation into French. His English seems to lack equivalents in that language.
The arts also are an enormous economic force in our world from fashion to design to the entertainment business; all are multibillion-dollar industries.
A comprehensive arts education program helps students develop self-esteem, self-discipline, cooperative skills and self-motivation, all of which are necessary to be successful in life....
The essay was once written deliberately as a piece of literature; its subject matter was of comparatively minor importance. Today most essays are written as expository, informative journalism, although there are still essayists in the great tradition who think of themselves as artists. Now, as in the past, some of the greatest essayists are critics of literature, drama, and the arts.
Part of the success of Equiano’s narrative must be ascribed to the familiar themes of capture, captivity, and restoration that he experienced and many had read in one of the many “captivity narratives” that were so popular in early Colonial times....