The Poetry and Music of Science

The Poetry and Music of Science

Author: Tom McLeish

Publisher: Oxford University Press

ISBN: 9780192518927

Category: Science

Page: 400

View: 960

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What human qualities are needed to make scientific discoveries, and which to make great art? Many would point to 'imagination' and 'creativity' in the second case but not the first. This book challenges the assumption that doing science is in any sense less creative than art, music or fictional writing and poetry, and treads a historical and contemporary path through common territories of the creative process. The methodological process called the 'scientific method' tells us how to test ideas when we have had them, but not how to arrive at hypotheses in the first place. Hearing the stories that scientists and artists tell about their projects reveals commonalities: the desire for a goal, the experience of frustration and failure, the incubation of the problem, moments of sudden insight, and the experience of the beautiful or sublime. Selected themes weave the practice of science and art together: visual thinking and metaphor, the transcendence of music and mathematics, the contemporary rise of the English novel and experimental science, and the role of aesthetics and desire in the creative process. Artists and scientists make salient comparisons: Defoe and Boyle; Emmerson and Humboldt, Monet and Einstein, Schumann and Hadamard. The book draws on medieval philosophy at many points as the product of the last age that spent time in inner contemplation of the mystery of how something is mentally brought out from nothing. Taking the phenomenon of the rainbow as an example, the principles of creativity within constraint point to the scientific imagination as a parallel of poetry.

Rhythm and Race in Modernist Poetry and Science

Rhythm and Race in Modernist Poetry and Science

Author: Michael Golston

Publisher: Columbia University Press

ISBN: 0231512333

Category: Literary Criticism

Page: 296

View: 631

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In the half-century between 1890 and 1950, a variety of fields and disciplines, from musicology and literary studies to biology, psychology, genetics, and eugenics, expressed a profound interest in the subject of rhythm. In this book, Michael Golston recovers much of the work done in this area and situates it in the society, politics, and culture of the Modernist period. He then filters selected Modernist poems through this archive to demonstrate that innovations in prosody, form, and subject matter are based on a largely forgotten ideology of rhythm and that beneath Modernist prosody is a science and an accompanying technology. In his analysis, Golston first examines psychological and physiological experiments that purportedly proved that races responded differently to rhythmic stimuli. He then demonstrates how poets like Ezra Pound, W. B. Yeats, Mina Loy, and William Carlos Williams either absorbed or echoed the information in these studies, using it to hone the innovative edge of Modernist practice and fundamentally alter the way poetry was written. Golston performs close readings of canonical texts such as Pound's Cantos, Yeats's "Lake Isle of Innisfree," and William Carlos Williams's Paterson, and examines the role the sciences of rhythm played in racist discourses and fascist political thinking in the years leading up to World War II. Recovering obscure texts written in France, Germany, England, and America, Golston argues that "Rhythmics" was instrumental in generating an international modern art and should become a major consideration in our reading of reactionary avant-garde poetry.