Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Well Are They Or Aren't They?

Moreover, there is a difference in kind as well as degree. In one way especially the "literature of knowledge"--of fact and expository discussion--will always differ, as De Quincey said, from the "literature of power" and the other arts...In short, the "literature of knowledge" with its expository discussion is, even at its best, "provisional" and can always be superseded. But the Iliad or King Lear will not be dislodged with the same ease or excuse. They are, as De Quincey said "finished and unalterable"--like every other work of art, however minor. To feel constraints in the competition with even the greatest scholars and critics of the last fifty years is not, in other words, the same thing as to be in competition with Michelangelo, Shakespeare, Rembrandt, Bach, Beethoven, Dickens, or Mann (or Coltrane, Dixon, Dolphy, Gayle, Lyons, Taylor, or Frank Zappa for that matter) and with the finalities that the works of such men present.

W. Jackson Bate: The Burden of the Past and the English Poet, p. 8

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Alterable or inalterable? Final or not final?

Can the eggs be unfried? Can the rice be unburnt?

Can there be a "literature of knowledge" without the "literature of power?"

Does the "literature of power" need a "literature of knowledge?"

Are they both equal in value and utility, or is one subordinate to the other?

Can the music of John Coltrane be "dislodged?" Can the music of Frank Zappa be "dislodged? "

If so, by whom? Barbarians crashing through the gate?

If so, how? How is this dislodging done? By not playing it "right?"

How can a work that is already done by the do-er to the do-er's specifications be done any more definitively? And more to the point, how can a work that is already done by the do-er to the do-er's specifications (and wrapped in shrink wrap) undergo any further transformation? Good, bad or indifferent?

Can a rendition "dislodge" an original?

Can a rendition "dislodge" an original? How about a rendition of a rendition of a rendition of an original?

--A question to which I don't not know the answer--but instead have only suspicions. (Suspicions)