stephen's Reviews > Poetry and Experience

Poetry and Experience by Wilhelm Dilthey
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Jun 09, 2008

Read in June, 2008

this is a a particularly stodgy-looking volume--the hardcover has a little profile cameo of dilthey and is grey. inside there are 4 main texts written between 1887-1910--what holds them together is dilthey's project of historicizing aesthetics in general, poetics in particular (relativizing the traditional categories, making the methodology more inductive) and interest in making things as a psycho-social process.

not surprisingly, dilthey's work in this area is also a product of its situation (whence the emphasis on genius in the earlier texts and on the always irritating goethe/holderin nexus of "great germanic poetry" the "highest expression of the german spirit" blah blah blah in the later)...

poetry linked to process, to forming, to generating representation not in the sense of image-of but more in the sense of pattern (networks of associations/distinctions, valences, etc), so not an Event in the old-school poetry-as-Oracular sense but an event in the sense of traces of the processes of bringing-into-relation---but this presupposes an equivalence between poetry as a surface and perception that tends to efface technique.

on the other hand, dilthey worries the problem of communication--if there is something of an event-status to poetry, that event refers mostly to the person doing the writing: so what links the experience of poet to that of reader and how does this linkage work? which brings technique back in again. turn of the century academic types of technique, of course--newer versions could run in other directions.

dilthey probably lay as much behind benjamin as does marx, if you think about it.

this is perhaps best approached from one of two directions: either knit into a broader reading of dilthey's other writing (which would enable controlling for the terminological looseness and emphasis on emotion which is of a piece with it in favor of the more rigorous frames in his historical/hermeneutics)
or as material to be cut up.
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