The Way of the Student

Michael Calvin McGee michael at
Sat Aug 25 13:04:00 EST 2001

I see that it is difficult in this (oink) medium to *really*
operate in the comic realm, no matter how many k-k-k-cues you give
that you intend to be jocular.  The view of the Volken is what I
thought was missing in this exchange, Leslie, as it is that view
which would move the Aristotelian account of "imitation," "art,"
and "criticism" more on the side of Burke.  "Science" is not
involved; hence, there is no use for holding up a real pig to
chastise the Buffoon's imperfect imitation.  The real pig is
itself imperfect when held up to each person's imagination of the
perfect pig.  Such imaginations do not admit of science, Burke
would say, and I would agree:  Your imagination might run to
Oscar-Meyer sausages, mine to Porky Pig, someone else's to a pet
Vietnamese porker.  So 'art', if concerned with imitation as
Aristotle says it should be in the Poetics, is better served by a
*bad* imitation than by a perfect representation (or even
presentation) of the real thing.  Why?  Because one function of
all arts is to *escape* the bonds of reason and reality that logic
and science and Aristotelian philosophy and rhetoric hold us to.

Aristotle's view of art and criticism is arrogant.  Perhaps such
arrogance contributed to his influence.  Arrogance is not always
bad.  My mentor, Donald Bryant, upon being called "intimidating,"
once said, "Whenever someone says that I am intimidating, I say
<long pause> Thank You!"


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