Monday, August 31, 2009

Pound, Fuller, Korzybski… and Fenollosa

I read the French translation of Pound's interpretation of Fenolosa's text, "Le charactère écrit Chinois, matériau poétique"
Here's a brief and biased summary:
At first Fenollosa examines the absence of a true grammar (which he defines as the differenciation in a language of verbs, substantives etc.) in Chinese. He claims that basically, all words are born in verbs; more, he claims that in Sanscrit all words were verbs!
For example, the English statement "he who reads learns how to write"becomes in Chinese "Reading provokes writing". Here I see a connection with Buckminster Fuller's famous statement "I seem to be a verb".
Secondly F. feels the Chinese poetry to be closer to reality than ours, as it states actions, no abstract qualities. In fact according to him most verbs in Chinese are transitive and thus appear somehow a modulation of the verb 'to have' as opposed to the verb 'to be'. It seems that great British poetry, like Shakespeare's, seldom use the verb 'to be' (with the exception of the obvious Hamlet soliloquoy) , prefer transitive verbs, and as such appears closer to reality. F. claims the use of 'to be' brings forth abstraction in a language and should be kept to a minimum. Here of course there's an obvious connection with Kellog's (hence Korzybski in the title) e-prime, and maybe c-prime has a tautologic quality.
"The study of Shakespearian verbs should be at the base of every style exercize" - E. Fenolllosa

1 comment:

FLY AGARIC 23 said...

Brilliant, as always Borsky, I have been pondering Fenollosa/Pound for a while now, and digging around Empson' - maybe 7 types of damnbiguity, - It now feels like the Fenollosa/Pound transfer was a kind-of historical short-circuit, that kinda' mighta' put the double-cross (I am a noun) game, outta' bizzness, or something, ah, well, something to try and give it a twist. Pound, Fuller, Korzybski and Fenollosa come together logically in your post. Sweet. And the Joy of reading a French translation..

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