When someone says a writer is prosaic - as opposed to poetic - they don't mean that the writer is necessarily BAAAAaaaddd, merely that he prefers metonymy over metaphor.

Go on, ask me how I know this.



Posted by: expat@large on Jun 05, 08 | 12:34 am | Profile



Posted by: bohemianlisa on Jun 09, 08 | 11:02 pm

Thanks Lisa, kisses and hugs to you.

Because in an effort to convince myself that my essay results from my abortive attmept at a BA back in 1976 showed that my lecturers had seriously underestimated my critical intelligence, I spent $40 of my hard-earned money and tried to read this book, and eventually found a bit I could almost understand, viz:

"Surprisingly, then, in spite of his lively, but essentially prosaic style of writing, Žižek is a rather poetic author [sic. What the fuck? Isn't that an oxymoron or a paradox or something?]. In saying this I am following the Russian linguist Roman Jakobson (1896-1982) [and don't we all?], who conceived of poetry as a predominance of metaphor over metonymy. In order to understand the difference between metaphor and metonymy we can look at the way in which sex is represented in mainstream films. If you have an instance in a film of a couple making love, but want to suggest the act rather than show it, the metaphorical way would be to show two rain drops conjoining on the window pane, and the metonymical way would be to show abandoned clothes strewn about the floor. In other words, a metaphor designates a resemblance in qualities whereas a metonymy identifies a part of something [the undressing, I get it!] in place of the whole thing. Jakobson argued that whereas the novel relies on the principle of metonymy, that is the horizontal axis of language along which we combine words to make a sentence, poetry draws its power from the vertical axis of language in which we substitute one word for another in accordance with their similarity." [Lost me again. Horizontal, vertical? WTF?]

Posted by: expat@large on Jun 10, 08 | 12:28 am

huh? What the??! Phwoarh. Can I just say that I understand, but I don't understand at the same time?

I understand the middle bit about metaphor & metonymy but I think one has to have a specific linguistic knowledge to know what is horizontal and vertical axis yada yada.

And umm, this may sounds stupid and I'm trying to figure this out. But why the use of metonymy cannot be considered poetic?

Posted by: bohemianlisa on Jun 19, 08 | 4:44 pm

Ah, not so CANNOT... I don't think that they mean it is exclusively prosaic to use metonymy in your prose, but that to increase one's ratio of metaphor would make it *more* poetic... Maybe.

Posted by: expat@large on Jun 19, 08 | 6:03 pm


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