Thursday, 5 July 2007

Poetry ...What's the Harm?

Poetry, because of its sing-song rhythm is very right brain. Poetry like music is a very powerful means of jump-skipping past rational left brain logic and embedding itself into the subconscious. This is why poetry can be so deeply effecting on an emotional level.

It can be noted that poetry accesses a different part of the brain, than normal speech does. In the same way that singing lyrics of a song accesses a different part of the brain than left brain speech.

Indeed, take someone who suffers from a stammer, when using normal every day speech in conversation. Get the same person to sing a song and the stammer 'miraculously' disappears. When one realizes that the individual is accessing a different part of the brain for singing as apposed to talking, then it is easy to see that there is really nothing miraculous going on.

The same that can be said for musical lyrics can be said for poetry. The rhythmic structure of ordinary language in common day communication, is different than the rhythmic structure of poetry. Indeed, in reading a poem, the rhythms are very similar to musical rhythms and again, an individual who suffers from a stammer will find it goes away when reading poetry... It does so, for the same reason that it does when singing lyrics, one is accessing a different part of the brain, than that used in ordinary everyday speech.

Poetry can actually be harmful to logical thinking, if the reader swallows the poem 'wholesale' ...without analyzing what is being communicated. Indeed, the rhythmic effect of poetry is often used by great orators when giving public speeches, to mass rallies. The great speakers ad rhythms to their speeches, which gives them a poetic cadence. This rhythm can lead to the audience dropping their mental guard and swallowing what is being said without analysis. Indeed, such speeches can be so emotional that they can whip audiences up into a frenzy of hollers and screams.

As one example of emotional oratory, Adolph Hitler was very good at it. Of course his speeches were illogical, but because of the rhythmic nature of such oratory it very easily bypasses the logical mind and embeds in the subconscious mind un-analyzed.

The potential damaging effect of poetry on the none-thinking masses, has been understood for a long time and was identified by Plato.

Does this mean poetry is fundamentally bad and should be avoided. Of course not. Poetry can be very enjoyable, both in the reading and writing of. But one should not take in gulps of un-analyzed poetic "truths" as if they are true.

Another example of the fact that when we sing a lyric or read a line of poetry, that we access a different part of the brain, than that in everyday conversation is to do the following easy exercise. Try singing a normal conversation; your words will very quickly collapse into meaningless gibberish. It is virtually impossible to sing a normal conversation, because normal conversation and singing switch on different areas of the brain.

Out of all the major art forms of poetry, painting, music, dance... Poetry is perhaps the weakest art form and the easiest to create. Indeed, writing poetry is the least reliant on left brain logic, than all other art forms; that's what makes it so easy. The best poets often come up with their poems in a none-thinking stupor. Not surprising that many of histories best poets liked a drink and poetry is often associated with drugs.

The best paintings, music and dance on the other hand are created from right brain emotion and left brain logic. The best music is not only emotionally appealing it is well structured mathematically and rhythmically ...painting and dance are the same.

The reason William Shakespeare stands out as perhaps the greats poet of all time, is that his poetry, was a combination of poetry and prose. Shakespeare is deservedly considered a genius of the written word. Unlike most poetry, Shakespeare's was combined within prose which gave it logic structure within a storyline. So, Shakespeare is a good example of an artist who managed to perfectly combine left brain prose with right brain poetry and produce masterpieces of the English language.

On the other hand, when you analyze most poetry it is almost all lacking in any rationality. Of course there are many exceptions to this rule. Nevertheless much poetry is of this kind.

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