Sunday, November 21, 2004

A Challenge

As I was watching TV a while ago, I came to feel rather guilty about how much I enjoy this "stimulation box". Isn't it so very interesting how our society is so reliant on visual stimulation to be entertained. Gone are the days of late evenings with the family huddled around the radio to hear the latest installment of radio theatre. Gone are the days when cuddling up with a good book (fiction or poetic anthology) was considered a wonderful way to spend a Saturday afternoon. Nowadays, there are so many other things to do (like watch TV, play video games, go to the mall), that our imaginations are becoming rather rusty as they collect dust in the remote depths of our brains.

I feel as if poetry has been put on the backburner, and has come to be seen as too much of an effort because too much mental work is involved. It is much easier to flick on the television and watch a mindless programme (a programme that you probably don't even like, but you're watching it anyway because there is nothing else on), because the actor's do the work of your imagination for you. I wish that imagination played as big a role nowadays as it used to. Consider Edgar Allen Poe's poem, "The Raven." This poem is such a masterpiece, and yet, I suspect you'd be hard pressed to find a non-English student who would know this poem (as long as they hadn't seen the "Simpson's" version on TV at one time). If only people could just turn their imaginations back on so that they could appreciate work like this:

Ah, distincly I remember it was in the bleack December;
And each separate dying ember wrough its ghost upon the floor.
Eagerly I wished the morrow;--vainly I had sought to borrow
From my books surcease of sorrow--sorrow for the lost Lenore--
For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore--
Nameless here for evermore.
(Norton Anthology, 881; ll 7-12)

These particular words are so unique and descriptive; they work so well to set up the haunting mood of this poem. This poem was undoubtedly intended as being a frightening one. It is so unfortunate though, that in today's day in age, we have become so extremely over-stimulated that a poem like Poe's "The Raven" fails to elicit the "fear" in the reader that it once was capable of. "The Raven" seems to be a mere distant memory of a time when poetry was appreciated by the average person as a form of entertainment.

I challenge all of you to take the time and really READ Poe's "The Raven." Try reading it when you're all alone at night. Clear your mind of all the jargan of the day, and just READ. Use your imagination and become a part of the words--you might even feel as if you're a part of the story!

4 Comments:

Blogger Donna_f said...

I agree 100% with you that tv has taken over imagination. 100 years ago things that were scary and taboo are just normal today. We hear someone got shot, stabbed etc. we are used to it. Sure we're sad, but it's seems to be a part of life now. I don't get why people have these feelings at all. I personally hate tv and only watch it when I feel like watching a movie or much music. I think people need to pry themselves away from the tv and video games and go outside into the real world.

November 23, 2004 at 7:38 AM  
Blogger Valerie said...

Jenn,
I was HIGHLY and sincerely impressed by your blog. I sat here, at my computer, reading every single word, and I was intensely involved in what you were saying.
You see, I couldn't have said it better myself. I feel the EXACT same way you do about how the imagination and poetry has been put on the backburners.
We rely on video games and television to be our babysitters; as escapes from our realities...and to be quite honest, they are a type of "drug" (I guess you could say) that "removes" us from our problems or even that takes away from something so precious as our imaginations.
I can't put blame on them however, for if there wasn't a "need" for such devices, they wouldn't be around. There are too many problems and too much violence, and we need these types of devices to act as defence against reality. I'm not saying that I hate television and video games. After all, I do myself enjoy watching one or two shows, but I don't sit there for hours on end ogling at the television screen e-v-e-r-y-d-a-y. I read, I write, I think. That's what I do! It is, perhaps, fair to say that I find it more addictive than any television program or video game could ever be. I sometimes wonder what society would be like today if things hadn't of changed, and more people were going back to their family roots, and reading Edgar Allan Poe! I bet there'd be a lot less problems.

Makes you think, doesn't it? That which is calming, truthful, and that makes us into "better" people or to the soul is least desired.

November 24, 2004 at 9:45 PM  
Blogger chriscouto said...

hi,
yes, times have changed. Mnay things have been put on the backburner, have bee replaced, or have evolved. However I think that entertainment and imagination are two different subjects. I see, or at least think I know where your point is - that in our new forms of entertainment the imagination has suffered. In a way I agree because listening to the radio or reading a poem forces us to CREATE our own mental picture in our minds instead of a picture being made for us by the TV. I think the problem lies in the amount of bad entertainment now. Imagination can bw challenged on many ways, and I really believe that some video games and specific movies challenge our imagination. Though movies about epics are often crushed by scholars, they are mentioned, which means people think about them and in general talk about how their picture of the story differs from the directors point of view. My ultimate take on imagination is this, as one grows imagination is often disencouraged with ideas of maturity, and reality.

November 25, 2004 at 7:41 PM  
Blogger Valerie said...

Chris,
I hate to be the devil's advocate here, but since you are telling me that there is too much BAD ENTERTAINMENT and entertainment is different than imagination, WHY DO HUMANS STILL FIND THE NEED TO INDULGE IN THAT WHICH IS BAD, as you say?
What happened to the GOOD FORMS of entertainment?
Moreover, TO ME and to MANY OTHERS, reading poetry and books, or listening to *good* music with *good* messages IS ENTERTAINMENT. I don't see the complete point of watching shows like COPS or SEXY GIRL for fulfilling entertainment.

I fail to see your complete argument, though I do agree that what entertainment we have in society right now is bad.
I suppose sex sells more than poetry.
[sigh]

November 26, 2004 at 4:17 PM  

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