Friday, April 1, 2016

Form and content

Joseph Joubert:

For the first form and idea of a work must be a space, a simple place where the material can be put, arranged, not a material to be put somewhere and arranged.

The Notebooks of Joseph Joubert: A Selection , trans. Paul Auster (New York: New York Review Books, 2005).
John Ashbery, striking a remarkably similar note:
[A] poem first presents itself to me as a somehow blank space which I then proceed to people with objects, events, and characters.

45 Contemporary Poems: The Creative Process , ed. Alberta Turner (New York: Longman, 1985).
In the manifesto “Projective Verse” (1959) Charles Olson famously declared that “FORM IS NEVER MORE THAN AN EXTENSION OF CONTENT.” Olson attributed this observation to Robert Creeley. (The SHOUTING is Olson.) For other writers, content is an extension of form. See above. Creeley later added that “content is never more than an extension of form.”

Related reading
All OCA John Ashbery posts (Pinboard)
Also from Joseph Joubert: Another world : Resignation and courage : Self-love and truth : Thinking and writing

[Robert Creeley: “form is never more than an extension of content,” in a letter to Charles Olson, June 5, 1950. For the last few weeks, I’ve been carrying Joubert’s name in my head as Jourbet . Wrong.]

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