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Wednesday, 4 May 2016
What are poetics?

Lefevere has used the word 'poetics' or 'poeticology' several times but failed to define what he means. Now he gets round to it:

A poetics can be said to consist of two components: one is an inventory of literary devices, genres, motifs, prototypical characters and situations, and symbols; the other a concept of what the role of literature is, or should be, in the social system as a whole. The latter concept is influential in the selection of themes that must be relevant to the social system if the work of literature is to be noticed at all. In its formative phase a poetics reflects both the devices and the "functional view" of the literary production dominant in a literary system when its poetics was first codified. Once a poetics is codified, it exerts a tremendous system-conforming influence on the further development of a literary system.

Looking at the output of the Hebrew prophets it is easy to see how their pronouncements on behalf of the G-d of Israel were governed by His poetics and, conversely, grated against the poetics of the societies into which they spoke. Isaiah's first chapter fulminations against those who offered sacrifices with blood on their hands, or Malachi's condemnation against the priests and people who offered unacceptable sacrifices, both spoke into and powerfully against the "status quo" of their time. Both challenged the "powers that be" and called them to change their ways to come into line with the One True G-d.

Can we see current examples of people or situations that prophetically speak against the poetics of today? Walter Brueggemann's persistent call for Christians to abandon the consumer culture might be one; Os Guiness's call for people to take back control of their own time and not be driven by society might be another. The Messianic Jewish movement, calling Yeshua-believing Jews back into more Jewish expressions of faith and consistency with their identity as G-d's chosen people could be a third.

We need to listen out for those who speak against the poetics of society but instead sound the rallying call of the poetics of the kingdom of G-d.

Posted By Jonathan, 8:00am Comment Comments: 0