Playful Hermeneutics

If we can’t ‘explain’ a poem as we would a machine, or solve it as we would a crossword puzzle, we do find ourselves pulled in various directions as we try to understand it. We try different approaches, including one based on the Augustinian itinerary: from the outer to the inner, from the lower to the higher. Thus hermeneutics becomes a sort of play.

Form: how it happens to us

Form is a word used to explain the cause of poetry. This use creates lots of confusion. Wittgenstein can help here. Following W, we can say that form does not explain the cause-and-effect logic of understanding, but form, as it emerges from our reading of the poem, is the reason —- the cause —- the why we search for the cause of the poem. Once we turn this around, we can accept the futility of explanation. There are as many causes as there are ways of proceeding to write a given poem. Our concern is with the emergence of form in our experience of the poem. How it happens to us.