"Fake" poetry

Gili Bar-Hillel gbhillel at netvision.net.il
Tue Feb 8 07:40:02 EST 2005

>>In any case, I'm still left wondering (across the pale parabola of joy) in
>>what way poetry that has been made up is "fake" if other poetry that has
>>been made up is not "fake".

I actually got into quite a tiff with my mother about this. I think she was
trying to make the point of authorial intent, though most of the time she
was putting me down for disagreeing with her, which she unfortunately
sometimes does. In other words, I believe she would claim that what an
author intends to be real poetry is real poetry, whereas what an author does
not intend to be poetry, or intends to be fake, is not real poetry. My
counter claim was that poetry is not necessarily created by the author.
Poetry can be in the eyes of the beholder. Something that was not originally
intended as poetry can be perceived and framed as poetry, and then it is
poetry.  But I do hold that *someone* needs to claim a poem a poem for it to
be a true poem.

BTW, here is the abstract for one of the papers I mentioned earlier, which
was written by a student of my mother's.

by Ruthy Nofech
A notion of the "Cultural Canon" is that canonic pieces of art and
literature are of higher aesthetic value than those outside it. Quality
judgments of stimuli can be influenced by labels conveying quality (Levin &
Gaeth, 1988; Bar-Hillel & Moshinsky, unpublished). We suggest viewing the
cultural Canon through the prism of labeling effects research: information
regarding the source of a literary text might generate corresponding
anticipation for quality, and effect evaluation. By crossing the variable
"prestige label" (through a poet's name attached to a poem) with the
variable "canonic status" (high or none), we created a two-factorial design
that enabled examining: 1) effects of prestigious vs. anonymous names on the
evaluation of different poems; 2) the value attributed to canonic poems in
comparison to artificial "poems", lacking literary value. Significant label
effects were found for 4 canonic name labels: both actual and artificial
poems presented as having been written by famous Hebrew poets (Amichai,
Zach, Goldberg, Rabikowitz) were rated significantly higher than when
thought to be by anonymous authors. Surprisingly, no significant differences
were found between ratings of actual, highly appreciated poems and those of
artificial texts arbitrarily manufactured for the experiment, without any
aesthetic pretension.

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