Allusions and Representations – Joshua Lowery,

In “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,” one rather fascinating line referenced the way we actually view media. On the top of page 5, T.S. Eliot writes, “…a magic lantern threw the nerves in patterns on a screen.” Now a magic lantern acted as a primitive form of image projection back then, and it would, quite inaccurately, represent real things. Who knew that after several reinventions of visual media, a device would be created that could count, index, and manipulate the real. Either accurately or poorly, these types of devices have tried to represent the real.

Representations. Representations or allusions, are quintessential to art and poetry in general. In this poem, many lines allude to ideas, concepts, or actual things including: the lines about the “yellow smoke” referencing a cat, the many allusions to his loneliness by describing the mundane settings, the line saying, “…scuttling across floors of silent seas” pointing to crabs (many think this describes his inaction since crabs always move sideways) and loneliness, and very lastly, the image of waking up from a fantasy or dream at the end. Representations in poetry serve to move away from the real to highlight contrast or to open interpretation. What then is the purpose of representation in digital?


2 thoughts on “Allusions and Representations – Joshua Lowery,

  1. In my mind, the purpose of representation in the digital is to reach a larger audience, though this does come without some negatives. As was said in class discussion, “something is lost in translation.” I think this is not only true with digital representations but also for example with oral ones. If you were to visit YouTube and listen to this poem preformed you would likely hear / not hear many things you did not when you were reading it on paper or screen. I believe that in digital form in particular you lose some of the romantic form of reading the thing. However, It is worth remembering that many hundreds of years ago poems such as the Iliad were recited or sung from memory. So I guess that begs the question, was there also a resistance when poetry transferred from a oral art form to a written one?

  2. I believe that there is the same type of resistance a book to a movie, as there is when poems were transferred from oral to written. Both formats lose part of the work when transferred in the same way there is some loss in digital. When a poem goes from oral to written it loses part of its character. The person saying the poem can make it feel different just as when a book becomes a movie. Movies are never an exact replication of the book and many times change scenes in the book to accommodate the movie. This is what makes the movie digital, but just as the screenwriter sees the book in a different light each person who reads the book takes it in differently. No one person reads a book or a poem the same. They each view it as different representation depending on the person. I believe this is what makes a poem digital.

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