Rhyme II

An Essay By Caleb // 9/15/2019

Well, it's been a few months since I threw down a gauntlet on here challenging the validity of rhyme -- questioning whether we should use it at all.

The fact that in the interval I did post two nicely rhymed poems might have given away my conclusion on the matter but, on the other hand, it could be that I employ rhyme with no rational defense for its use.

As an aside, I do think that it is very necessary sometimes for people to do things for which they cannot explain the logical rationale. What do you think?

For starters, the part of your mind where you make rational arguments could be full of false facts! And though your reasoning from erroneous foundations leads you to a wrong conclusion (for example, "I should not have a child, to reduce my carbon footprint", a seemingly airtight argument to many,) something in your instincts tells you not to follow the dictates of your "logical" conclusion, (God wrote in your nature His first command to be fruitful and multiply, and gave you a desire to be a parent,) and thus saves you from a tragic blunder.

Or you just might not be great at explicating your rationales, and if you postponed all actions until you could give a rationale for each, you would be quite, quite idle -- and that can't be right.

But in the end, above all, being a human is very complex; who can really fathom the depths of the human soul? There is an unyielding mystery in existence which even the most rigorous devotees of reason must acknowledge.

I say must acknowledge, but sometimes they don't acknowledge it when they should. For example -- Has it ever seemed to you that modern architecture is not human-friendly?

I certainly have accused the modern school of architects of not building for humans while experiencing their boxy creations, and I'm not the first to feel this way; Hermine Wittgenstein, for whom a famous, revolutionary, stark, carpetless, geometric, modern house was built in Vienna in the 20s wrote of it "I always knew that I neither wanted to, nor could, live in it myself. It seemed indeed to be much more a dwelling for the gods than for a small mortal like me, and at first I even had to overcome a faint inner opposition to this 'house embodied logic'."

And the thought entered my mind: Did the modern architects completely forget that the buildings they were making were for humans?

Then I ran across the famous quote of that founding father of modern architecture, Le Corbusier: "A house is a machine for living in. Baths, sun, hot water, cold water, warmth at will, conservation of food, hygiene, beauty in the sense of good proportion," and found that at least he had not forgotten humans! Whom else were these machines for? But he didn’t understand what humans are. He, and the other modern architects, stripped down their architecture to match their reduced view of humans -- a version of man stripped down to only that which he can rationally, logically explain.

Comparing his buildings to the buildings of the past we see how much is lost when one only does what he can give the rationale for; yes humans do need baths, and we must conserve food, but there's more to us than that -- we don't just live on bread and baths. In the above quote his only acknowledgement to an immaterial need is "beauty in the sense of proportion." But is proportion sufficient as an objective aesthetic measuring tape to comprehend all that our souls respond to? There is proportion in Bach's St. Matthew's passion and there's proportion in a plain cardboard box. What does Bach have that the box doesn't? "Proportion" alone can't explain the difference. What is it? And what is it in us that responds to whatever it is?

In reference to the mysterious fancies of traditional architecture Le Corbusier maintained that "Our world, like a charnel-house, is strewn with the detritus of dead epochs." Seeing the ancient traditions of ornamental architecture which had resonated with people for so many years as mere debris, he decided to throw it all out and create a reduced, less mysterious style of architecture to match his view of humans -- the view that ignores that for which there is no easy rationale.

I bring all this up as an example of what happens when one creates for people, without acknowledging that mysterious element of our nature that defies clean logical explanations. My argument is that in the making of art we have to acknowledge that there are aspects of humans which we are creating for, which we can't rationally plumb the depths of!

~

I said this was all an aside but I now realize it's all very much to the point, as hopefully you will come to agree in Rhyme III if not before. So to return to the charges which I determined to defend rhyme from. I'll take the first one first:

1. We shouldn't use rhyme because it's a trickster that creates an unwarranted feeling of 'rightness'

Now, to re-state the obvious, we shouldn't let the connection between the sound of two words make us think that some deep connection between the two ideas has been discovered. The connection, the rightness, the "this was meant to be" is only in the sounds, not the meaning.

BUT ... if you turn up your nose at an affinity which is merely in sounds you must turn up your nose at music. And can anyone dare to do that?

This is why I say that my discursive aside on architecture was actually to the point, for architecture has been called frozen music, and music could just as jolly well be called liquid architecture, and if music were a palace, that palace would sit squarely in the gardens of mystery.

What is music? What is it in us that responds to music? Why do we seem to need music?

It is very easy for the man who likes to find practical rationales to explain the practical use for food and, for that matter, language that can be used to give practical information (such as where the food is to be found). But why should an affinity between vibrations through the air sit so well with us?

Should we wait till we understand all this to listen to music? No! Let's be grateful for God's mysterious gifts now.

To be continued...

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