Tuesday, December 27, 2005

What's a Manifesto For?

As we've been discussing Frederick Turner's manifesto, several commenters have either expressed a wish that Turner had expanded on his ideas more fully, sometimes bemoaning the fact that the ideas as expressed seemed trite; or rejected the manifesto in its entirety because he or she objected to certain aspects of it. I'd like to address these.

A manifesto almost by definition is epigramatic in form. To elaborate on the different statements in Turner's manifesto would take a book or two -- books that Turner has, in fact, written: "Natural Classicism" and "Culture of Hope" seem to fully flesh out those ideas. A manifesto distills the ideas. I have checked these books out of the library to see what the basis for the ideas is mainly out of curiosity, but there is a part of me that wants to say, "Who cares what Frederick Turner thought about when he wrote that manifesto? What matters is what I think about!"

I have no interest in being a Turner apostle, or anyone's apostle for that matter. And my impression is that nobody else wants to be an apostle, either -- not this independent group. But I am trying to piece together my own aesthetic philosophy, because part of what I do as a teacher involves demonstrating that such a thing can be done. My idea of beauty may have nothing to do with Turner's idea, yet I may find his statement compelling, so it is up to me to define my terms. If Turner thinks beauty means classical aesthetics, then that is fine -- I can still agree with the sentiment without agreeing with the specifics. It seems to me that SpearBearer Down Left, in his post concerning Turner's Manifesto, picks and chooses those things he agrees with, and rejects those he does not, and that's how it should be. But when he indicates approval disagreement [I misread SBDL's original post, and I stand corrected] with certain ideas, he often adds "I'd love to see this expanded upon." Instead, I'd love to see him expand upon it! What does he find in the idea that is objectionable? How does he interpret the terms. (I'd also like to see him do the same explication with the things he rejects accepts, which he has marked in bold.)

All of which leads to a question: was there anything in the manifesto that you could subscribe to, and if so how did you interpret the idea? It seems to me that such a question might lead to a conversation. Another discussion-starting question might be: what sort of plays might Turner's ideas lead to?

1 comment:

spearbearer said...

Good points, Scott. I probably should have expanded more on comments I agreed with, disagreed with, and my assumptions about those I wasn't clear on. And perhaps if I can find a moment, I shall.

But just to clarify, the sentences in bold were the ones I agreed with, not ones with which I disagreed. Hope you didn't completely misunderstand my reaction to the manifesto because of the font style.