In a brief moment of peace this morning – as newly shod children ran from the house with their mother – I wedged in a bit of Aristotle. Via dailylit.com, I opened a couple of chapters of ‘On Poetics’, including the famous line: ‘Poetry is finer than history, as it describes the universal, while history describes only the particular.’
Aristotle is fascinating on ‘plot’, beginnings and endings and the ideal length. Most of all though his point is that plot makes poetry – not verse or the central character. The poet’s prime job is to say something transcendent and universal about the human condition, in a length which contains no more and no less than is needed.
Reading Aristotle is like having your intellectual sock drawer sorted for you. Concepts ordered, ideas reconnected. Then everything neatly paired and placed just so. Not showy nor rhetorical, bombastic nor florid. No more and no less than is needed. And, without fuss, a tidy drawer of knowledge and ideas added to your head. Marvellous.