Victor Shklovsky

Essay by noone January 2005

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Potebnya and his numerous disciples consider poetry a special kind of thinking - thinking by means of images; they feel that the purpose of imagery is to help channel various objects and activities into groups and to clarify the unknown by means of the known. (717)

poets are much more concerned with arranging images than with creating them. Images are given to poets; the ability to remember them is far more important than the ability to create them. (718)

By "works of art," in the narrow sense, we mean works created by special techniques designed to make the works as obviously artistic as possible. (718)

(Potebnya) ignored the fact that there are two aspects of imagery: imagery as a practical means of thinking, as a means of placing objects within categories (metonymic); and imagery as poetic, as a means of reinforcing an impression (metaphoric).


as perception becomes habitual, it becomes automatic. (720)

art exists that one may recover the sensation of life; it exists to make one feel things, to make the stone stony. . . . Art is a way of experiencing the artfulness of an object; the object is not important. (720)

Tolstoy makes the familiar seem strange by not naming the familiar object (defamiliarizing). He describes an object as if he were seeing it for the first time, an event as if it were happening for the first time. In describing something he avoids the accepted names of its parts and instead names corresponding parts of other objects. (721)

An image is not a permanent referent for those mutable complexities of life which are revealed through it; its purpose is not to make us perceive meaning, but to create a special perception of the object - it...