Enlightenment

Entertainment / Literature / Enlightenment: (also called the neoclassic movement) the philosophical and artistic movement growing out of the Renaissance and continuing until the nineteenth century. The Enlightenment was an optimistic belief that humanity could improve itself by applying logic and reason to all things. It rejected untested beliefs, superstition, and the 'barbarism' of the earlier medieval period, and embraced the literary, architectural, and artistic forms of the Greco-Roman world. Enlightenment thinkers were enchanted by the perfection of geometry and mathematics, and by all things harmonious and balanced. The period's poetry, as typified by Alexander Pope, John Dryden, and others, attempted to create perfect, clockwork regularity in meter. Typically, these Enlightenment writers would use satire to ridicule what they felt were illogical errors in government, social custom, and religious belief. For me, I have found one useful exercise to understand the difference between the Enlightenment and the Romantic aesthetic that followed. This exercise is examining the architecture of English and continental gardens in each period. In the Enlightenment, the garden would be kept neatly trimmed, with only useful or decorative plants allowed to grow, and every weed meticulously uprooted. The trees would be planted according to mathematical models for harmonious spacing, and the shrubbery would be pruned into geometric shapes such as spheres, cones, or pyramids. The preferred garden walls would involve Greco-Roman columns perfectly spaced from each other in clean white marble, smoothly burnished in straight edges and lines. If a stream or well were available, the architect might divert it down a carefully designed irrigation path, or pump it into the spray of a marble fountain. Such a setting was considered ideal for hosting civilized gatherings and leisurely strolls through the grounds. Such features were common in gardens from the 1660s up through the late 1790s. Nature was something to be shaped according to the dictates of human will and tamed according to the rules of human logic.

Metapoetry

Entertainment / Literature / Metapoetry: Poetry about poetry, especially self-conscious poems that pun on objects or items associated with writing or creating poetry. Among the Romantic and Enlightenment poets, we find puns on leaves (referr MORE

Free Verse

Entertainment / Literature / Free Verse: Poetry based on the natural rhythms of phrases and normal pauses rather than the artificial constraints of metrical feet. Commonly called vers libre in French (the English term first appears in print MORE

Tabula Rasa

Entertainment / Literature / Tabula Rasa: The term used in Enlightenment philosophy for the idea that humanity is born completely innocent, without any initial predispositions, attitudes, or beliefs. Accordingly, no natural state of humanity MORE

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