Ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny recapitulates ontogeny

While reading T. S. Eliot’s The Use of Poetry & The Use of Criticism, I came across an interesting observation:

For the simplest auditors there is the plot, for the more thoughtful the character and conflict of character, for the more literary the words and phrasing, for the more musically sensitive the rhythm, and for auditors of greater sensitiveness and understanding a meaning which reveals itself gradually.

While Eliot is talking here about people’s reaction to a play of Shakespeare, I found that this also rather accurately describes a lot of what I do in my writing. In the first draft(s), I’m focusing on the plot, then character and conflict, then language, and deeper meanings. It’s of course, not quite as linear as all that, but this does give a rough approximation of what’s going through my mind in the writing process.






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