Poetics, Metaphysics, and Grundrisse

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In our Aristotle selections, (Metaphysics Book 5 and Poetics) we see the ground work that provides a basis for media studies, literary criticism, and film theory. Aristotle has specific rules that must be applied effectively to create the ideal poetry or tragedy. Aristotle holds both of these forms in high regard over other “lower” forms of entertainment such as comedy. In Metaphysics, Aristotle is taking the elements of production and explaining them down to their barest postulates. All the while, he uses these axioms as building blocks for production. So, it would be appropriate to start at the “beginning” and discuss each component to the last. Media studies can also be viewed in this way. As media scholars we can look at a whole production or we may look at very distinct elements within a television show. Whichever approach or angle we choose, we must remember that there are certain elements within any medium that must exist in order to study said object.

Poetics describes the detailed elements of a specific genre, in this case poetry. This is a more detailed approach to a specific artifact. In Metaphysics, Aristotle looks at the elements that are required for existence, while Poetics looks at those characteristics that create an optimal poem. Another way to look at it is in terms of production values. In order for a Tragedy to be par excellence it must observe specific guidelines such as plot, characters, thought, and diction. If these elements are not implemented, the audience or critic will easily be able to dismiss the poem for falling short. Although Aristotle privileges Tragedy over other forms of poetry, his guidelines can apply to other genres and media.

Lastly, Marx’s Grundrisse discusses production in an economical sense, but can easily be interpreted into an analysis of fan or audience studies. The key point to take from the reading is that production and consumption are one and the same. When content is produced it is also consumed at the exact very same moment. Both consumption and production must coexist or not at all. They feed off of each other in order to continue the cycle. Producers create content while the consumers absorb it and utilize it to their own ends. This utilization also produces content that the media producers use to create new works or continue to produce similar material.

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