Barnes, M (2017) Foundation stone: poetry's place in science and the spiritual. PhD thesis, Bath Spa University.

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Abstract

This thesis proposes that certain contemporary poems may contribute the function of dialogue between scientific and spiritual ideas. It examines where perceived margins of conflict historically arose and currently exist between spirituality and science, discovering the primary contributor to be the scientistic impulse rather than the practice and practitioners of science, though tensions however culturally persist. Special focus is given to the combination of the inner and outer (subjective and objective) states of conscious experience and how their combination largely allows for dialogue to occur in the poetic context. Also proposed is how poetry acting as the converging locus of inner and outer consciousness makes it essential to this dialogue. The necessity of the intended dialogue is contemplated within the context of a divided self, as well as a larger fragmented identity formed by the arbitrary isolation of consciousness from objective reality. The ontological and epistemological authorities of poetry are explored, as is the possibility of textual evidence of the soul and defining a poetics of spirituality. Investigation is given over to the ways scientific language use differs from that of poetry, and how its necessary inclusion in poetry may benefit poetry’s dialogic properties, contributing a scaffolding of meaning and global ‘bank’ of shared information, which offers cosmological unity. Further consideration is given to what benefit the combination of poetry, science and spirituality conveys and the importance of the individual subjective experience. A number of particular approaches are discussed to determine formal and rhetorical methods within the writing of poetry that create the proposed dialogic properties, including: reinventing and redefining spiritual concepts via scientific subject matter and theories; poetry’s employment of ratios of meaning to quantify the ‘unquantifiable’; linguistic representation of qualia and lived experience reconciled to empirical fact (each contextualised within the analysis of contemporary poetic works); and, within the context of the author’s own creative book of poems: employing metaphor’s dual ability to both produce ontological statement and remain open-ended; the use of scientific image functioning as hypothetical axiom; and poetry as formal experiment. Throughout, contemplation is given over to concerns of materiality and immateriality and the nature of reality, the Cartesian division of mind and body, poetry’s able handling of uncertainty and clarity, and the necessity of hybrid consciousness. The consideration of voice and dialogue centres on the impulse in poetry to communicate to an intended ‘you’, and poetry’s appeal to suture the gap between our own and others’ isolated consciousness. The conclusions reached within this thesis are how poetic experimentation, inventing new images, creation of metaphor, and poetry’s inherent dialogism work against finality and contribute to further possible future conversation between science and spirituality, as well as creating new imaginative possibilities for wholeness. Additionally, it reinforces the value of poetry’s continuing experiment to observe, evaluate, and make sense and meaning out of personal human experience. The accompanying original work of creative writing, in the form of a collection of poetry entitled Twelve Foundation Stones of the New Heaven, aims to embody the ideas proposed within the following critical thesis.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Note:

Thesis supervised by John Strachan.

The document attached to this record is the contextualizing research section of the thesis only. It does not include the creative component, which is the manuscript for the poetry collection 'Twelve Foundation Stones of the New Heaven'.

Keywords: contemporary poetry, spirituality, science, states of consciousness, divided self, identity, scientific language, creative writing, materiality, Cartesianism
Divisions: College of Liberal Arts
Date Deposited: 24 Jan 2018 17:11
Last Modified: 24 Jan 2018 17:29
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