elemental, my dear.

What I want to do most of all is write right now!
The songmaking gave me a burst of mental energy. I'm all suspicious and thinking "shouldn't I be using this to get more work done?" But then I'm like, "Naaah."

The four qualities of poetry, as I learned them in poetry class, are:
-scansion (I Googled the word and got a very good definition: The systematic analysis of metrical patterns of stress, syllable by syllable.)
-rhyme (also called word-musicality; the sounds of the words themselves as opposed to the emphasis with which they are spoken)
-image (the ability of the words to evoke sensory impressions)
-story (how the meaning of the poem hangs together as a sequence of events)

My weakest category is story and my strongest is probably scansion. I'm real good at rhyme but I tend to lay it on a bit thick, which is itself a weakness. And image I have become good at through lots and lots of hard work.

But it never occurred to me to try and fit this four-category division into the four elements. I mean, that's kind of the point of the four elements. They are categories into which anything can be sorted. It's the sorting process itself where the magic of the thing lies, because in the midst of that process you have to really pay attention to the things you're dividing up and sorting. Later on your concept of the element, which has been enriched by being used to help you pay attention to many things, can be used to focus the force of that understanding on new things and new problems.

(I said this to Dave last night at one point and I don't know what to think of the statement: "Life is made of problems! Fortunately, most of them are someone else's.")

Here's the thing. I have spent a lot of time thinking about the four elements, what they mean to me, how various mental states, emotions and paths of endeavor "count as" elemental to some degree. But virtually none of that is transcribable. Even as poetry. It is an understanding that built up out of a relationship, in this case, the relationship between me and this group of concepts that I use for paying attention to things. (Remember, magic is about relationships.) What I think of as the "classical" qualities of the elements are the ones you'd naturally associate with the word-images for earth, air, fire and water. Earth is hard but fertile, air is changeable and speedy, fire is transformative and dangerous, water is reflective and mutable, kind of thing. But the classical qualities of the elements are usually the last things I bring to mind when I'm actually using the concepts of the elements. Sort of as a diagnostic check-up on myself, "okay, have I gone off on the wrong track here or does this make sense."

For sorting out the four qualities of poetry, I know I have a couple problems. One, this is a subject where I have a lot of knowledge and experience, at least when compared to most other things I try to think of in terms of the elements. That means I can't think about poetry itself, the process of writing poetry, until I've already thought it through in another way and have some idea of what I think the categories might be. My thoughts on poetry itself would be too loud and would overwhelm the elemental concepts I'm trying to box it up with. Two, I have suspicions about with this division of poetry into four categories because I didn't come up with it. This would give me trouble if I tried to take the poetry categories and kind of deduce from their characteristics which element they belonged to. I'd sit around saying things like: "well, story holds everything together, so it might be earth--but then again scansion also holds everything together, and story is also transformative, so it could be fire too." So I don't even start on it from that direction in the first place.

Instead I will think on it by comparing my relationships with the four elemental concepts to my relationships with the four categories of poetry. I know air magic is my "primary" style, the one I'm so comfortable with that I tend to overdo it. So I can tentatively connect air with rhyme. Fire is my weakest element; I can use it, but if I have a choice I tend not to because it's difficult for me. So I'll say maybe story is fire. Earth I tend to pick up quickly when I put a little effort into it, gaining basic proficiency without too much straining or deep thought. Water I'm good at but it didn't come naturally to me and still usually requires conscious effort to use effectively. The similarity is less clear there but I'm comfortable saying, for the purpose of further consideration, that scansion is earth and image is water.

Tentative poetic elements for further pondering:
scansion - earth
rhyme - air
image - water
story - fire

Now that I have a hypothesis, so to speak, I can go back and compare my knowledge of the writing process to my element-concepts.

Just thought of another thing I could do, which would be great fun if I had a poetry scene to test it out in! Look at the strengths of poets whose work I read. Compare the elemental strength suggested by that to other behaviors and personality characteristics, ones that I have already come to an understanding about in terms of elements. The null hypothesis (that I got the poetry categories totally wrong) could be confirmed. Or there could turn out to be a relationship between which elements a person uses most readily and which they use best in their poetry. I would guess the relationship to be direct; that's the assumption I used in trying to identify the categories in the first place. If I find a lot of other people who seem to have an inverse relationship between element use in their personality versus their poetry, I would have to go back and re-investigate my understanding process from the beginning. Because if I had a direct correlation and others had one that was inverse, I'd need to know why, whether the connections I saw were an artefact of my assumptions or reflected some more complex reality.

So there was a quick whirlwind tour of the kind of thoughts Fifi thinks all day. Magic and science, mishmoshed into something that produces what I consider awesome results!