The spell of the ordinary

on August 7, 2008 with 0 comments » | ,

The Russian formalists have an idea called 'Osternani' - which means we get too used to life, too used to things..and the oddest role is to always break that spell of the ordinary, the spell of the usual.
That's me transcribing something said by Charles Mudede, currently the Associate Editor for the Seattle-based weekly The Stranger as well as lecturer in English Humanities at the Pacific Lutheran University, located near Tacoma, Washington. Fascinating person!

P.S. I likely do not have the Russian word correctly but am only writing it as I heard it in the video. I tried to find a transcript of Mudede's video but found only an erudite book review by him on Russian formalists and an article from his famed Police Beat column, which has some wonderful sentences about the same idea.
It was the Russian Formalists who defined poetry as being in the condition of strangeness. Ordinary language is ordinary language because it is ordinary. It does nothing surprising. Poetic language is poetic because it is defamiliarized, strange. The objective of most police reports is to be ordinary, but some reports, such as this one by Officer Stephen Hirjak, are so strange that they mirror the Russian Formalist's definition of poetry. This, however, was not the intention of Hirjak's report. It was written with all seriousness and is about a very unfortunate incident.

--
Habitualization devours works, clothes, furniture, one's wife, and the fear of war... And art exists that one may recover the sensation of life; it exists to make one feel things... --Victor Shklovsky

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