Are you able to provide an example of how to appropriately respond to another student's response to Shklovsky's idea of art as technique?

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Noelle Thompson | High School Teacher | eNotes Employee

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Your original question mentioned "Shlovsky."  Because there is no artist named "Shlovsky," my guess is that this is a typo and who you really meant was "Victor Shklovsky."  The edited question reflects this change.

What I understand from your question is that a fellow student responded to Shklovsky's art as technique.  You are required to provide a response.  First, it is very important to understand whether you either agree or disagree with Shklovsky.  Second, it's very important to understand whether you either agree or disagree with the student who originally responded to Shlovsky.  Thus, because I do not know your thoughts either about Shklovsky or about what the original student wrote, I can't help as much as you would like.  I will, however, write MY response to Shklovsky and then suggest how you could respond to ME as the first response.

Let me begin with a response to Shklovsky:

     Shklovsky believes that the usual way to think is by nixing as much fear of the unknown as possibly by making what is unfamiliar easily understandable.  This involves a lot of "learning to ignore" many things in order to boil a new idea down into something understandable. We have not really "learned" anything if it takes a lot of conscious effort to achieve mastery.  Riding a bike is a good example.  Even if we are able to balance on a "two-wheeler," we haven't really learned unless we can steer, use the brakes, distinguish between gears, and pedal.  The same goes with reading.  If we spend too much time focusing on each individual words, we won't be able to "read between the lines."  We begin to perceive things too automatically and miss the little steps along the way (pedaling, ... words, ... etc.). 

     Shklovsky wants to force us to pay attention to those little things.  That is the "purpose" of art according to Shklovsky. Unlike a usual object (like an apple) a piece of art is more than just a "piece of art," it makes the observer pay close attention and focus on the little things to determine differences, similarities, etc.

     To talk about Shklovsky is to talk about defamiliarisation (which is a word that Shklovsky has coined).  If one can make something familiar suddenly seem unfamiliar, then that person is a true artist.  Words can be used the same as paint or other media.  Changes in rhythm or line length can achieve the same effect.  This is especially true in poetry.  Anything that promotes this high level of awareness is truly art.

Now to attempt direction for you in regards to a response:

Again, this depends on whether you agree with Shklovsky or the student responding.  If you agree, you can spend your time re-stating Shklovsky's ideas and giving different examples (such as I did above).  If you disagree with Shklovsky, you could talk about art being more about seeing the good of the whole instead of the parts separately. For example, enjoying the beauty of an ocean scene (instead of warping yourself into noticing grains of stand) or enjoying the beauty of a pastoral hillside (instead of being interested in the individual words of a poem that constitute that hillside). You could even talk about being "familiar" with something as a prospect of less stress and more peace.  You could, then, generally disagree with his concept of defamiliarisation.

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