We make ourselves pictures of the facts.
I am thankful for Jay's question a couple of weeks ago about "the conditions (assuming they can be defined) which permit something to qualify as a full image" because it has given me so much to think about. I think I might have something halfway coherent to say about it now.
The first thing I want to note is the adjective "full", which I also used in the original post. I had talked about "full imagery" in contrast to the, as it were, "mere" aesthetic feeling of Kitasono's sample line
a shell, a typewriter and grapes
But I think it is important to remember that the items on this list are quite real, and the words themselves are "fully" meaningful. There seems, then, to be two sets of conditions: those that permit something to qualify as an item on a list and those that permit it to qualify as an image in a poem: indeed, we can say that what we're after here is the distinction between "mere" lists and "full" poems. And Kitasono's procedure is very interesting because it suggests that it is possible to produce imagery, and to go on to produce ideoplasty (or what he called "orthodox poetry"), by the accumulation of lists, i.e., by the concatenation of items.
Some will pause at the other words we seem compelled to use to state this problem, as I do. The conditions in question are to "permit" imagery, by "qualifying" something. We can ask, what is this "something" when divested of the relevant conditions? What is it qualified to be? I think we can proceed experimentally here.
Put three grapes on a white plate.
I am asking you actually to do this, or to do something that is, for all phenomenological intents and purposes, similar (put a couple of round purple somethings on a flat white something . . . or something.) It is not enough that you imagine it because that would of course beg the question.
You're stuck with the image as long as you look at this plate. Cover the plate with a napkin (or something). The image is lost but the items remain there under the napkin. My question now is whether something comparable can be achieved with words. I think Kitasono managed it.
The individual words, "shell", "typewriter", "grapes", evoke images immediately, but when listed along with the conjunction "and" we can't get our minds easily around what is supposed to be happening. That is, when listed, they become items. Now, consider our experiment in terms of a "mere" list
three grapes and a white plate
Well, this is qualitatively almost as good as
three grapes on a white plate
which is to say, it "qualifies as an image". Why? Because the grammar of these words themselves, "grapes" and "plate", so to speak, put the grapes on the plate for us. This sort of thing is no doubt what poetry teachers make a great deal out when trying to explain the brilliance of William Carlos Williams' art of lineation. Kitasono carefully selected words that are held together only by a vague aesthetic feeling, if at all.
I will say more on this tomorrow.