This blog page will feature my personal thoughts, doubts, and demons concerning the poetic impulse and its eccentricities. This is where you learn of the real me as a poet engulfed in doubt, yet believes doubting makes it so. A poet whose words find hearts to rest in yet still cannot fulfill their creator, a jovial yet often failing, angry person who can hate a g-d he doesn’t believe in, can curse a world he sorely loves. Love…what seems to vanish.
Day one: Festering doubts seem to share their spirits with others. Am I a valid person and does my poetic voice matter? By writing poetry, am I turning a new leaf or questioning the mathematics of the universe? Are the networks and probabilities being dissolved, am I corrupting the truth I cherish…am I making a difference in lives I will never know?
I can only be one person, and the world will not be saved. Words lift the thick deep from our eyes, and teach us to dig further into ourselves. The subject of my poem “The Digger” is this very thing. I tire of the nausea, the golden torch of a promised liberty and the efforts to expunge the violence and adapt to it– to forget that dark sleep emblazons us all. Yet what could exhaust my energies but a large body of poetry? Do I have more to give?
The politics of disaster and dalliance with narcissism– something my country has allowed in its members, and even encouraged– I don’t see eye to eye with those who look to the wind, yet sense nothing. Long ago, my brave fathers tread a guilty earth and were aware. To demystify the poetic impulse is to stare into dark regions, to fear the beating of your heart yet thread the gold from the loom of your thought. In recesses of the soul, sweet honey thickens and captures words like bees and drowns them in amber.
No. Your individualism will not account for the stampede of flesh you are becoming. In due time, the child of your struggle will be born and you will cast away your sorrows and bleed anew. The suffering is neverending– and dreams often startle the dreamer.
Day Two: Yet freedom means there must be barriers. Otherwise there is nothing to cross, and if you cannot transgress you are not free. Law enables form to evolve, to seek beyond the shape and color. Art, poetry specifically, will engage the spectator– it will drive the sociable misfit to the other side of yearning.
I don’t know what the ‘courage to be’ means, and I do not see the horizon, the sense of the second guess. I read recently that those who believe in a deity are better at reading others’ intentions. Have I missed opportunities because of my lack of belief? Why should I trust a god that leaves me on my own to make decisions he will condemn or condone, and only asks for my love for this curse? A god who demands my love is a weakling. I can only ask that the male god who created men first out of loneliness look deeper into himself and find why he is so demeaning to homosexuals, especially since he wants me on my knees begging.
Not to mention his empty phrasing, calling all humanity “Man” in singular tense– suddenly expecting a man to be men collectively, as if every person was the same as any others. If he wanted something from me, he has lost his entitlement to it. It seems more and more people are embracing fascism morally– assuming each person is internally equipped with the same needs, desires, and personalities. How then, can diversity exist? Why then, are there a mix of races, languages, and patterns in life? Science discovers the law of non-duplication. God tries to erase it, making unreasonable demands on human nature. Even though he created human nature, he endowed “Man” with a need for him and free will. So all he asks for is blind worship– all the bad mistakes are yours only. If you won’t love him, he condemns you to burning emptiness and fear…yet, he expects your love in fear and trembling.
I don’t like having senselessness shoved down my throat. If this religion makes sense to you, by all means don’t question it. I would encourage you to question the belief that there is a church that once talked of “the Elect”, only clergy went to Heaven…then you could buy your forgiveness no matter who you were. Then it was convert or die. Now it’s freedom, and if you don’t believe we will beat you with a ruler in class and publicly embarrass you. Suddenly god loves freedom after he has executed all the infidels and natives.
Why should religious fervor act contagiously toward others? If god won’t be responsible for the worse human tendencies, he reserves no right to the good ones either. If you don’t think history matters, perhaps you don’t understand the dynamics of time– the past creates the future. In historical narrative, it is always the murderer who writes the accepted tale. If your faith outweighs the freedom it supposedly grants me– “make this choice, else die and suffer”– I reserve the right to lash back at your demands, the ones that annoy me.
My anger isn’t because of a lack of god– it’s because the simpleminded cannot step away from their vengeful yet loving father in the sky. When did love take revenge for its own sake? How is it love to demand worship from me? Call the sentries and turn them to stone.
Day 3: I have spent several hours on Facebook today, posting poems and comments about politics. I often take discussions personally because no one comes out convinced of anything but me. Open-mindedness is often its own punishment. Yet it is a blessing.
Dark and light are the two heads of the same beast. Often solutions are like many-headed hydras that once one head is cut, more emerge. Solutions lead to problems, and problems are unresolved. Human nature is flexible to time and place because its key component is to adapt.
What are we adapting to these days? Authorities in high places sometimes encroach on our liberty to create the world as we wish, and it is often true we depend on these authorities to protect and unite us. I read that group selectivity makes for aggressive punishment toward those who are in the top ranks to keep natural checks on power. I sometimes wonder what goes through our leaders’ heads as they command soldiers to their deaths and execute laws that can’t work. Do they feel blameworthy? Henry Kissinger is releasing a new book that discusses his perspectives on foreign policy and the troubles worldwide (http://tinyurl.com/pyhgg5e). Is it better we left well enough alone or should the USA involve itself in conflicts overseas?
I wonder if our leaders are psychopaths in tightfisted pose. Jesus spoke beautifully of the wolves and sheep lying down in the same pasture. Isaiah the prophet wrote of beating our swords into ploughshares. Yet Washington, I believe, said those who beat their swords into ploughshares are beaten by those who don’t. What an unfortunate lot we are! Wanting the best for all and unable to deliver it. Poetry, in its sublime aspects, touches the human spirit and addresses all its concerns. We long for peace, we want less trouble and an end to depravity and deprivation, and we struggle with our passions to subdue them. It’s a battle to be human- every day is a struggle, a torment, and a failure.
Hope comes from learning to separate fact and fiction, and allowing yourself the freedom to simply live– knowing that your life isn’t the global life, and that the troubles you see on the news are foreign to your own trouble. When you realize there is nothing you can do at the moment, you are free to simply be. So much misery confronts us through televised pleas for donations to feed starving children, news stories of military blunders, left/right divisions and discussions that lead nowhere, and the pursuit of truth- a truth that, like God, is everywhere and nowhere, impossible to apprehend.
Life is fullness or emptiness, your choice. Suffering is inevitable, but separating yourself from its sources will give you better perspective. You will see yourself as full in the emptiness, and the light will open you. Emptiness, luminosity…these are universal expressions of divine nature that is both action and non-action. The Western sense of non-contradiction has led us to blindly seek perfection and to lose the fundamental value of experience and our noble nature.
Day Four: There has been much talk of “Self” lately, and I have sought to come to an understanding with the essential meaning of this term. I think “Self” extends further than identity or surface thought. There is an inner core of being that all too often escapes our notice.
We, in our search and society, develop schisms and fragments of essence we strive to hide behind the cold complexity of our pain as a growing person. The rest of the world seeks to alienate us from the core realm of light. Do we realize that reaching this light is only darkness? That we are blinded by its commotion? That the wound that glows and festers without our recognition of it only widens and bleeds more?
I often find that who we are is not compatible with the image we portray to others, or the image they trap us into as we scurry in our holes and compartmentalize trust and love. Seeing a person as only image, stereotyping, is dehumanizing. You are putting others in categories based on previous experiences with people who share many key characteristics in common with them. Not every person who wears a red hat and green jeans is an elf. Sometimes that person is a baseball player, or a mechanic, but why should his profession enter our judgments of him? How often the physical simplicity of a person ruins our perception…
I find myself in the trap of beauty all too often. I am a poet and poets love the array of beauty in the world, the wonder of proportion, the harmony of each part with another. Fitness and health are prerequisites to survival. People naturally desire longetivity, and this evolutionary effort serves the purpose of heightening our worldly understanding so we can improve ourselves, or circumstances, and our behavior. I strongly feel we are on our own in this effort. It is such a struggle to live, but we are accustomed to live, and no philosopher will recommend suicide or murder. Each to his own part, and the proportions will neatly fit.
Beauty relaxes in understanding. We must see a person as one whole of being, as both a fragment and the inevitable whole that seeks its own unity. Why are forces divided into two? Because a unity required two forces: thesis and antithesis. If we define God as the ultimate good, then this dialectic defines him as synthesis. Therefore, God cannot be the final beginning. Something reached ahead of his existence and the struggle of emptiness and chaos brought God together. God– a closed system confining all elementals– and Human, the open system that is divided in two and is persuaded to come together to build harmony. All of life is an open system, and God certainly lives– but existence precedes essence, and life is existence. What beings have in common with non-beings is the quality of existing, both feeding off each other. No one knows the origins because that is too far back, before the phenomenon of creation.
The Void is a predatory and complicated thing.
I believe Nietzsche did not rule out the supernatural altogether. Rather, he questioned the Christian assumption of God’s purity. He also questioned the nature of life and concluded that living is an art. This is in line with living authentically, a maxim of existentialism. Passion is a futile and distressing thing, but without it our spirits are contented and restless. The heat is still stored but the momentum is unheard of. All of life requires the best of its members and we are all one through the transference of heat. All work is activity and transformation of energy.
Nietzsche proposes an interesting timeline concerning the real and apparent worlds. I believe he brought the two together in the final stages because when the illusory and the real meet, the illusory is destroyed. Gradually the two worlds (strictly a clash of philosophies: materialism and idealism) are imposed against one another and the real is made sovereign. Oddly, the ideal world is one of heretical vision and vague delusion. The true world is absent of such error, and only the fearless can swallow it.
The entire procession begins anew in the eternal recurrence. The play is repeated, restored, and drawn to a full close. The real world flirts with our imperfect being. At some point representation actualizes– then dramatic tension invites the Godhead to sweep the mess.
Yet God is a metaphor, a troubling concept, an inadequate account of our strivings. Alpha makes the first move, and after all is said and done Omega returns to explain the joke.
We are all walking carcasses, empty of objectivity, only existing and never being, being…what is being and why can’t we define it?
Striving, empty watercourses through the poet’s yearning. Architecture is like several sighs in the night when all that’s left is an empty hat, dirty jeans, and a crumpled tie.
I don’t sound distressed, do I? After all, I am channeling a persona?
Well…the poetic personality is a noble armor, but thin of heart. I find myself with odd, nightmarish people because I open my frequencies to fearful reserves. I meet people who bully, antagonize, and betray their closest friends or try to shrink them down. This personality is fitful and disturbed, but I brave the tears he causes and tarry down the path open-armed. Sometimes the gate must latch when my endeavors are under surveillance and I feel discouraged from my mission.
Poet. Poet is what? A friend to truth, a lonely seeker? Those don’t exist anymore. Darkness cannot suffocate the crowded mind. All of us develop creative community and seek others to share our discoveries. Does it lessen the enchantment we have with loneliness and tormented words? Does language’s emotive personality find higher reaping in solitude? Poetry is a solemn garment that attends the moon’s funeral, and the moon was a harsh mistress. Poetry reaches out, it tosses the coin and sings.
I forgot to keep the curtains open this morning. I feel the fission and fusion of worlds stretched before me. Dissolution and disarray are partners in this business.
There isn’t a god to appeal my case. Satan is a triumphant and vindictive lawyer who keeps all my sins in his tiny briefcase. When he opens it, they spill out across the floor and turn to luminous flame. No one is allowed to touch them but I am expected to understand how they blazed and why.
If you wish, reader, to understand this allegory: suffer. I cannot condemn suffering. It teaches humility, perseverance, compassion, and encourages disciplined thought. However, I abhor cruelty and simple-mindedness. Life is its own guillotine with blade ever rising, sharpening in the light, expecting devolution and nervous chatter. Keats wrote that society progresses socially and economically as it reaches out through time. I read of a concept, I believe Freudian, of the theory of decadence: guilt grows as society progresses. Maybe time isn’t an outfolding of wings as much as a pair of shears that trims feathers and releases them to dance in the wind. Those feathers find each other and pile on the dirt floor, and carry the appearance of a bird. Guilt is a deep anger and dread– Original Sin, they say, is the breach between man and God. All of God’s children, children of Adam, have been forsaken and are degrees from God. Yet, world, you are redeemable? Christ ascends after descending– is this a symbolic depth, a trust he holds?
Now, we are all Christ. The mystery is Aristotlean tragedy. The way we see ourselves and how Jesus was executed, though innocent, as a guilty one. We imagine ourselves as him in metaphor, hapless victims executed in a cruel existence for crimes we did not commit– the crime of existing, of being passionate. Fear and pity are compounded emotions. We feel ourselves on the Cross, and we pity the victim and his situation. Pity is dread, existentially speaking. Jesus’ life parallels our own, and our minds fathom the plunder of retribution– we fear God, we tremble, and we beg as animals at a Master who seems distant and lost. The human beast only learns by fire.
Now, it is wise to respect cruel masters…even when their cruelty is disorganized, inexplicable, and frequent. To protest– to ask for more, to enjoin hands even– is to balance the powers that burden us. Fear and pity are the elements of tragedy: the strength of Christ’s punishment and doubt, when we are forced to pity ourselves inwardly.
Love is a form of sublimation in some, a dissolving of the barrier between ego and world. Poets perhaps naturally sublimate their suffering, their contradictions and desire for consistency, and the inner rage of their solitude. Some say poets have a love-torn soul. Some say it is difficult not to love a poet, and others say if God gives you a poet then listen to him/her.
Many people commit their thoughts, ideas, and internal dialogue to paper, but what distinguishes a poet from others? Perhaps a soul that spends itself outward and dreams? Perhaps a sharp wisdom of the world that bites?
Each morsel of wisdom the poet exposes is digested in the moral fabric of the universe. Poets are the world’s representatives to the creative force sustaining us. That force permits– and evaporates in the entirety of space. Recently I wrote a poem called “Nothing is Absolute!” It is a philosophical speculation rather than an actual poem. I use poetically structured stanzas to speak about the deeper things of the Universe. This is the poem:
Nothing is Absolute!
Nothing is merely the absence of Something.
Does life begin with absence,
that which fills itself?
Certainly emptiness is built for filling.
Each being is a sentience or role
played by the invisible spectator—
the hidden is our origin,
and we grasp it unaware.
At the deepest level, we are complex enigmas
that fill a distant, absurd Nothingness.
Because before something is filled, it must be empty.
How can we exist if there is Something complete
beyond our recognition?
All learning is fact,
and if something exists it must be true.
To permit all is the law of Being—
and yet from what do we strain?
Is heart pure heartlessness?
Does cruelty contain a depth we misunderstand?
Poetry compels paradox from the mind—
ignites, blackens, and perplexes the vision we hold.
The instinct for blurred vision
is fulfilled by the categories of sound
that train our breath, open and closed,
to wink and shudder.
We know what knowledge is yet cannot easily define
how we know.
The meshing of threshed concepts
in the song of life—
the absurdity that deepens our wonder,
the fear that hides from our minds,
this is poetry.
Life is a form of conversation
between two deaf listeners
who seem to abandon the necessity of making sense
What is created between their words
if they cannot hear?
Absence compels the need for existence
because what is empty needs to be filled
to realize its law and limitation.
Nothing is absolute!
Yet I struggle to engage the complexity—
to seek the forgotten
and un-dream the threads of my existence.
One day, I shall move from perception
and my own meager form
into a dark cave of comparison.
For I, a Something that is emptiness to be filled,
must long for more, must seek to lose,
and grant wings to the unimaginable.
This poem was noted by Charles Bane, Jr. and my partner in business. Both though the poem was good. It was even compared to Tennyson’s “Ulysses” by Dr. Chuck Taylor who said it fit into the “philosophical tradition” of poetry. A friend said it wasn’t up to par with my other work, and she also said that not all readers will agree, and poems inspire different reactions. I would love your thoughts, whoever you are, on the poem.
“The poets are in the vanguard of a changed conception of Being.”
― Martin Heidegger
No truer words were ever spoken about poets. The soul is a river, wide and deep, and some stick to waist-deep, others go under. But why is poetry such an intimate experience? Who are we bouncing ideas off? Is there some cosmic sense of Otherness “out-there” we reach toward to unite our fragile frames to Being? How can we conceive of what it means to Be when we ourselves are immersed in it?
Yes, Heidegger was a Nazi but let’s put that aside for a broader understanding of his philosophy before we jump onto the social justice bandwagon. His questions are deeper than political philosophy. This is exactly why we should avoid censorship. Let’s disparage Ezra Pound– but his aesthetics were always deeper than his shallow political persuasion. The same is true of Heidegger. If we burn libraries, we toss the baby out with the bathwater. What if Heidegger’s fundamental questions and pursuit can enrich us in spite of his hideous political commitments?
Don’t deep questions always lead in circles and generally bend toward an agnostic answer? Theologians tells us “we can’t justify the ways of God to men.” Thus, they explain nothing. Heidegger says we can’t unveil much about the nature of Being because we are immersed in it. How can we define that which we participate in? Is a game defined by rules? If the sum is greater than the parts, how do we define Being without a counterpart? How do we determine if Being is the whole, or only part? If it is only part, then what is the rest of the sum?
Sartre proposes Being and nothingness. That which exists outside and within Being is nothingness– Aristotle would call it “potential.” An actuality is the negation of potentials. So Being is then the negation of nothingness– in logic, this is two negatives forming a positive– thus, the negation falls full circle. As Heidegger discusses, reason runs in a circle and once you return you know you have completed it. He used Descartes’s logic of the cogito, to the world, to God Himself, as an example. The circle proves my existence isn’t a lie. This is all I know. I exist.
Poetry, being the art of language, shifts the conversation of Being. It rearranges the terms. It provides new symbolizations and situations.
The human capacity to create is unique in us. We transform. This material of Being and its flexibility should be embraced wholly. To live authentically is to create. Freedom is the only means we have at our disposal to unite the terms of Being and address them. When we act, we create. Being itself is a mode of existing and it substantiates us in our creation.
Being is meaning. Meaning is essential to living. It is using language to create fullness where there is emptiness. The poets are troubled beings. They are born broken. They are more human than human. They are vulnerable. They love, they ignite, they sparkle, and they gravitate.
Don’t let the world fool into thinking this isn’t important.
3 comments on “Poetry is also a personal experience…”
Much to think about here. More than think about- ponder. reflect upon. Thank you for sharing.
Thank you. I call each entry a “day” even though they aren’t written in succession. I am obsessed with a god I don’t believe in, in developing a new metaphysics based on dialectic, void philosophy, and German idealism. Boehme has been an inspiration for me because he posits the idea that something existed before God. That the Void birthed God, and that God is the organizer of matter. I call God the “unifying principle” or the “ultimate knowledge of the Good”. I identify as a materialist, and have decided God is a substance. Much of the material world escapes the human eye. Living in Texas where the Bible is pushed heavily has lead me to a curiosity of Biblical texts. My favorites are Ecclesiastes, Job, Jeremiah, and Isaiah. There isn’t a single poet (even Shelley who was admittedly an atheist) who doesn’t repect the Bible literature, and hasn’t some transcendental concept. God is the ground of being in existential philosophy. I have been most inspired by the Old Testament and Nietzsche in all my thinking.
Jung wrote that the human psychology develops in three stages: categories (many disparate elements acting out of order), duality (sort of a dialectical tension represented in binaries), and unity. For me, observation of unity is recognizing that all tensions (political left/right, for instance) are productive of the Ultimate Good and serve a higher purpose than themselves. Most people view themselves as a supreme entity representing a good which is distinctly their own good, but they cannot see that their opponent in the binary system is necessary to affirm and challenge their values. Unity then means appreciating your opposite– male and female eventually unite to birth the human race.
I am at the stage where I am reaching toward unity but still clinging to the duality of my middle age.