Thursday, September 29, 2011

Readings: Some Highbrow Erotica

In a poem entitled "Etymology" from the collection Time and Materials, Robert Hass, immediately after presenting us with images of a waterfall, and rapids of flowing water, gives us this transcendentally beautiful erotic image:

xxxAnd what to say of her wetness? The Anglo-Saxons
xxxHad a name for it. They called it silm.
xxxThey were navigators. It was also
xxxTheir word for the look of moonlight on the sea.

Oh, my...

Friday, September 23, 2011

Readings: Discovering a New-to-Me Poet

Until I was prompted to look into his work further by this post on the very excellent blog of my dear friend Pentimento, I was familiar with Robert Hass only as the translator of some of the works of Czeslaw Milosz. Happily, Mr. Hass turns out to be a formidable poet in his own right (or “write” as John Lennon would have it.)

Here, as a tiny indication of what has elicited my admiration, is the first section of the poem “Sunrise” from Hass’s collection Praise:

Ah, love, this is fear. This is fear and syllables
and the beginnings of beauty. We have walked the city,
a flayed animal signifying death, a hybrid god
who sings in the desolation of filth and money
a song the heart is heavy to receive. We mourn
otherwise. Otherwise the ranked monochromes,
the death-teeth of that horizon, survive us
as we survive pleasure. What a small hope.
What a fierce small privacy of consolation.
What a dazzle of petals for the poor meat.

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx# # #

Oh, to just once write a stanza that strong!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Reflections: The Creative Urge

I offer here, without further comment, quotes from two books that I've recently been reading and a poem of my own, finished just this morning.

I suggest that these three items be read with a thought to understanding why it is that they are related in my mind so that I have presented them in chorus:

from Rimbaud’s Illuminations: a Study in Angelism by Wallace Fowlie:

The theme of Rimbaud’s aloneness and uniqueness, his lack of position in society, his lack of a real bond with humanity is clearly stated in Une Saison and recurs in Les Illuminations, where he cuts himself off from one scene after another as if he were some angel at bay, moving with an angel’s power from setting to setting, without ever finding the precious kingdom where he might live and breathe. The angel is always losing hold of the beings he embraces. He cannot prolong ecstasy or fear. He is not of the world he creates. Every scene collapses into ashes because it was created by magic. The walls in Les Illuminations are always cracking open and the buildings crumbling away as if they were as overcome by dizziness as the protagonist. Each illumination is a world by itself, magically constructed, and giving way in an all-engulfing mysterious chaos to the next world which will stand up for a brief moment as if it were a painted picture. This is the child’s world of order that is really disorder, of a continually emerging chaos where only the poet’s mind can rescue what seems to be reality before it sinks back into the void out of which it first arose.

The soul of the poet is the protagonist of Les Illuminations. It is alternately enhanced by the appearances of the world and harassed by the contradictions of the world. [pp.46-47]

from The Bridge to Nothingness: Gnosis, Kabala, Existentialism, and the Transcendental Predicament of Man by Shlomo Giora Shoham:

We wish to revert to previous developmental phases and to overpower the objective demiurgos; but these goals are impossible and unattainable. Hence, we have to make do with the processes of creativity and revelation and not with their goals, which are either unachievable or meaningless. We, therefore, have the freedom to choose between an inauthentic narcotic that anesthetizes the basic fear and trembling of existence into a false bourgeois gemütlichkeit, or to harness the terror and anxiety of life for authentic creativity and revelation. Man’s exile in the realm of the demiurgos is thus vindicated. The exile of the divine particles enables the relational dialectics of creativity and revelation, which are impossible in the unity of the Godhead. Exile is therefore man’s mission for redemptive Tikkun of both transcendence and himself. It also makes possible the dialogue of grace between man and transcendence. Man needs a God, the “wholly other,” with whom to have a revealing dialogue, even if he is man’s own projection. [p. 170]

Vocation by Rob Dakin

The poet
broods in solitude,
doing penance for his failure
to transcend the light years
between the idea
and the spoken word.

Alone, he reads his work
aloud, then hangs
his scribbled shame
on the wall as a reminder:

His vocation is life without
hope of parole.

To declare victory
and accept the laurel
would be the Big Lie.

Yet his persistence in falling short
of a perfection that is instantly flawed
by his mere intuition of its essence
is his validating raison,
his authentic being --
his existence, ever separate,
but finally, so very close to God.

*****   *****   *****

Indeed, so near and yet so far.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Readings: Before You Take Those Advil

We begin to live when we have conceived life as tragedy. ~ William Butler Yeats

Another passage from The Bridge to Nothingness by S. G. Shoham. This one deals with the positive aspects of pain:

Physical pain is the tool of the demiurgos* for guarding his “property” -- the body. Without the pain incidental to bodily injury, disease, and death, most human beings and many other creatures would probably take their own lives. The demiurgos thus controls built-in safety mechanisms to keep the inmates -- exiled particles of divinity -- incarcerated in their temporal prison, i.e. the body. Without pain souls would easily destroy their prison body and revert back to their origin in the Godhead. The demiurgal ananke, the coercive cosmic forces, as well as evolution, also avail themselves of pain in order to implement their aims. If one exceeds one’s moira, one’s fate in life, the Furies strike with a vengeance in order to push the deviants back into line. Those who do not fit the designs of evolution are wiped painfully yet unceremoniously out of history. Suffering and history are true phenomena, yet pain is also instrumental in jostling man out of his complacency in his demiurgal body and his fear of eternity (death). Man’s revolt against his demiurgal ananke and moira is thus prompted by pain and some suffering (though not too much) is also necessary for revelation and creativity.
*Demiurgos: The Gnostic evil entity, which by the Gnostic participant**bias is responsible for the creation of the world judged vile by the Gnostics***.

**Participation: The identification of ego with a person (persons), an object or a symbolic construct outside himself, and his striving to lose his separate identity by fusion with this other object or symbol.

***Gnosis: The dualistic creeds developed in the Middle East before and concomitant with Christianity, according to which Good and Evil have independent existence.