Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Religioheroics; Or, A Return to Poetry

Eventually, I return to literature.

Through distractions, jobs and side jobs,
politics, basketball, digressions into society
and being and Oneness -- it all returns,
eventually, to this.

Had an interesting discussion with an acquaintance
the other day regarding the social value of
poetry. Interesting, largely because he is not
(to my knowledge) a poet or aspiring poet,
and how often does one get to steer the
conversation to a sation con verse? Interest of
full disclosure, he is a songwriter.

At some point, he asked why anyone wrote the
damned stuff in the first place. Fair question,
really. As it has been said a thousand times here,
and billions of times elsewhere, there ain't no money
in it. There's precious little respect, as well. I looked
at him, and realized his rook play had forced me
into the overly sentimental refrain: "Because they
have to." I cannot see any viable alternative to
the answer. I suppose the problem is that the people
that "have to" may not necessarily be the ones one might
want to. But, what can we expect in these times? I made
another observation (I've been keen on observations
lately) that I, along with my wife, exist an anachronism.
I am a typewriter guy who loves books, the art of boxing
and the thrill of Charley Patton in a MacBook world
where youtube videos, "mixed martial arts" and
(insert terrible pop act here) reign. This is not an existential
crisis. It isn't meant to sound as woebegone as it might.
It is just the case.

My remedy? Well, first, I'm ignoring boxing. Anyone who
saw the Hopkins-Calzaghe travesty might come to the
same conclusion. To the more important points: I'll keep
my humble library and enjoy life as I like it. Not becoming
more of a Luddite than I've been before... just realizing that
if I am out of step with the big picture, I don't give a damn.
Have you looked at "big picture society" lately? Who wants
it? I'll keep Barack Obama and -- I'll admit it! -- my MacBook,
bin the rest of it.

A new line of inquiry is that of the power word. Despite the
shenanigans and chicanery of the "mystic" crowd (no more
than the more terrestrial academic or political crowd) there
seems to be something to it. I think this is why good poetry,
with its keen juxtapositions, elicits the Jungian Oceanic
feeling in so many of us. The healing sounds, in qigong
parlance. Increasingly, the role of poetry as a social force,
or, at least, a viable means of communication, seems to be
that of the mystical. People are right to say that poetry
doesn't have much impact on them in the contemporary
age, mainly because poetry shouldn't go to the head so much
as over it and under it: it should reside in the aura and the
gut. One can replace aura for soul or spirit or whatever term
he chooses, the point stays the same. So, the postmodern pull
towards concrete imagery and mundane subject matter is
precisely what has rendered poetry socially inviable. It isn't
hard to see, really. It isn't so much that it is an antiquated
art form in the Information Age. More that it is a specific
art form with a distinct purpose as it relates to the collective
conscience. For the postdurkheimists, collective consciousness.
Both of them. The way to return poetry to its position isn't
to bring it further down to our understanding. Quite the
contrary. The way to return it is to station it where it
properly resides, beyond understanding, beyond thought
and into pure thought. Simply put, to woo our gods. More
simply even, to put together words that resonate beyond
our conscious energy field. To, pardon me for continually
returning to the original Karga commandments, passed
down by its Trinity of Bunting, Byron and Hughes: to take
a chisel to write.

There will be such a movement. For verse to survive, there
needs to be such a movement. Someone let me know when
they get here. I'll make the tea.