Sunday, May 31, 2009

Before Canaan

There is no point to pretending that there is any real operating principal here other than the the function of conscience. Why else. Why else care, bother, offer, and be concerned at outcomes. No, not outcomes. There is no outcome. There are outages, and outtakes, to be sure. But even clear results are clearly framed for context. No, I cannot imagine an outcome.

And there are no introductions. Everything is in some parts familiar even if only partially recognized. There is human noise and relief there from. There is work and there is sleep. The conscience runs behind it all, a thrumming machine - a perfectly white noise, by which I mean to allow any sort of implications the reader might incline toward.

What I think to write about runs in the background too until anxiety and/or occasion permits me to bring it to the foreground and rid myself of it. In this way, my conscience is the only one working around here. The body is a sort of machine or vessel for carrying out its prerogatives. No wonder I cannot imagine outcomes. As if my conscience would be concerned with where I end up.

With my material eye, I look to trim the craft, ease the difficulties, simplify. That is my contribution - well, it's an accommodation, isn't it, to my need for comfort. What is pleasure, after all, but relief; and what offers greater relief than fulfilling the dictates of conscience?

This is not to say that I can hope to achieve what my conscience is capable of expecting of me. If the conscience is the voice of the soul, then I may never accompany it. Perhaps this is a common condition. I am one person, and I haven't the energy or desire to presume what others think on this subject. Apparently, my conscience is concerned principally with my conduct and contributions. Whatever ideas I have which do not arise from my conscience are treated as mere suggestions, colorings which fade over time.

It is marvelous to see over a lifetime how little my opinions matter to myself.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Audience, say

Poetry writing is the solution to the problem of having to write a poem. Without a solution, there is no problem, only a condition, or a tragedy. Tragedy is the fact of a condition without a solution. No solution is obvious without there having been a more obvious problem.

A solution is only as lovely as the loveliness of the problem. The heartbroken write lovely poems. Romeo and Juliet is the loveliest of tragedies. There is no solution to the ugliest tragedies. The curtain has yet to descend on the Holocaust. There is no lovely solution to the Holocaust.

When a poet is faced with the problem writing a poem (to solve the problem of having to write a poem) we experience a small sort of tragedy, because the problem cannot be solved except be the perfect solution, which mirrors the classical and mythological solution-making of quest and atonement. Every poet bound to solve the problem of having to write a poem is a Ulysses seeking to place him or herself at Penelope's side. A poet understands the Odyssey perfectly. It is a narrative whose drama resides in what will not and must not occur, not in what does occur. What cannot occur is Ulysses not obtaining the only possible solution to his problem. What occurs between the positing of the problem and the occurrence of the solution is purely historical and incidental. It should be sad though that as the solution to the problem of having to write a poem is obvious, it cannot be a great tragedy. It can be a minor tragedy, but not a great tragedy.

The poet who has written his or her poem has obtained relief, but has not achieved an end. Writing well - even fame - is not a solution to the problem of having to write a poem. Perhaps it is a consolation. Perhaps it is a separate gift. I feel that whether I write well cannot concern anyone but myself, as you have any number of models for writing well, if indeed you feel compelled to write, to solve the problem of having to write a poem by writing a poem.