9.11.2013

E-strangement

Writing is a method of engraving (as the makers of cuneiform scratches & hieroglyphs & prehistoric wall graffiti understood).  Lots of writers, philosophers, critics, theorists, poets have carved deep ruts in the clay covering this theme, of course.  Monuments outlasting bronze, & all that.  "That in black ink my love may still shine bright." (Shakespeare, Sonnet 65) 

The writer is a cave painter too, with his or her own private grotto.  We cast our voices into the shady well, wait for faint echoes.

I'm jotting this down here today as a kind of complaint, though I have nothing to complain about.  It's just that I feel pressured by the noise of the journalism of poetry - the constant roar of ambitious young author-seekers, the rusty screech of the Fame ferris wheel.  As if writing is all about what lies in front of us, now.  Whereas it sometimes seems to me the mob of scriptorians has it all backwards.  Writing & poetry are not for now, for the daylight.  They are an imaginary escape from the daylight and its noise.  They form a sort of alternate dream-space.  Maybe some explorer will chance upon it centuries later - but for the time being it's not available, there is no public access.  Writing is a sort of revenge against the way things are.

Understood : this is a pretty defeatist-elitist attitude.  A bad attitude. Self-defeating.  The useful poems of social uplift will never emerge from this attitude (though maybe Isaiah's three years of public nakedness in prophetic protest is a sort of photo-negative of what I mean).  Mayhap.  Anyway, it's just a feeling.  Poetry is a sort of scar tissue, a tattoo scratched in pain, a long time ago.

Or possibly I'm just discouraged, & resentful.  Bad boy, Henry.

I think of the Bible in this way, and of the haunted authors of the Gospels.  They understood the Bible as the great whale - Melville's gargantuan palimpsest of scar tissue - layer upon layer of memoir and misprision, hint & double-meaning.  & then they - the Gospel writers - tied it all into a knot : the knot of a God-man.  A haunted Personage.... the Person as telos - as ultimate, cosmic "end" (purpose & finality).  Jesus was the "antitype" of all the scrawled prefigurings of the Bible, generation after generation.  The strange fruit of a long memory.  This is the Christian argument, anyway (debatable, of course).  And we are all - all persons, everywhere - minor local antitypes of the high Divine Antitype.

I wish there were, I guess, a critical-philological room somewhere, to get away from the noise of ambitious, aspiring "social media" poets (I'm one of them).   Some occluded garden, very private.  Eugenio Montale's rustling backyard. Very Gongorismo.

Maybe poetry likes to evade all our surveillance systems, promo-megaphones.  Maybe the muse is off the grid.


2 comments:

Surazeus Astarius said...

Yes, the human who disconnects from the collective hive mind and dreams alone inside the skull cave will paint dreams of the world on the wall of time.

Urban Mermaid said...

Go Henry!

Emily