I think the books I've been reading over the last few months - about Dante, Siena, theology, & etc. - are helping me crystallize some ideas, figure out what I'm doing. A little light seemed to go on last night (I could be fooling myself).

It's not so much a new set of ideas, as recovering a certain trajectory which seems to appear & fade intermittently.

I'm sort of a transcendentalist. For whom - prior to the details of any religious tradition - there is a more basic orientation : that of the human being facing the fact of a higher consciousness (the "ground of Being", & etc.). (Thinking of Hart Crane, out cold in the dentist's chair, hearing a voice repeating "you have the higher consciousness! You have the higher consciousness!")

And I've become preoccupied with the notion that this kind of orientation has become unfamiliar - difficult for us to grasp. It might be said that the 20th century replayed (in its own fashion) the cultural-psychological egocentricity which so strongly marked the Renaissance. Our civilization has no formed "theodicy" - no way of speaking about God (beyond a sort of religious positivism constructed out of magic verbal formulae). (By this I don't mean to denigrate anyone's faith, or any of the valid cultural phenomena. What I mean is that our civilization is not intellectually comfortable with a transcendentalist viewpoint. The travails and horrors of the 20th century made 19th-cent. Romantic idealism obsolete; but the root of it all - the basic stance toward reality - stepson of earlier stances, which can be placed under the general designation "piety" - has not been effaced.)

The differing entailments for one's sense of life and reality, stemming from these two paths - the one, in which the ground of being is centered in the psychological self, and the other, in which the ground of the self is located in some kind of higher spiritual-intellectual source - seem quite serious (while remembering that consciousness itself is a riddle, and that the boundary between subjectivity & otherness is more like quantum spookiness than Euclid).

Various forms of materialist philosophy & psychology have found ways to avoid this issue, or dismiss it. But I can't avoid it myself.

The little light that went on for me last night was a kind of retrospective grasp of previous notions regarding the socio/political/historical/literary consequences of this basic "transcendentalist" position. I have some ideas (or share some ideas) about the mystery of the shaping role of "the Word" - how it intervened in human history, how it is fulfilled (recapitulated) in personal, individual experience - which I want to set forth as poet and in poetry.

I think of poetry as a form of expression which is specially adapted to reflect the "elan vital" of this stance toward reality. Dante, Blake, Whitman, Hopkins, Dickinson & many others - via many different tonalities - worked in this vein.

The bland little poem posted below - "Riddle of the Ridda" - really is a riddle (a riddle which is not a riddle!). Its submerged meaning has to do with what I see as that underlying form of human life and the history of the world, under the sign of the circling Verb. The "riddle" is sort of shorthand for themes I want to investigate more specifically as this poem develops. ("Ridda" - traditional Italian folk dance - shown in the Lorenzetti fresco in Siena.)

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