Apologia parva pro Lanthanum suum

Lanthanum... I understand how you might grow impatient.  Seems to drone on & on without going anywhere.  But you might read it less like a journey, and more like a curtain, or sail-shroud - flimsy, translucent, wavering back & forth in a sea-breeze.  (Nice to think so, anyway.)

& what's with all this obscurity?  I might be accused of whimsical, even (un)ethical complacency.  My response to that : a poem is a kind of dense singing.  You have to enter it slowly, as into a zone or key different from ordinary communication.  It has its own timbre, texture.  If a poem is not sufficient-unto-itself, it's not really a poem : hence I'm constructing a kind of screen or wall (curtain) of slanting sounds & meanings.

Yet this self-sufficiency is not the same as what was once called "art for art's sake" (during the Symbolist-Decadent era).  Because when we say that poetry is an end in itself, we mean this in the same sense that we speak of the aims of any intellectual or artistic labors.  That is, poetry, along with every other productive labor, is self-sufficient in the context of the infinite, the universal.  We say that the beautiful is simply beautiful; it fulfills its purpose thus in being beautiful.  Science fulfills itself in being true - yet the infinite is part of this truth.  So truth, ineluctably, grows deeper, goes farther - on an endless path, which includes infinity.  The poem - as art, as part of the beautiful - must be an end in itself : but all endings reside within this context of endlessness.  Unending growth, change, renewal, discovery... every poem is a way station, a marker, along this infinitely-shady trail.  So, in the end, there is no such thing as "art for art's sake", though the art work may indeed subsist as a self-sufficient end-in-itself.  Art's self-reliance is always simultaneously contextual, within this infinitely-subtle mystery, the ethic of the whole.

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