Verbal Promontory

Integritas, consonantias, claritas : dimensions of beauty, according to Thomas Aquinas.  In James Joyce's translation : "wholeness, harmony, radiance."  Claritas : radiance, brilliance, intelligibility.

The work of art - if it's a thing of beauty, then it's a "whole" thing, an integral thing, a distinct, whole something.

Beginning, middle, end.  Shape, design, coherence.

Philosophers, of course, have chewed over aesthetics forever.  "Our aesthetic response is subjective, but the beauty to which we respond is universal."  Or so one argument goes.

And humanity displays something called "common sense" - sensus comunis.  We share sensibility (response to experience) and understanding (comprehension of same).  Whether or not these are "transcendental" or somehow otherwise determined.

Philos. 101.

Why am I going on like this?  I have ten minutes before I leave the building.

Poetry is one of the modes of human art-making.  We make whole objects, which manifest their own integrity, their coherence, their radiance.

The poet's sense of history differs slightly, perhaps, from that of the historian or the philosopher.  Because the poet responds especially strongly to the aesthetic dimension of a poem - no matter when the poem was produced.  Poets, of course, may have a more or less acute critical sense (say, of the social/existential/political differences between today and 200 B.C.) - which can affect their responses to poems of past ages.  But I think there is always a basic (or maybe residual) artistic response to the "poem as such".  This is why they (the poems) keep getting translated anew.  There is something integral which inheres in them.

I have to shut down now.  So why am I going on like this?  I have no general advice for writers (all those would-be poets in Seattle this weekend).  But for me, the adventure of making poems has a lot to do with responding - in my own stuff - to miraculous writings of long ago (or not so long ago).

Claritas, radiance, intelligibility... there is always hope for the sensus comunis of world civilization.  But maybe we need the detachment from the gamesmanship (our own, & our crowding contemporaries).  We need to sense the objectivity of art, and find our own mode of detachment.

I have built a sort of stony promontory in words.  It's lonesome out here.  But I'm hoping it will last, after the cookie-cutter parade has passed on by.

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