Wednesday, January 6, 2010

We Each Become the Rebirth of Ancient Light

“Man is never identical to himself.”  Octavio Paz in The Bow and the Lyre.  This is source of art, of poetry, which is in large part the attempt to identify the self, to unite with it, to close the gap between  being where we are and where we feel we want to be.  Having said that I can tell you what I really wanted to say:  that through poetry we  attempt to close the gap between what we are and what we are.

To close the gap is likely impossible since language  itself is an artifice—a damned good one but still artifice—in that the word “chair” represents a chair but isn’t a chair and is different  to each one of us although we all generally agree on what it is.  Nevertheless our natural tropism, our “ineluctable modality” of the invisible (a la Stephen Dedalus in James Joyce’s Ulysses), is to close this gap we find as a given in life.

If we pursue a path designed to close, heal really, this gap and, given that there is a limited number of human emotions and that language is artifice, why the hell do we try?  Billions of men and women have failed before us, even the great ones.  Why do we bother to cry out?  The reason is that we each cry uniquely; our poetic DNA is unique to each of us.  Language may be artifice but, despite our general agreement about what words mean, it is flexible enough to represent the expression of unique individuals uniquely. Language is the tool of individuation.

Practically speaking the route to  individual expression stamped with one’s own poetic DNA is to practice writing a lot.  A real lot.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again:  You must write and write and write.  Write poetry every day.

Once your unique voice emerges you’ve finally reached the beginning; and the road goes on forever for “man is never identical to himself”.  But what a road it is.

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