Friday, May 21, 2010

The Lie of the Art or How to Fail With Really Trying

Let’s see now--

*  Language is inadequate to Truth

*  There is probably no new Truth

*  Only a few very great writers have come near to Truth

*  Even the great ones have missed

*  The best art only implies Truth

Why should we care?  Why should we be careful?  Why not be the extraordinarily gifted monkeys we are and write willy-nilly all day long and at least have a chance that chance will be on our side?  (Given what I read that is currently taken for good poetry I’m inclined to think we’re already doing that.)

Here’s the case I make:

The inadequacy of the arts to truth is the very soil they thrive in.  As high as the bar is raised it will never be high enough and we, being who we are, will try for, must try for it.  We haven’t a choice.  By use of the carefully crafted and inspired implication we avoid the outright and specific lie.  We offer a general one.  The utmost care is taken so that we don’t damage the truth too much.  As poets aiming for truth we risk laying waste the grail by pursuing it.

Every word is a metaphor, an obfuscation of sorts.  The care we apply controls the unattainable some.  Our skill controls it some.  When we are successful we convey less untruth than is common.  It doesn’t sound like much but it is as great as it gets.

Consciousness of our certain failure should make us ever more careful to proceed with the greatest of care for in careless art, careless craft, lies the ruin of truth and you might as well be a politician and make some money.

1 comment:

  1. Dear zemgil3
    I enjoyed this post very much. Can truth be ruined or is it what is passed on by our poems that is ruined? Certainly what truth we attempt to hint at can be interpreted in 50 ways we didn't intend. Is that the necessity for creating the "general lie" by "craft and inspired implication" rather than the "outright and specific lie"? Great post! Lots of food for thought.