Monday, April 16, 2012

Poets and Lovers

Wisdom is the master concept just as a love is the master emotion. A concept is a particular clarity that is available to us, an emotion, a particular intensity. All thought seeks wisdom, we might say, just as all feeling seeks love. Whenever we think something, no matter how stupidly or obscurely, we are trying to be wise. Whenever we feel something, no matter how cruelly or violently, we are trying to love. Philosophy helps us to think. Poetry helps us to feel. Beauty is difficult. That's the basic setup.

Philosophers, accordingly, are to sages as poets are to lovers. A sage is not trying to be wise, he just is wise. A sage does not need a philosopher to help him to think. But a philosopher, also, does not need to become a sage. In fact, philosophers have a profound distrust of sages. They seem to be cheating, making it too easy. Simply to "be" wise, is not the same thing as thinking wisely, making the effort.

Poets, perhaps, feel the same distrust of lovers. To just indulge in "the obvious remedy"! That's too easy for the poet. The poet wants the emotion to be a much more delicate instrument, a more sublime difficulty, never accomplished. An art. But one can make an art, too, of the act of love. The art of motor-kineasthetic maintenance?

Does the perfect sage make a fool of the philosopher? Does the perfect lover make a fool of the poet? Is the philosopher always a failed sage? Is the poet always a failed lover? We'll leave these as questions for now.

No comments: