Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Wittgenstein compared the depth of philosophy with the depth of a grammatical joke.

Cummings used burlesque as a paradigm for poetry. "Would you hit a woman with a child?" He'd ask. "No, I'd hit her with a brick." He said he was "abnormally fond of the precision which creates movement."

Now, stillness is to philosophy what movement is to poetry. Both, however, are fond of precision.

The philosopher stills the mind to reach a very precise depth. The poet moves the heart...

What is to poetry as depth, to philosophy?

Let's think it through. Depth is a spatial category. And space is to philosophy as time, to poetry. Philosophical language shows us precisely where we are, gives us the locale. Poetic language sets the tempo, lays down precisely when it is. What is to time as depth is to space?

The poet moves the heart
precisely to a beat.

In the stillness
of philosophy
the
heart
sinks.

(The philosopher
stills the mind
to a precise depth.)

The mind scans
the motion
of the poem.

Now brace yourself for the etymological punchline: 'scansion (n.), 1670s, "action of marking off of verse in metric feet," from Late Latin scansionem (nominative scansio), in classical Latin, "act of climbing," noun of action from past participle stem of scandere "to climb" (see scan (v.)). From 1650s in English in literal sense of "action of climbing up.'

Wittgenstein's ladder is a poem.

Friday, December 07, 2018

In poetry (specifically, love poetry), escape vivacity is the minimum life force needed for a free woman to escape from the "mysterious carriage" of a man's body that conceals the defects of his mind.

Tuesday, December 04, 2018

Indecency interrupts
our institutions, as
dishonesty undermines
our intuitions, but

justice sometimes demands
a disruption of order.
Truth sometimes requires
we overturn the doctrine.

Saturday, December 01, 2018

Emotions are
the fine grain
of social relations,
moral fibers,
the texture of time.

Concepts are
the grid lines
of material position,
causal nexuses,
the structure of space.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

The singer and
his song,

the joiner and his
wooden box.

The writer
and his pain:

his misery
his insufferable

resentment
of the craft.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Think of the problem
as one of

satisfying your desires
but
challenging your beliefs.

Concepts establish the thing
in experience, construct the object
of knowledge. They provide

the structure of understanding,
the appearance of contingency.

Emotions situate the person
in experience, fashion the subject
of power. They afford us

the texture of obedience,
the surface of resistance.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

The poet imagines
an ideal history
of love and freedom.

The philosopher imagines
the real world
of wisdom and limits.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

An ideal world
is as imaginary
as the real history.

Philosophy struggles against
the reification of essence
as poetry struggles against
the emergence of personality.

In the failures of philosophy
the sciences find their objects.
In the failures of poetry
the polity rules its subjects.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Is all pain
a difficulty
in breathing?

Is the dark
merely hard to
stand in?

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Thus, the light,
the air:

an opening in space,
a breach in time,

a fleeting thought,
a feeling, merely.

But bring the concept,
the emotion,

to prop it up,
to hold it open.

The dust in the beam,
the cool draft,

the distant voices
of the searchers.

They have another day
to find you now.

Darkness is to the mind
as pain to the heart.

All this obfuscation and
all this violence require

concepts to steady us,
emotions to let us breathe.

Darkness and pain are real.
So is the light, the air.

Friday, November 16, 2018

When it is dark,
I think of your eyes.

I feel your hands
where it hurts.

Who is to blame
for believing in things

that people desire?
What is at stake?

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

"Logic should be the theory of science." (Bolzano)
Pathos is the practice of politics.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

It was a matter of some delicacy.
He wanted to smash the system
without hurting anyone.

Poem Ending with a Line from Rilke

The scholar teaches.

The reader is allowed to think
that our problem is ignorance.
"If only we had known this sooner,
we wouldn't be in this mess."

The scholar accepts our thanks.

Poets and philosophers don't teach,
they entreat, they instruct.
"Look in your heart, man! For the
love of God, make up your mind!"

The reader is on his own.

The poet doesn't make you feel
but shows you how to do it better.
The philosopher doesn't make you
think, but shows you what it is.

The scholar is kind and gentle.

"There's nothing you could have
done. You didn't know. It is
complicated and there is no time."
Scholars teach and leave us be.

Poets and philosophers are cruel.

"Look around you! Don't you see?
Get a hold of yourself! Why do you
live to say this thing's to do?"
They point and scold. They laugh.

Scholars assert and deny.

They tell us what is so and
offer proof. Always assuring us
it took their whole intelligence,
an entire life, to understand.

Philosopher just pass remarks,
and poets turn a phrase,

all allusion and innuendo,
all allegation and insinuation.
You know what you have done.
You remember what you've seen.

"You must change your life."

Thursday, November 08, 2018

Why is there something
rather than nothing?
Consider the options.

If the mind and heart
were perfectly balanced
there'd be nothing.

If the mind were always still
and the heart, ever steady,
there'd be nothing.

But stir the mind, friends;
make the heart jump. Now,
that is something.

Some mornings, the fog
is so thick
one wants to call the weather company
and ask them
when service will be restored.

The poet must invoke
the things that make us feel
and make us feel them better.

The philosopher must recall
the people who make us think
and make us think better of them.

Wednesday, November 07, 2018

Precise concepts
afford us
clear thoughts.

Precise emotions
afford us
intense feelings.

The poet seeks
the aspect of things
that affords us
pleasure. This beauty
too, of course,
must bear our pain.

In philosophy, beauty
grants us certainty.
People apprehend it
but only, understand,
where doubt is found
and borne as well.

The poet tells you how
not what
he feels.

The philosopher doesn't tell you what
he thinks
but how.

Tuesday, November 06, 2018

From the poet's point of view
the social sciences
obscure the subject
they desire to know

while their belief in masters
violate the object
of a material politics
in the grip of philosophy.

Philosophers see all of this
as a natural consequence
of subjective ambiguity
and the ignorance of feeling

while the power of thought
determines the objective
cultural implications of
what poetry does.

Friday, November 02, 2018

1

This is one tree
that is the case.

This tree is a singular
fact, not a thing.

This tree is determined
by a fact, and by its being
one fact.

For the singularity of a fact
determines
what it is a case of
and also
what it's not a case of.

This fact in logical space
is a tree.

This tree identifies a fact.

Anything else (this table,
for example) can be the case
or not the case
while this (the tree)
remains the same.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Our passions
stir the mind
as our reasons
break the heart.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Be honest when
you express your thoughts, but,
when you express your feelings,
please, be decent.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Is a melody
a motor image,
like a picture is
a sensory image?

Is the myth
to the song
like logic
to the story?

Is the rhythm
of time
like the fabric
of space?

The beat
in the music,
the view
of the scene.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Do not invest all your faith
in science, nor all our hope
in politics. Use your imagination.

Make yourself a picture of
the facts. Form an image of
the act. Do it yourself.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Sometimes your faith
must be stronger
than the evidence.

Sometimes your hope
must be greater
than their promises.