Saturday, December 29, 2018

"The arts," said Ezra Pound, "provide data for ethics." It would have been more precise to say "capta". The arts show us how we are "taken" with experience. They do not merely enthrall. They show us how we are enthralled. This is what it means when a poet tells us "how he feels". Not, you will notice, what he feels, or even who he is, but how the feeling gets done. How it feels to be governed. What Wyndham Lewis called "the art of being ruled".

Thursday, December 27, 2018

A poem arranges feelings
to present an emotion.

Philosophy arranges thoughts
to present a concept.

To make you think and feel
they evoke images.

The thoughts and feelings,
the images, are not

the point. They're there
only to clarify

the concept, to intensify
the emotion.

The feelings themselves
are harmless.

The thoughts as such
are trivial.

They're all in your mind
and heart. Imaginary.


It must be added that my poems aren't really poems. What feelings are arranged? What images are evoked? They look superficially like poems, but only because it keeps things orderly. Nor is what is happening here more than a shadow of philosophy. It's merely a thought of thinking, a concept of concepts. You, dear reader, are doing all the work. You have to imagine it. Poets and philosophers (real ones) make you better at it.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Politicians make the rules
that govern us, they decide
which acts are just,
how they're to be done,
and who may do them.

Poets write emotions
down, as paradigms
for the expression of desire,
studies in the art
of being ruled.

Scientists find the laws
that govern things, discover
which facts are true,
how to see them,
and what you're seeing.

Philosophers write concepts
down, as paradigms
for the expression of belief,
studies in the art
of being wrong.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Freedom is to desire what
discipline is to belief.

All desire desires to be free;
all belief believes in learning.

(Explication here.)

Monday, December 17, 2018

Hard times
for an honest man.
Empty spaces
for a decent one.

Art recovers the beauty that remains between the truth and the justice we have accomplished. Another way to put it: art seeks happiness in the space between our honesty and our decency. That is why art is always being accused of indecency and dishonesty.

(More here.)

"Suicide is a temporary solution ... The real, interesting challenge is to solve the problem within the context of remaining alive." (Woody Allen, cf. Leonard Cohen.)

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 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.