Thursday, February 28, 2019

It is said that marriage is an unreliable method for the production of human happiness. But it must also be said that it is hard to imagine a truly unhappy human being in a truly happy marriage. Now, half of all marriages are said to end in divorce. Let us grant the cynics that only half of all the marriages that last are truly happy ones. That still leaves us with hundreds of millions of individuals who we cannot really imagine are truly unhappy. Does that not, I ask you, in itself justify the entire institution?

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

These are sketches,
of thoughts,
of feelings,
of the images
they occasion.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

If the sociologists
would stop leaning on
our hearts,

if the psychologists
would stop prying up
our souls,

our poets
could work again and lift
our spirits.

Outrage does to the heart what
insight does to the mind.

The mob overwhelms the institution—
an intuition, undermined in a flash.

But emotions keep our feelings tight.
Concepts keep our thinking clear.

May we extricate ourselves
from this history,
and implicate these things
in the world.

Saturday, February 23, 2019

In ordinary life,
when expressing your thoughts,
be honest;
when expressing your feelings,
be decent.

In your science,
strive for truth, and
in your politics,
strive for justice.

Your poetry, however,
can take some license.
And your philosophy?
Let them howl.

Friday, February 22, 2019

Structure is to existence
as texture to inspiration.

Standing is to space
as breathing to time.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

The profundity of philosophy
is covered by its judicious obscurity.

The pretensions of poetry
are supported by its sublime violence.

"One thinks that one is tracing the outline of the thing's nature over and over again, and one is merely tracing round the frame through which we look at it." (Wittgenstein, PI§114)

The material fact
of social acts,
the structure under
the texture.

A concept,
an emotion.
A thought
a feeling.

The calm mind,
and a heartbeat:
skull and bones,
flesh and blood.

Monday, February 18, 2019

Philosophy barely
makes sense.
A poem only just
moves you.

Therein lies
their precision:
their clarity,
their intensity.


When you have come to understand a philosophical proposition immediately, it has ceased to be philosophical for you. It has become a statement of science, a piece of knowledge. Likewise when a poem seizes you completely and forces your obedience, it is no longer a poem. It has become a policy, a locus of power. Philosophers and poets do, in fact, sometimes succumb to the temptation to seek the authority of scientists and politicians. Alternatively, they may hone a contradiction or venture a seduction, they may traffic in paradoxes or cavort with paramours. They become sages and lovers. None of this is art.

The imprecision of our
emotional lives
is not made necessary
by emotions themselves
but is made possible
by life as it is,
imprecise, all around us.

Saturday, February 16, 2019

The essential thing in the poet,
said Ezra Pound,
is that he build us his world.

The correct method in philosophy,
said Ludwig Wittgenstein,
is to say only what can be said.

To write a poem about a song,
to philosophize about a painting—
is it our envy of the noisier, showier
artist, one with an actual public,
that moves us to annotate their work?

Once the culture has already committed
itself to a melody or an image,
we seize upon its intensity, its clarity
and offer our "refinement", as if
the artist's aim was just to entertain.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Let us not repeal
the rain just yet.
It has fallen for days
and I suspect
it has some purpose.

The scientist relates to nature through his method,
with which he holds his desire at a distance.

The politician relates to culture through his mandate,
with which he suspends our disbelief.

The artist relates to his nature and his culture
through suffering—through the distance between
his beliefs and his desires.

Lacking a method, the philosopher (an artist)
must suffer his detachment from desire.
Lacking a mandate, the poet
must suffer his detachment from belief.

The scientist need not suffer his detachment.
He has his apparatus. The politician need not suffer
his detachment. He has his machine.

Philosophers and poets are artists.
Unprepared. Without machination.
Only their suffering to represent them.

Monday, February 11, 2019

There may be some philosophy,
some poetry, in these lines.

But wisdom isn't like this.
Love is not like them.

There is no bone to break,
no flesh here to cut.

These frictionless planes
are only models of pain.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

I am pulled towards the "nothing",
but always find someone there.
I throw myself at "no one",
and something blocks my way.
I can escape existence
but only by way of inspiration;
I can cease to be only in becoming.

Philosophy is more than logic
as poetry is more than pathos.

Not pure reason but its application
in thinking the object of knowledge.

Not raw passion but its implications
for feeling the subject of power.

Science and ordinary sense deliver
the material basis of philosophy.

Politics and baser motives define
the social boundary of poetry.

The artist articulates experience,
thinks the object, feels the subject.

Logic: a frame
of language.
Pathos: a shift.

The structure of space,
in beams; and, in pulses,
the texture of time.

So the heart pounds
in the body
and the mind strains.

The culture,
its desires,
shapes the world
around you,
its places and things.

Call it experience.

Its people, its rhythm,
within you,
drives your history
your beliefs,
your nature.

Tuesday, February 05, 2019

Neither poetry
nor philosophy
can be a merely
formal exercise.

A philosophy must
express belief,
a poem must
express desire.

The formality
of the presentation
of concepts and
emotions, is not

We need a thought,
a feeling, i.e.,
some contentment.

Sunday, February 03, 2019

"This" and "these",
remember, are
within the universe
of the poem.

If I could speak in plain language
with my friends
and the women I have touched,
would I write these poems?

What you bring about
is the not the whole reason
I want you here. Leaves
have been falling for days
and these aren't why
I've been thinking of you.
There is a view, at night,
through my window,
on the neighborhood below—
the lights in the windows
when everyone's still up.
I think of them as far away,
but you, in that other city,
who have seen these lights,
from that same window,
are very close. I am here.

A poem takes
a sort of largese
with time.

Philosophy opens
a clearing,
a generosity of sorts
with space.

Saturday, February 02, 2019

The soul suffers
the predicament
of the flesh
between the seeing
and the doing.

Friday, February 01, 2019

The state of nature
conceptual order.

Cultural change
emotional discomfort.