Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Forging our Feathers out of Language (12.15.11)

This time I'm in a hurry, and I really mean it. Need to leave for work earlier than usual today. Let's finish up with The Star before the Thanksgiving weekend, shall we? And then no more posting until Monday. Unless the mood strikes.

The next major theme discussed by UF is poetry. As he puts it, "One cannot pass by poetry if one attaches value to tradition. The whole Bible breathes poetry -- epic, lyric and dramatic..." Poetry is one of the best examples of a quintessentially human mode which defies the reductionistic schemes of the scientistic cretins. To try to capture poetry with materialism is to kill it -- like mounting a butterfly on your wall. The reason is that poetry is to language as life is to matter or mind is to life. A "scientistic poet" is a contradiction in terms.

Far from being some sort of superfluous or stupid human trick, poetry is essential for understanding the world. Only our modern materialistic prejudice makes us believe otherwise, for poetry "gives wings to imagination, and without winged imagination... no progress is possible." But this cannot be the undisciplined imagination that seeks only egoic (at best!) self-indulgence and self-aggrandizement -- you know, all those lousy little poets tryin' to sound like Charlie Manson -- but "an imagination that loves truth" and is in conformity with the hyperdimensional Real.

This is why poetry "is not simply a matter of taste, but rather one of fertility (or sterility) of the spirit. Without a poetic vein there can be no access to the life of the Hermetic [i.e., esoteric] tradition." This, by the way, is how you can tell that a Deepak Chopra (among countless others) is not a Man of Spirit, since his prose is so ugly and clumsy (not to mention, completely saturated), incapable of carrying, let alone transmitting, the "truth" he imagines he has found. It reminds me of a review I once read of Chuck Berry's autobiography. The reviewer said that Berry's prose reminded him of the sound of a tool box crashing against the garage floor.

But real poetry defies the law of gravity, and represents "the union of the upper waters and the lower waters on the second day of creation." The poet operates at "the point at which the separated waters meet" and converge, which facilitates a "flow" between them. Surrealism meets at the other end -- where the lower waters of the unconscious meet with the ego to produce mostly nightmares.

Being that nothing human should be alien to us, surrealism (which is really subrealism) has its place, but real overmental poetry uses language to bring down something of what cannot be expressed in words. You can tell when this is occurring, because such poetry has a real power, light, and force. It is written with a combination of "warm human blood" and the "luminous blood of heaven." Real poets cast a bright bloodlight over the mindscape to reveal things that would otherwise go unrecognosed.

It it interesting to me that two of my favorite teachers, Frithjof Schuon and Sri Aurobindo, relied solely on poetry in their later years. In fact, Aurobindo considered himself primarily to be a poet. As he wrote, "the poet's eyes perpetually go behind the thing visible to the thing essential, so that the symbol and significance are always in a state of interfusion." In other words, poetry directly transmits something of which it is attempting to describe with words. To get lost in the words can obscure that to which they are pointing, which infuses their very "substance." One has to let oneself go and allow the words to lift one up to the realm from which they are a descent.

The loftiest form of this would be the mantra, which is a sort of combination of prayer and poetry. It represents "a highest intensity of rhythmic movement, a highest intensity of interwoven verbal form and thought-substance, of style, and a highest intensity of the soul's vision of truth" (Aurobindo). Each of the three must be present: rhythm, thought substance given verbal form, and the soul's vision of truth. The Psalms of David are an example of (Judeo) Christian mantra.

Why rhythm? Because this gives us "something as near to wordless music as word-music can get" (Aurobindo), which in turn allows the poem to transmit something of the Life, Feeling, and Intelligence that transcends us. It helps us to exchange the jagged rhythms of the herebelow for the more stately and regular rhythms of eternity, which are analogous to the procession of the seasons or alternation of night and day.

Poetry again transforms language from the closed circle to the open spiral. Note that deconstruction does this as well, but in that case, it is a death spiral that goes straight down into the infrahuman mud of the tenured. It is a result of the natural desire of the soul to break free of language, but in the absence of recognition of the Divine hierarchy. Therefore, it is like the exchange of one hell for a worse one. At least the materialistic hell of our scientistic jester is boring, predictable, and "safe" (for the ego).

In fact, UF feels that the task of the future is to give science poetic wings, in the manner attempted by Teilhard de Chardin. This is surely what Bob attempted in his own lila playbook. To appreciate the book, you have to oppreciate what he was endeavoring to do, which is simply to allow science to once again soar with the human spirit, up where it belongs, instead of being a kind of ball and chain that binds us to the lowest realm of reality, down where it bewrong. Which is ironic, since the ball and chain were created by man's spirit.

Truly, we can forge our fetters out of language, which results in the flightless turkey of materialism. Or, we may forge our feathers word by Word to achieve vertical liftoff.

Clearly, the song of existence changed chords with the appearance of Life, but our scientistic soloists largely continue to drone on in the key of matter. However, it is no longer adequate to be just a materialistic banjo-picker sitting barefoot on a little bridge of dogma; rather, one must have at least a nodding acquaintance with a few other instruments in order to play the cosmic suite....

The celestial score lends itself to diverse interpretations, but surely one of them cannot be "music does not exist." For at the end of the day, we are each a unique and unrepeatable melody that can, if we only pay close enough attention to the polyphonic score that surrounds and abides within us, harmonize existence in our own beautiful way, and thereby hear the vespered strains of the "song supreme."
--One Cosmos Under God: The Unification of Matter, Life, Mind, and Spirit

27 Comments:

Blogger mushroom said...

I've never read his prose, and, from what I know about him, the assessment is probably correct. But Chuck Berry was America's Poet Laureate back in the day.

11/26/2008 08:50:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Yes, but it's a long fall from then to placing cameras in women's toilets....

11/26/2008 08:53:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Written poetry requires a receptive reader who can make use of it.

Survivors of "wackedemia" at least get some tutoring in Whitman, Shelley, Keats, Browning, et al, but what about the unschooled? They have no chance.

Or, is the main consumption of divine effusion located elsewhere now? Where is the poetry of the twenty-something set?

It is largely set to music; pop songs of this often have astonishing spiritual content.

For example, listen to John Mayer's "Say what you need to Say". It is a Yogic poem of sorts.

"Take your so called problems and put them in quotations"

Sagacity from a youngster...

The true poetic instinct is still current in our youth but seems to me to rely heavily on a musical assist; non-musical poetry such as was so huge in the last 500 years is slowing to a trickle in the pipeline and losing influence.

Combine words, music, and imagery and you have the rock video, the poetic transmission of choice for these times. And, an effective medium in my view.

The Koffee Kritic

11/26/2008 09:40:00 AM  
Blogger mushroom said...

KK, haven't heard much of Mayer, but some NIN is good. I've heard nothing in recent pop music to surpass Leonard Cohen.

11/26/2008 10:12:00 AM  
Blogger QP said...

I died from minerality and became vegetable;
And from vegetativeness I died and became animal.
I died from animality and became man.
Then why fear disappearance through death?
Next time I shall die
Bringing forth wings and feathers like angels;
After that, soaring higher than angels -
What you cannot imagine,
I shall be that.


~ Rumi

11/26/2008 10:17:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Did you see the Leonard Cohen posted in Vanderleun's sidebar? Great.

11/26/2008 10:18:00 AM  
Blogger Robin Starfish said...

Van in his prime. How's anyone 'sposed to follow that?

11/26/2008 10:23:00 AM  
Blogger mushroom said...

No I hadn't. Thank you. Our good buddy, QP had posted the last stanza a couple of days ago. That's probably why he was on my mind.

One of my Cohen favorites is "Everybody Knows". It's like an anthem to cynical disillusionment, except that, seeing behind the alleged illusion, he says it's still more real than the options.

Everybody knows that the boat is leaking
Everybody knows that the captain lied
Everybody got this broken feeling
Like their father or their dog just died

Everybody talking to their pockets
Everybody wants a box of chocolates
And a long stem rose
Everybody knows

Then he winds up with:

And everybody knows that youre in trouble
Everybody knows what you've been through
From the bloody cross on top of calvary
To the beach of malibu
Everybody knows its coming apart
Take one last look at this sacred heart
Before it blows
And everybody knows

11/26/2008 10:37:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

"Far from being some sort of superfluous or stupid human trick, poetry is essential for understanding the world. Only our modern materialistic prejudice makes us believe otherwise, for poetry "gives wings to imagination, and without winged imagination... no progress is possible." But this cannot be the undisciplined imagination that seeks only egoic (at best!) self-indulgence and self-aggrandizement -- you know, all those lousy little poets tryin' to sound like Charlie Manson -- but "an imagination that loves truth" and is in conformity with the hyperdimensional Real. "

O Man, you be playing my tune!

11/26/2008 11:55:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

"But real poetry defies the law of gravity, and represents "the union of the upper waters and the lower waters on the second say of creation." The poet operates at "the point at which the separated waters meet" and converge, which facilitates a "flow" between them. Surrealism meets at the other end -- where the lower waters of the unconscious meet with the ego to produce mostly nightmares. "

O, I like that. I think Poetry is less a product of imagination, than its very image, Poetry is a verbal sculpture of Imagination in the process of imagining, a strumming of the conceptual chords of consciousness... and a finger chart for you the alert reader to play along with, though as any reader of Mel Bay knows... the finger chart is never exactly right, but it's enough for you to play along and improvise with... but enough, I'm just waxing.

11/26/2008 12:06:00 PM  
Blogger Gandalin said...

Wouldn't the Psalms of David be rather a Jewish Mantra? :-)

11/26/2008 12:07:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

"Truly, we can forge our fetters out of language, which results in the flightless turkey of materialism. Or, we may forge our feathers word by Word to achieve vertical liftoff."

Zoom!

11/26/2008 12:09:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Gandalin:

Good catch. Duly noted. Dylan and Cohen are not the only Jewish poets.

11/26/2008 12:14:00 PM  
Blogger walt said...

I noticed that another of your favorites, St. Theophan, also placed a high value on poetry:

" If we go for a walk we select the place just because it is beautiful. Higher than all this is the delight given by painting, sculpture, instrumental music and song. Higher still is the enjoyment of poetry."

And you are something of a poet yourownself, Bob. The "poetry" you post each morning is very stimulating and supportive for us, and your dedication to this project always impresses. One Cosmos has been a real blessing, for which I'm very thankful. Hope you and your family have a fine holiday!

11/26/2008 12:34:00 PM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

Well, they're also Christian, Gandalin. Same words: different interpretation.

11/26/2008 12:51:00 PM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

Also, I guess it's worth noting, there is immense (boundless, almost) volumes of Christian poetry to be found in the liturgical tradition.

These typically take the forms of a 'kontakion', 'apolytikion', 'troparion', 'theotokion', and so forth. The kontakion used to be a long poem that was rolled around an oar (it were so big!) apolytikion is a dismissal hymn, a troparion is a theme, and a theotokian is a hymn relating to the Mother of God. These are (as Bob said) actually mantras, as they take the form of a prayer in addition to being sung and rhythmic:

O Father Anthony, you imitated the zealous Elijah.
You followed the straight paths of the Baptist and became a desert dweller.
By prayer you confirmed the universe.
Wherefore, intercede with Christ our God to save our souls.


I like them better than usual prayers to saints, as they are more poetic and less strictly devotional.

11/26/2008 01:01:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had a number of disrespectful and contentious things to say, but I'll hold off.

Even a crusty old troll can see the merit of poetry; even he'll concede Christian poetry has a certain arcane force that this troll doesn't fully understand.

Off all phenomenon, poetry comes the closest to convincincing there is Something there.

I should not, but do, allow a sliver of doubt to insinuate itself into my scientistic world-view when I confront something like Byron; but, I cannot allow my metaphysic to fall.

If God is real then I'm in a world of trouble.

11/26/2008 01:25:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I used to read LGF. As others have noted Charles Johnson has taken it upon himself to single-handedy wage jihad against Christians (and other believers) via a non-stop barrage of extremely shallow sometimes offensive hit-pieces against "creationism".

I know what genuine leftists are.

I know what humble God-fearing conservatives are.

What category for people like that, who espouse some conservative values (mostly having to do with countering terrorism, it seems) while evincing a deep hostility toward religion, God, etc?

Are they allies?

For that matter, am I more closely aligned with the typical (non-jihadist) Muslim, or the typical American hard leftist? My gut tells me I have more in common with the Muslim, at least when it comes to many of the real-world Muslims I've met. The hard leftists I've met leave me feeling like I've seen some sort of vampire or something...

Too bad about Charles though. Why he chose to push this and alienate so many people is beyond me. His soapbox, I guess.

11/26/2008 01:47:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Cooncur. I am infinitely closer in spirit to the Sufi than to the insufirable Charles.

11/26/2008 01:50:00 PM  
Blogger Dougman said...

It looks as though Bob is plugged in to the Ab-original koons.

6969
quwn
koon
a primitive root; to strike a musical note, i.e. chant or wail (at a funeral):--lament, mourning woman
.

(http://www.htmlbible.com/sacrednamebiblecom/
kjvstrongs/CONHEB696.htm#S6969)

R.I.P. Lizards

11/26/2008 03:35:00 PM  
Blogger Dougman said...

Kooneiform
Giving the tards a wedgie

11/26/2008 03:42:00 PM  
Blogger Magnus Itland said...

I believe that to a baby, all language is poetry. A word could mean a thousand things or none at all. The idea that words mean things and can be "locked" comes later.

11/26/2008 05:24:00 PM  
Blogger Zoltan said...

The Psalms (Poems) of David (and others) are Hebrew and from there Christian.

"Jewish" is Hasmonean and following, at a credulous stretch.

Most accurately, "Jewish" is post-Jamnia and, from there and before, Christian.

11/26/2008 06:31:00 PM  
Anonymous jwm said...

nonym at 1:25
Beware then, the works of this renegade. He juggles the sacred and sensuous together until one sphere blends right into the other. A tough nut to crack. Worth the effort.

JWM

11/26/2008 07:09:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

JWM, good find there!

Here's another from the forgotten groove yard at the same site, A DIALOGUE BETWEEN THE RESOLVED
SOUL AND CREATED PLEASURE.

11/26/2008 08:03:00 PM  
Anonymous austracoon said...

"To try to capture poetry with materialism is to kill it -- like mounting a butterfly on your wall."

1 Cor 1:25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

11/26/2008 11:33:00 PM  
Blogger Gandalin said...

Zoltan, if you're going to take that line, I might as well say that "Christianity" ended when the Jerusalem Church was liquidated by the Romans, who replaced it with a syncretic mystery cargo cult.

11/28/2008 05:31:00 AM  

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