04 October 2005

The surrender of choice

Bad Librarian reads Whitman, Lao Tzu, and Rilke...
It cultivated a stillness that, to me, is a large part of the transformative nature of poetry and one of the great pleasures of reading, or hearing it.
...and rages against the "May Pole of Linguistic Doom":
I don't mean to incessantly harp on the common idiom, because I am amused by a stupid cliché as much as the next guy (for comedic purposes, gratuitous group-think is oh-so-amusing and well satiates my heightened sense of elitist scorn). It's the surrender of choice that really scares me about other people's speech. By relying on lingo and tired jargon, meaning is abdicated and docile formulaic speech becomes the norm. By compartmentalizing and packaging words into easy-to-use metaphors, language is stripped of emotional value and becomes rote noise without human connection, all done for the sake of some idiotic sense of "normalcy". By creating a language-based lowest common denominator (all of us saying the same stupid shit) we cheapen our most profound means of communication. By doing so, we in turn, cheapen ourselves.

Poetry on the other hand, connects us to the world, enlivening our relationships and personal encounters with its music and magic. Poets are the protectors of the artful word and by staying with them, and by reading their work, we show our love and appreciation for what they do and what they stand for: language as art, art as divinity. I make my own language with these men and women, and with language, I am freed. With language I can think and say what I please, exactly as it is and without dilution. I am unbound from the constraints common culture places unconsciously within me. With language, I can make the world as it truly is, and so can all of you. Just ask Whitman:

Have you reckon'd a thousand acres much? have you reckon'd / the earth much? / Have you practis'd so long to learn to read? / Have you felt so proud to get at the meaning of poems?

Stop this day and night with me and you shall possess the / origin of all poems / You shall possess the good of the earth and sun, (there are / millions of suns left,) / You shall no longer take things at second or third hand, nor / look through the eyes of the dead, nor feed on the / specters in books / You shall not look through my eyes either, nor take things / from me / You shall listen to all sides and filter them from your self.
Don't worry. I'm sure that before long you'll be able to say you've "joined the elemental verbs and set the noun and dash of consciousness together jumping with sensation of Pater Omnipotens Aeterna Deus / to recreate the syntax and measure of poor human prose".


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