Looting Versailles

Looting Versailles
My first book of poems, just released by Alabaster Leaves Publishing

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Taking Aristotle's Lead

(From an email responding to a fellow poet-friend who commented about the difficulty of finding meaning in a rather incoherent poem of mine recently)


Glad you enjoyed the poems! I've thought more recently about poetry - function, outcome of reading it, meaning... I've come to some heady conclusions that I'm not sure would be embraced by others. I think the important point is I believe art is a chance to manifest the impossible (function) and that the outcome is wonder and finally inspiration, and that inspired feeling let's the reader feel more alive, more perceptive and attuned to his surroundings, and like nothing is impossible. I think art, like other great things, can inspire us to self actualize. The reason autobiographical / nonfiction poetry seems to have meaning is because it does, but only by virtue of life itself having meaning, meaning being some sort of tangible knowledge. But what is knowledge but experience? For me, I procure knowledge from my personal experiences by reflecting and journaling, which I feel others do in lines and call it poetry. Is it not poetry? That's a matter of opinion, but I'd argue what really has power is the impossible, and that writing something possible and probable risks being everyday and boring. The impossible made manifest is never boring. 

I actually teased this idea, inspired by Aristotle, a bit further: 
1) The possible-probable art work has little effect but clear meaning, the way a hug in a poem means love and a mom hugging a daughter can be interpreted as the love between child and parent (interpreters look for the universal in the particular, but to do so from one experience-poem seems risky; my universal-ish ideas of life come from a lifetime of experience, and there are always outliers, exceptions to the rules). 
2) the possible-improbable makes great comedy (the ridiculous behavior of comedic characters in sitcoms, the stupidity of cartoon villains ie getting caught in his own trap) or horrible drama like a villain with a gun being struck by lightning letting the hero get away (the audience groans "that would never happen!") I thought humor might hinge on local customs since that is what makes certain behaviors improbable ie farting at a fancy restaurant is funny because it's so "uncivilized" and no one would willfully do it except an absurd comedic character
3) the impossible-probable is art / poetry: the witches and madness of Macbeth (people in impossible situations but the events being considerably reasonable despite that ie lady macbeths suicide), my other example is giving your loved one the moon - it's impossible but probable since lovers give large impressive gifts to each other. Another example: the Grand Canyon loving water: it's impossible for the Grand Canyon to love but reasonable if it did it'd love the Colorado river for making it.
4) impossible improbable: I could only think of children's movies and books ie toy story where toys do comedic things or cars where cars act like funny people. 

I think this is a practical way of breaking down made things with no clear function like a tool (hammer for building) aside from being their for man to experience (art). I take life / experience as my source of meaning, art as my source of inspiration (nothing in this beautiful world is impossible!). 

I hope this clarifies the "why / intention" of my work. I'll put this on my blog today if you want to direct others to it. I'd love to hear your thoughts. If you look up the Wikipedia article on "naive physics" it explains experiments where infants became habituated to an event and then would stare for a long time after a seemingly impossible version of it occurred. As if captivated by something beautiful. 


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