Looting Versailles

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

Friday, November 20, 2015

Simplified Way of Seeing (If I may) Seeing

It seems to me, as a fan of comedy and literature (and music, and art in general), and frequent maker of things humorous and beautiful, that there's a simple way of seeing those creative endeavors not unlike Aristotle's definition in "Poetics":

On the vast - possibly infinite - spectrum of ways one can see or know a thing, there exists 1) the ridiculous, stupid, funny, and 2) the beautiful, exalted, new, unexpected or impossible. When experiencing POV 1 we laugh, when experiencing POV 2, we're baffled, astonished, amazed, captivated -- when experienced for a long time, you may cry, the same way laughing a long time can have the same effect.

Also in that spectrum is the everyday, common, cliche, literal - these are neither funny nor awe-inspiring. They reside in the majority of us, probably all of us - that's why the people who can help everyone else SEE / KNOW what else is possible are themselves exalted and known, and by nature, a rare breed.

These ways of seeing or knowing have to be made artificially usually - a thing in itself is rarely funny or awe-inspiring, you have to MAKE THEM so. (National Geographic is a great way of seeing how it does not have to be made if one views their table of contents, the subject matter; the writing and photography on the other hand are both supremely Beautifully-Made renderings of said subject matter. And the subject matter is beautiful-in-itself (unexpected, new) by virtue of Nat Geo being read predominantly in America by middle class white adults, so that all the exotic people and locales are unfamiliar, incapable of being everyday to that audience.) One can even UNDO the funny-making or awe-inspiring changes by an artist by simply stating "I'm offended by that joke," "too soon," or "people don't talk that way," "turtles don't have wings." These people are jerks with bad taste and intolerably puny intellects. Or they have ulterior motives, like appearing smart or smarter than the artist making them feel stupid, or jealousy of the attention the successful artist is getting before them.

A couple of things are funny by themselves - dicks, farts, malapropisms sometimes; a couple of things are awe-inspiring or beautiful by themselves - autumn, love, healthy human bodies, death.

Political poetry is an oxymoron: the poem is transformative in nature, but a political statement requires taking a well-defined, already well-known and firmly established POV. Poems and art establish one-of-a-kind, novel, previously non-existent POVs; Comedy the POV of making something ridiculous - politics the POV of a contemporary party or ideology.

Here's a rough image of the spectrum of Ways of Seeing:

Ridiculous <-----------Common, Everyday, Cliche-----------> Magnificent, Splendid, Gorgeous, Mysterious, New

Think of it as a Sphere with Common in the Core (nothing to do with Common Core) and spokes from that hub flying out to infinite Artistic (New) possibilities and infinite (Ridiculous, humorous) possibilities. Try to do that in FOUR dimensions. Just kidding...

What artists and comedians show you is that a Thing can be seen a million ways, known a million ways; they expose the narrow-minded viewpoints of Politicians and their parties, and that goes for BOTH sides of the aisle. They expose the truth: That no political party is sole-possessor of Truth and Morality, and by their very claim to be that sole-possessor they are liars in the same way artists and comedians are, only they are lying earnestly, sincerely. This condition of earnest or genuine or sincere lying (so inadvertent fibbing) strikes me as more grievous, or at least less desirable for myself; somewhat pathetic, puerile. An individual chooses to see things one way, or simply does not have the mind to see it otherwise, or the point of view is practical; that is personality, what Eliot described escaping from in his seminal essay "Tradition and the Individual Talent." That's why Shelley says poetry helps us empathize or sympathize, because it teaches the multitudes of seeing that Whitman professed to possessing (I contradict myself, so be it).

I suspect poetry (maybe art in general) would have a larger audience (not to comedy's level, but closer) if it were seen more in this light: not as Truth, but as "making fun of things," only instead of "fun," "beautiful."  MAKING BEAUTY OF THINGS. (The "turn" in verse, the "make" of poiesis, is to TURN SOMETHING INTO A BEAUTIFUL THING, MAKE a thing beautiful - NOT, as Plato would have it, MAKE a representation of a THING ALREADY BEAUTIFUL. That IS - as Plato said - just a rip-off, a copy. MAKE BEAUTY out of (from) it, NOT re-make a beautiful-it.

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