No. 19: David Mutschlecner
No. 19: David Mutschlecner
It feels the way friendship feels, like life is special (because it is relative); it works the way our bodies work in speech: the tongue taps, the lips part, the throat hums: we froth and unfurl... Poetic Faith joins Annie Dillard's Holy the Firm, Thomas Merton's No Man is an Island, St. John of the Cross's Spiritual Canticle of the Soul and the Bridegroom Christ, Clarice Lispecter's Agua Viva, Thomas Keating's Open Mind, Open Heart... It is prayerful, which is to say refulgent with humility, the sense of pure service that stems from contemplation. (read full press release)
The very notion that you are sustained at each moment by an infinite plenitude of all that is contingent means that this life that you call yours has value beyond finite conceiving; it means that every other life is subject to the same terms of wonder. This is real; this is really happening. I am here by amazing grace and marrow music. The same mind that brought you to nothingness teems with sublime community.
David Mutschlecner, Poetic Faith
See below for the complete text of Elizabeth Robinson's introduction!
The word “genius” comes, etymologically, from the Latin for “to beget” and was originally a word that meant “tutelary spirit attendant on a person.”
In Poetic Faith, David Mutschlecner becomes our genius, a tutelary spirit that guides us into the plenitude of poetry.
David Mutschlecner’s meditations demonstrate the mutual suffusion of metaphysics and poetics. His terse essays fearlessly take on the most daunting subjects: beauty, signification, revelation, presence, relationship. He asks the questions that perplex all of us, all the time, like, “How does anything exist?”
Mutschlecner’s responses to these questions take shape with disarming humility. His inquiries transpire inside the clearest language and progress with a guileless, un-ironic depth of care and commitment.
Suddenly, the reader finds herself in the midst of a universe that peels back its skin to reveal its living core.
No, that’s not quite right, for nothing in the universe that Mutschlecner studies so sensitively could ever be that atomized or that stable. He finds grace in the tug and contingency of life, for Mutschlecner sees such contingency as a site of transformation: “Poetic faith says that nothing of true value is ever lost, it is rather given new life.” The self-emptying of kenosis ceases to be sacrifice in any traditional, self-denying sense and instead becomes liberating surrender. Where an old concept threatens to stagnate, Mutschlecner’s gift is to release it into new identity and function.
Such release also brings what had formerly been isolated and dogmatized into profound relationality. Mutschlecner’s original insight into metaphor, for example, is to jump over the is/is not of conventional metaphoric construction and understand that metaphor comprises the “power of relationship through which things reveal themselves.” Poetry, like theology, comes into being through reciprocity. Revelation, then, is not a transcendence that ruptures the intimacy of thought and feeling, but an opening into what Mutschlecner calls sublime community. There, the transcendent doesn’t lift us above, but intensifies relationship, intensifies the everything of a richly interconnected meaning where meaning “is being” and thus the “mystery of vitality is the mystery of community is the mystery of commonality is the mystery of poetry.”
Here, we join together as a community of readers and makers of poetry who understand, like David Mutschlecner, that our “interconnectedness is logos itself.”
To read is to write is to discover over and over the occasion of poetic faith. These terse essays embrace that wonder; they bequeath us not merely with Mutschlecner’s acute intelligence, but also with his tenderness for made thing and maker as they interact and reciprocally shape each other.
Here is a new grammar, the syntax whose copula finally, fully conjoins as the “simple is of any of us, when it is cupped and loved, becomes the inclusive Is of all of us.”
About the Author
David Mutschlecner grew up in Bloomington, Indiana. He moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico, in his mid-twenties and attended graduate school at St. John's College, finishing with an M.A. in Liberal Arts. He has called New Mexico home for over twenty years. Read more about David and his three collections from Ahsahta Press →