Winter, Future, Freedom

 
"Snowlight," Arnold, 2011

"Snowlight," Arnold, 2011

 

Dear Friends,

In the wake of what has been a profoundly emotional and revealing week (in private and public realms alike), here is a mosaic of references, a stained-glass image through which some sort of light shines. I am as yet unable to name the source of the light, so I hope the title of this post, "Winter, Future, Freedom," will suffice. I should also mention that through the following documents and sources I look to the beginning of December, which will see The Lune's publication of David Mutschlecner's revelational Poetic Faith. The sense of beauty and love that his mindful work makes available to this our holy struggling planet is no small blessing.

Begin: Mutschlecner equates the practice of poetry with "the force of love that goes out into the world." In the following video, Alan Moore (author of V for Vendetta, Watchmen, From Hell, Providence, and most recently Jerusalem) speaks to the manners in which the introspective arts shape history. It's no lecture, just a conversation that moves astutely and enjoyably with time:

 
 

There is no return to "the land before," so to speak, and yet all things past return to us in this moment and the next and the next. One question to pose is how we might inspire rather than intimidate one another, because inspiration leads to faith while intimidation leads to fear (the imperfect assumption being that faith engenders tolerance while fear fosters violence). In a review of David Mutschlecner's Enigma and Light (Ahsahta Press, 2012), David Peak's response to the poet's work touches on art's quintessential connection to life:

I felt compelled to learn more, to further explore. Whatever the highest goal of poetry might be, the idea of inspiring further learning in the reader is certainly a high-water mark. Poetry is too often private in its profundity, a whisper to oneself, or a scream in an echo chamber.

What is it about artists that empower the wonderers and discoverers in us? It's true that art can obfuscate hope and willingness as easily as it emboldens such things. But it is not the artist's job to justify or otherwise explain her makings, which must be allowed to speak for themselves as autonomous creations. Yet the line drawn between an artist and her work is as illusory as the distinction between voice and body. What's going on? Something about the very human capacity to choose, and when and where that encounters resistance. Here's a poem by Lawrence Durrell (author of the Alexandria Quartet and many other works) called "Freedom":

O Freedom which to every man entire
Presents imagined longings to his fire,
To swans the water, bees the honey-cell,
To bats the dark, to lovers loving well,
Only to the wise may you
Restricting and confining be,
All who half-delivered from themselves
Suffer your conspiracy,
Freedom, Freedom, prison of the free.

From here it feels appropriate to turn to revolutionary Chilean poet Vicente Huidobro, whose Altazor Octavio Paz called "the most radical experiment in the modern era... an epic that tells the adventures, not of a hero, but of a poet in the changing skies of language." In other words, Huidobro's was lingustic creation unhinged. From the fifth canto, translated from the Spanish (and probably a few other languages) by Eliot Winberger:

No sailor has ever found the rose of the seas
The rose that holds the memory of its ancestors
Deep within
Weary of dreaming
Weary of living in every petal
Wind that thinks of the rose of the sea
I stand waiting for you at the end of this line
I know where it's hidden
The flower born from siren sex in the moment of pleasure
When it starts to grow late beneath the sea
And one hears the waves gnashing
Under the feet of the horizon
I know I know where it's hidden

As Huidobro states with the first line of the fifth canto, "Here begins the unexplored territory | Round on account of the eyes that behold it | Profound on account of my heart." It is a thought, at once self-reflexive and self-extensive, that can be seen to encompass every single moment (within a moment within a moment) in the creation process. Here's an awe-inspiring recent painting by Indigo Deany, titled "void," which reminds of Huidobro's anti-poet anti-hero, Altazor:

And a nod to Leonard Cohen, because of the overarching relevance of solitude and the social constrictions placed upon it:

 
 

And Marquese Scott, because the beat of life goes on even (and especially) when nobody's watching. His practice and persistence have blessed us with the reminder that the human body is still very much a part of the industrial practices which seem so far removed from the "natural" environment:

 
 

If we show up to ourselves — the depth of experience that each of us harbors — we can show up more fully to the world beyond. But of course the world beyond is no garden of Eden:

All over the place, from the popular culture to the propaganda system, there is constant pressure to make people feel that they are helpless, that the only role they can have is to ratify decisions and to consume.
— Noam Chomsky

The "right to choose," according to Archibald MacLeish, has everything to do with "the right to create for oneself." The independent gesture, by virtue of its independence, empowers the whole of humanity precisely because the whole is made up of parts, themselves whole, themselves made up of parts. To the poet, this can be nothing but reassuring, for no poem ever existed that was not composed letter by letter, unit by unit. The very mystery of the process is the affirmation of life:

My paintings are not about what is seen. They are about what is known forever in the mind.
— Agnes Martin