Native to the Mind
The title of this letter is a phrase that leapt out at me from Joseph Campbell's The Inner Reaches of Outer Space: Metaphor as Myth and as Religion (1986). It appears in the context of a section called "Myth and the Body," a discussion at the crossroads of physics and spirituality via human morphology, via the struggle to transcend war gods and patriarchic didacticism and the false separation of our species from this planet. I have slightly abridged the paragraph in which the phrase appears and now share the breathing idea with you:
"The new mythology is already implicit among us as knowledge, a priori, native to the mind. Its images, recognized with rapture as radiant of that greatness which is of all things, will be derived from contemporary life, thought and experience anywhere and everywhere, and the moral order to the support of which these images will arise shall be of all humankind."
It feels like we are quick to supplant—however casually, however brutally—all things native. And I am wary of discussing the tragedy, out of a fear that I will somehow perpetuate the disaster. How to listen while speaking? How to stay on the beam of one's life? How to see, how to work, how to give?
I am wondering about the idea of saying more about things—issues, events, feelings—and about how seemingly insatiable the internet is. I allow myself to hope for something beyond (or between) the tug and pull of more or less, the switch and sway of pixels and images. Bearing this in mind, I wonder about language, the way that the news cycle, at least, calls longer pieces of writing "in-depth." Do we go with it all to the end? What does the end feel like? Do we peruse, graze for facts? Do levitate in love? What remains in us? Are we awake?
I wonder about "moreness" in the context of this very letter, because I do not want to add information to your life but to present poetry, music-as-meaning, something for the heart and mind alike to go on, to go with, to carry, to hold, to feel. (That is, of course, what THE LUNE aspires to: holding poetry in a space whereby it can be experienced as fully as possible.) Less self-consciously, I wonder about "moreness" in the context of language itself, because when I have a particularly deep reading experience, it tends to give me pause: gives me back to my body where it is (where I am, ostensibly), and the experience that I am having, which is so simple it looks like nothing: sitting, looking, breathing. The eyes approach a field of basic, repetitious symbols (dark against light: lettering), thereby enlivening correlative auditory events (sound against silence: words) whose primary function, it seems, is the population of a veritable universe behind the eyes, a universe somehow responsible for the body proper. Responsible? Who??
As Joseph Campbell and myriad thinkers before and after him have suggested, to be confronted with the vastness of the cosmos is to be confronted with the vastness of the human experience (and vice versa). Is the heartbeat not an echo? Is proliferation our only option? To a certain extent, yes—life feeds on life in order to live. But by some coordinating grace we have the faculty—if not always the workable opportunity—to seriously contemplate ourselves.
The bottom line, for me, is that poets abide the notion of less—the a priori, the apophatic, the silence, the space—in constructing meaning from this brutal and beautiful reality we share. Poets work from spaces of uncertainty, from so-called unconsciousness in spite of criticism and shaming and violence and brutality. For this they have been called idlers, loafers, queer, irresponsible, lame, loopy, weak, lost—fearful responses to a fearless undertaking. Each of us carries the full weight of the human psyche. The poets willingly bear it. I find this worthy of continuous celebration.
I remain grateful for your willingness to correspond with THE LUNE—for the common yet uncommonly variant lives in poetry we lead and share. Here are recent developments, of which we are glad:
• Our Spring 2017 quarterly has been born. We are honored to present the triune object featuring collections by Mark DuCharme, Tara Walker, and j/j hastain. Keep an eye out for wonderful commentary from Jonathan Montgomery, Rowland Saifi, and Ellie Swensson;
• Online, we will soon be sharing the death-dance of Jacklyn Janeksela, the renaissance portraits of Theodore Sabo, the Chinese-English mutualism of Yuan Changming, and much more. Thanks for reading and for enjoying and for being in touch; and
• We are honored to announce that our Summer 2017 issue will feature the poets Laura Chalar,Ginger Teppner, and Alicia Cahalane Lewis. We look forward with shining eyes.
Yours in the colors of the vowels,
Editor & Publisher