I have faced the questions of why and not to publish my poetry. The most important and compelling feeling is to share all that I can with those who are willing to listen and those who might argue. I cannot simply keep my pen down. It’s in me and it’s got to come out! It is as if a flood of inspiration is felt upon my entire being right down into the core of me—my soul. And I know it is right. I instinctively know that what drops or buckets full trickle down from the flood I must catch and make record of on paper.
I could not go on with my life as a human being without sharing because like all of us, I desire affirmation. I desire the feeling I get when someone shakes his head and laughs at my writing or when someone lowers her head and sighs a knowing sigh and wipes a gentle tear from her cheek.
Poetry, like philosophy is a deep self-seeking journey which requires a sense of pure objectivism. A person set out to prove the existence of g-d cannot be outwardly turned.
I have also asked the question, why me? Am I strong enough to bear the cosmic weight of this seemingly universal message of inspiration? Socrates carried a message that brought him death. Plato suffered to do what no one else could. They each tried to educate us and were systematically punished and persecuted by their own governments. They were declared insane or otherwise ostracized. I am no Plato, still I need philosophy to help piece this puzzle together. Why bother with Algebra? Because without it, we would not have the tools with which to build upon all this destruction – this razed ground. We will choose and hone our skills with many tools before it is time to use them – if at all. Sometimes a practice is just that. It is in the gathering of the pieces, discussing and sharing our ideas about them with each other in which we formulate a grander wisdom through dialogue.
This brings us to a workable philosophy. It is a journey, a triumph in and of itself. At the height of doubt, of curiosity, of inquiry we are knocking at the doors of philosophy. As I read, I wonder not if poetry is one form. What is philosophical thought anyway if it is not the essence behind our everyday thoughts and actions. Am I to explain in precise detail the origin of this the biggest metaphor; define each connotation; reveal the hidden truths in every smile? How unromantic! But the answer is yes!
Philosophy is an uncovering of what has been overshadowed by the fear, greed, lust and ignorance of humans. There will always be shadows and echoes. It is through the teaching of philosophy that we can begin to realize a shadow for that which cast it—an echo of the memory of all such knowledge—hidden inside us as if for preservation. Everything has already been said. There is nothing new. All we have to do is ask the right questions. The answers are already there. Just wait, science is working on proving them.
Philosophy is a seeking, a questioning and a resolution in itself and all within the boundaries of our minds in reason and logic. The absolute truth we all seek is nowhere to be found but inside our selves and not subjective. To get to the essence of that statement, let’s look at some famous cases for and against.
From atop the rubble of what we have made into nothingness, our odyssey begins. Essence being soul, cogito, mind. Nothingness that of which we shall not speak. We have unreliable even deceptive senses. We are “infected with darkness”, “truth is nothing more than the shadow of artificial things”(1) Like prisoners we suspect that we are dreaming and conspire with pleasant allusions.(2) And we see the light as shafts, bursting in on such comfortable darkness to blind our eyes and scorch the skin. And we know it all to be true—the shadows, the fire, the blackness, the echo, the memory—reminiscence.
But to grasp the bits of dust, particles of ions; a speck of elephant’s hoof all right there in front of your face—is it an impossibility? A problem for the imagination to be sure. So take a fistful from the ether and seal it up tight. When you open your fist again what do you see? Is it the same? Has it multiplied? Or do you see nothing at all? How do you know for certain?
These questions make me weary. One thing I discovered through the meditations of Descartes is that most of us are only extended things and not beings at all. If non-existence follows thoughtlessness as Descartes believes, than a rather large segment of the human population is at definitive risk.
We would do better to study Heidegger’s Dasein—this idea is closer to the truth in today’s market. The statement: “I think, therefore I exist.” Has fallen to question as well. Sarte believes Descartes cogito to be purely reflective and in essence he believes that it is Descartes’ awareness of thought that brings him into existence.
It is at it appears. I see it. It exists. I exist because I think I see it. I know nothing with this mind. Descartes waxes on by example. Not only does it conform to mold as a solid and melt into liquid next to flame, I have seen entire wax worlds. Here, bridges which appear to cobblestone are carved from the wax of our worldly worries. Water falls torrent and still, reflective pools, a castle and a tower stand teetering on the brink of non-existence. All as old as time and time’s elements and not in the least architecturally sound. All tempered with a skilled hand and the deepest human sincerity under the magnifying glass with which we so often judge our lives in gross detail.
My stomach is fat with all that I have just eaten. I have a nutritive soul, an airy appetite and hot coals under my feet. Yet the wax remains from underworld’s darkness into the fire above as only an extended thing known into judgment.
The sky, the stars, adventitious ideas.
On more than one occasion I have felt the strange sensation of being in a non-existent world. This sensation leads me to believe that I am not in fact, “Behind the wheel of a large automobile,” although my foot gently presses on the accelerator and my hands grasp the steering wheel firmly. The top of my skull seems to open upward, my sight line increases far beyond the next stop light; in fish eye fashion peripheral images appear as part of the whole picture and my ears seem to fill with a liquid that drowns out every sound while simultaneously isolating each vibration to the point of perfect crystallization. I am aware of this state and explore it thoroughly. The mind no longer requires those interpreters of the many languages the outside world speaks through our senses. The speedometer reads eighty-five miles per hour yet I feel not the wind which must surely be force enough to harm unprotected eyes. My body feels as if it is being propelled and I see the trees that line the road bending under air’s pressure but in my enclosed environment, I remain relatively still. In fact, I would have gone on like that, perhaps even forfeiting my destination to remain within that realm of rapid motionlessness if it weren’t for the sudden oddly welcomed red and blue lights of the highway patrol. The officer’s harsh light a disenchanting reminder of an all too human reality.
Descartes will “deliberately fall asleep so that dreams might represent more clearly and truly” that which he knows but without certainty. He uses meditations—a waking sleep or a conscious connection with the sub-conscious or soul—“a rarified I-know-not-what,”—to answer such inquiries that while known to the self are yet undiscovered by the mind too busy to ask, much less listen.
The problem in existence as a thinking, doubting, sensing, intrinsically tangible soul on this our earth lies in the intangible fact of our being. We inevitably require graven images, physical evidence. Faith in the hands of a believer is a beaded cross to bear. A rosary is a prayer better said aloud at Mary’s sacred altar in the presence of self.
Right now I am hungry, my stomach moans its disapproval at my choice of priorities. It is a tedious chore that must be yet another proof of life. I hunger, therefore I exist.
1 – Aristotle, The Cave 2 – Descartes, Meditations