The language sits there having already said everything. Every word means something already known in existence. We cannot hide behind a tree, it exposes us. We fall in waterfalls, and we are wet by a known wetness.
What is still unknown is the poet. He practices unknowingness; he is a master. Sages point to Nothing as the place of being, but they offer no new moves for god. The beginning point of being is an unwanted state. Being is a forever by choice. Not being is wanted by people who want existence.
So then what? New games may not include enough infinity. One chooses himself to be the scope of speaking, but if one is a small life, his poems are miniatures. If he takes on a lover, then there are two lives against infinity. If one includes more lives, he moves toward the “universal.”
If one speaks in English he excludes vast zones: zebras, elands, elephants, crocodiles, bears, Frenchmen, gnats, Russians, water nymphs, oreads (mountain girls), waitresses, dryads (tree girls). If one speaks French, he loses most of the planet. So what is left?
Poetry carries viewpoints in its words. It gives ways to be. It is something to do. And we are human because it was something interesting to do. We are dead because the despair of being trapped in human bodies drives us to philosophy. Philosophy kills. It sets limits on action. It limits god. It even kills god and replaces him with brain chemicals. It invents death philosophy to solve the problems of living consecutive trapped lives.
But what I am saying is philosophy, so there must be exceptions to death. What do we do then? How do we continue the game and still have us alive at the end of immortality?
We revise the poet.
We grab him by his infinite throat and say, your god department is falling down on the job of creating civilizations. Right away we insist on work. The poems must sweat with eternal viewpoints. A poet is not a large enough god. We slap him about his soul.
The generals have wider death zones than a poet has living zones. The generals have better money and more slaves and cannon fodder and recruits for the noble purpose of giving one’s life uselessly for his country, out of love. Out of poetry. Death’s poetry is more awe inspiring. The smart bombs are more logical. The effects created on our friends, the enemies, are more impressive than a sonnet about love.
How do we revise the poet so that he can out-think and out-smart the glorious nuclear red glare giving proof through the night that we do not care for the infinite part, the immortal part of man? We crush those parts. We are tough guys. Don’t mess with us, we work with the logic of a cliff falling on you. We win, you die.
How do we revise poets so that they can carry superior ideas, the kind that will stop the fingers from pulling triggers, or pushing the red start buttons of the Apocalypse? Is life itself not a strong enough idea? Is it not dramatic enough? Do we really get empires and slaves out of life? Beings do not die. Opponents do not die, friends do not die. They are a delayed future fuse. The thrills come from making life suffer, from making it subservient, from the return of feudalism. From slave camps where you can hear medical diseases festering with unlimited cash from health benefits. Then the fuse explodes, again missing the guilty.
Death is the only impressive game, and death owners are happy with us when we are sick and dying. They get our property, taxes, they get the universe as intellectual property (because they are more stupid?). The meek inherit nothing. The cruel steal and it works. They win; the innocent were not tough enough.
So how do we revise the poet to create life in the face of Defense Against Life Forms Departments. Where are the thirteen trillion dollars for the recovery of the soul? Oops, I forgot, governments are not allowed to believe in immortal souls, that would put them in the field of religion. But most certainly they are allowed to suppress the soul, even if they do not believe it exists. Then they can collect trillions to keep souls safe from terrorists. And from poets and artists too. And from love of each other.
What would be the superior ideas? Total personal responsibility for conditions in an ever widening sphere of ethics? Certainty of self as a spiritual being who knows that he creates forms, conditions, barriers, survival, life, unhappiness and happiness? Refuses to let anyone cut his reach into god ranges, nor into infinities of potential in other lives? Recovery of language so that it means what it says? Understood words of all kinds? Recovery in others of ability to look? The ability to play fair and honestly? Using new viewpoints to create constructive realities?
We can hide poems in a song, movie, drama, political oratory. We whisper, “You are an immortal spiritual being who has been under attack for trillions of years and you have lost all recall of it. Now you are happy to be a wage slave because you get to kick back, relax, have sex and beer and then you die from expensive medical treatment, and this is natural law. Life as we know it. And you never have to take responsibility for your acts because it was a chemical disorder anyway. And if it is not too late, you can still pick up a drug addiction which will slowly erase your conscience and you will die not knowing anything about yourself; it’s how you wanted it all along. Be happy that you are dead. It is so much easier for you, and for us.” The deceitful inherit the earth. You were too much trouble as an immortal soul. (Be careful of that word immortal, it packs too much truth and it keeps you around dazed and stupid from lifetime to lifetime. We have almost gotten rid of that word. It is chemically not cool to be who you really are.)
We have the idea of responsibility for the creation of civilizations in the face of death. Dead people are a minority who have given themselves the power to die in public. You first. If we roll over we add our apathy to the bomb’s red glare we burn in the furnace of defeat. So how do we revise the poet? There are little steps. Answer your letters. Clean your room. Use a dictionary. Make it your business to have a living planet to get reborn to. We are our own future children. This universe does respond to reason and our enemies have found it useful to align themselves with bombs as a way of thinking in a flash of burning bodies. Their fingers are on the triggers and they itch. They do not itch with creation of life.
We need larger lives, larger beings, larger minds, we need poems that carry living cities in their words. We must recover abandoned creation powers. I do not know how to revise poets, nor how to rescue slaves, unless it is live communication among all beings. Negative conditions are created and probably wanted, reformers are a pain in the heartbreak. And the heartbreak is so delicious, it is a way to go extinct. Maybe each of us will have to find the first line of a living poem and step into its forward-moving tide. Other poems descend into the abyss: drug poems, war poems, angry poems. The intention to destroy shows off its power, but it is a parasite power. It can only destroy life. Life is the first power.
Poets are of the first power. They create the living eyes of living cities. The virgin futures are awake and waiting with open eyes. Your friends are already there among vineyards and apple orchards. The bread is in the oven and the butter churned. But what if we give a future and nobody comes? The poets, the artists, ethics magistrates, course supervisors, ethical beings, are planks in the bridge over the abyss. The poet may want to become a bridge with poems as transparent arms embracing his fellow beings. Poets may want to become recruiters for the Dawn of Man.
I don’t know. Idealism is suspicious. So far “realists” have stolen reality and have unlimited cash and the votes. Under their care we have many ways to die and even then, we have not been “saved.” I remember having had this conversation in 548 BC under a porch in Athens. Personal responsibility for the city seemed like a good idea back then too. Didn’t catch on. A philosophy delayed personal responsibility by laying it at the feet of an external savior not you. You just obey now and you will be rewarded in the sky later.
I vote for us. Seems like it is our unfinished work.
October 25, 2003
Copyright © 2003 by Russell Salamon. All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission.
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REVISING THE POET: THE DAWN OF MAN
I know this is too cheerful. There must be cash energy in it and promotional energy behind such a plan. Nightly, hourly, ghoul news, cadaver updates, have unlimited communications lines. A poem has word of ear to only a few eyes. How do we revise the poet into smart explosions? We still have word of mouth. And because of Thomas Jefferson, we still have the idea of free speech. The idea of free speech. Nice idea.
Elsewhereness, spectatorism, escape by death and illiteracy are still popular. Death is the easy slide out. But it has a drawback, there is no bottom door. We come back. Here we still are on each other’s nerves. What would be the idea strong enough to stop the encroaching Dark Ages? Who is illuminated enough to flash over the land with unlimited future worlds? And who will bring us into being on actual dirt?