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Friday, November 6, 2015

A Call to the Numinous


Down the dark arm of a lake in the Adirondacks, I listened in rapture as my father yodeled into the shadowy hulk of a mountain. The forest and still water of the lake rang with his notes. Birds, owls, coyotes took up the call. For me it was magical, I did not reason it was my father's voice I heard.

The poem is the key, the yodel into the blackness of night. It brings back with it a chorus of the unexpected.

To the pre-classical ancients, poetry and metaphor were one, married by a dramatic ritual.

The approach to metaphor was dangerous, propitiously made with offerings. The Muse is capricious, gifted, but treacherous. Dionysus the otherworldly assistant to dramatic performances in a modern world, recruited the sane into his callings and made them mad like him.

Religion institutionalizes the ways and means of madness, integrates a bit of healthy madness for all of us, with our dreams, with what we can't understand.

Approaches to the Gods are fraught with danger, summoning Kali or visiting Baba Yaga in the forest, potentially deadly.  Dionysus's maenads tore the living apart in orgiastic frenzies of horror. Baba Yaga and Kali both drank blood. Vampires all, just as authors are vampires of language.

A writer allows himself to be eaten, but drinks the blood of poetic ancestors. For sound, like light, is vibration and in vibration exists the passage of all that passes from one place to another.

Borrow the ritual from someone else? How long did the source of the Nile evade Western explorers?

A murky understanding may be felt more than understood. It doesn't razor past our pupils in bright light. Darkness covets. The abyss holds secrets.

Sometimes meanings seem clear. For instance with Farsi court poetry, there is so much, too much even. All is there, all readable, all logical. Why do some poems, not others, stir the imagination memory, awaken old DNA? Have Heraclitus and the I Ching become poetry?

I'm not really conscious of what forces me to finish my project on the vampire. At best he may be a metaphor, male logos that has stripped language of numinous content. The vampire has lived rather long don't you think? He's a tired trope. He drains language of meaning. I know things will have to change. Yes, my vampire must die but it hasn't happened yet. Perhaps his death is a shift in subject, perhaps the poem is no longer about him at all.

When speaking of metaphor, think source, as in the sources of rivers. Every salmon in the sea knows where that is. It may be easy to grasp, or nigh impossible. But it is sensed. It may be a riddle, has never solved, but left to confound readers with mystery for centuries to come.


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