YOU CAN’T STAY HERE

Get out of the womb,
You can’t stay here.
The cozy nursery room?
You can’t stay here.
Did you think that death
Was the only thing to fear?
Goodbye, childhood,
Innocent childhood,
You can’t stay here.
A troubled child, sassy and wild,
Too brassy now to kiss away your tear,
Changing to a woman,
You can’t stay here.
Get out, get out!
You can’t stay here!
Did you think that death
Was the only thing to fear?

OFF THE VINE

Fruit off the vine
Is like a line
Of poetry.

You slowly grew
And so you knew
Of poetry.

Poetry is time.
Time, here’s a rhyme
Of poetry.

The fruit must drop.
The line must stop
For poetry.

What is the line
If not imagined
Pleasure to see?

And to hear—
If poetry’s fear
Made the poet lucky?

I feared poetry
In my younger days;
The music plays

To insult poetry sometimes
With its rhymes.
But speech will get its revenge
When amid the hullabaloo

You say, “Did you know I love you?”

Then music will seem kind,
Sweet food for the blind,
And you and poetry
Will be of one mind.

THE MENTOR/TEACHER CULT

We can think of nothing worse for poetry than the notion that obedience to a flawed personality can make, or inspire, a poet. The insidious nature of the Mentor/Teacher cult escapes detection for two obvious reasons:

Poets, artists and scholars need to teach, obviously, since this is pretty much the only way these types of creatures can make a living.

Second, poets and artists are invested in mentoring others in ways they themselves understand/write poetry/produce art/think about things, if only to create new audiences for their own work.

So when you are a student, remember: you are the hunted. You are prey.

You will, of course, have teachers who are incompetent, bored, have no philosophy, and couldn’t care less about you.

These may actually teach you something.

But the mentor? Beware.

The mentor, armed with their particular art-philosophy, and intent on the education of your soul? They will un-learn you. They will damage you and set you back, unless of course you wish to be a mere clone of them, teaching others similarly, in turn.

Most students know to avoid the teacher who is hostile to them (the student) because they have more talent than the teacher; and many students simply refuse to be mentored by an instructor’s personal bias. After all, the student usually has more than one teacher to choose from, and may already have some idea about what they want.

But this does not change the fact that mentor-relationships are common, and corrupt.

There is nothing wrong with the mentor or enthusiastic teacher, per se.

Mentors are a danger in poetry and the arts today because there is no verifiable excellence in the arts anymore. Crackpot-ism reigns and laziness has become the rule. Poets and artists are distracted by teaching and administrative duties, as well as the million trends of the whole trendy industry itself. The mentor is invariably a lazy crackpot with narrow, trendy views.

To understand the issue a little better, think of the student in a sport. As one gains competence through training in this area, anyone can witness the excellence gained in terms of verifiable quickness, speed, coordination, and so forth. Every coach can be a jerk. This does not change the fact that an aspiring player can either hit a 90 mile per hour fastball—or not.

In sport, excellence is publicly verifiable.

In the arts, today, it is not.

Does this fact make art more sophisticated and nuanced?

We should not assume so. Yet this assumption is nearly universal in the arts.

A moment’s thought will make it clear to anyone the dangerous ramifications of such an assumption.

Especially when we consider the wisdom of the Ancient Greek philosopher, Plato, who named art as that which is concerned with measurement. We err when we think of measurement as a straitjacket, for no piece of music in the world is possible without it, no great painting, or poem, either.

But we can leave Greek philosophy and the idea that measurement is necessary for true art aside for the time being, and simply contemplate what it means to have lazy, crackpot mentor-ism (brainwashing) driving arts and arts education.

To stand out as a ‘mentor,’ one has to be narrow in one’s views, since without any verifiable excellence, excellence can only be perceived in terms of narrow trendiness—which opposes universally verifiable excellence as a matter of course.

Insane mixtures and inane combinations are the rule: the sensibility of the collage, in which whatever strikes one’s fancy, is thrown into the mixing pot, is the number one method, and the more clumsy and jarring the superimposition the better, in the art world today, since the more self-conscious the mixing is, the better, since a unity which seeks excellence as a unity is the ‘old way’ and the enemy.

A picture, which excels by uniting elements, demands excellence in three ways: 1. the parts, 2. the way the parts fit together, and 3. the final result. If the parts ‘stick out’ in a way that ruins the unified effect, this ruins the excellence; as does any one part not being excellent; as does any lack of excellence in the final result, even when every part is excellent. The collage, by its very nature, is an intentional violation of this formula. It is a formula itself, and is a formula itself as much as it subverts the higher order formula which we have just outlined.

Excellence and universality are intentionally subverted in the arts today, since virtually every critically praised painting or sculpture produced today falls under the category of collage.

Simple photography escapes, within the unified choice-frame of its eye, the collage, and therefore we have the largely unspoken irony that photography/video is now the chief art form in the art world, in the same way song lyrics today are carrying the old load which poetry once carried, and comic books, old pictorial art.

Clumsy parts clumsily fitted together—the collage—is the default method which is destroying art and poetry.

A public immediately recognizes excellence—and does so when it is a public, and when it is a public, in rare times in history, excellence flourishes in what are called “renaissance” periods.

But unfortunately a public can be split and fractured into various museum-going and academic and book-buying and politically indoctrinated pieces, trained to respect the fiat of decision-makers at the top of various mercantile, and faux-art credentialing, food chains.

The true mentor—the Socrates—comes along once every thousand years. The student is urged to reject both the mentor and the trend,  and to study history, ancient and modern—and to learn the difference between a trend and a truth.

There is much important work to be done, and the beautiful soul, guided by a kind of fanatical honesty which resists trends, should find a good library, and do that work alone.

 

 

 

 

I WENT TO VIEW THE GALLERIES

image

I went to view the galleries

And I left with a woman on my arm

Who some painters used to see—

Will this do some harm

That she is now with me?

I don’t paint. I write poetry.

 

Now the painters talk.

I get to kiss her silently.

 

I view her eyes in various light

Of days’ moods dying into moody lights at night,

But her eyes have their own light

If day drowns us, or beautiful night.

Her eyes don’t need to look at me. But they might.

 

The length and shape of her produces delight.

The painters never get her beauty right,

Not understanding perspective or the light

Which drops in shadows on the long days

Of love’s torture, to sweeten our gaze,

Loving love in the umber haze.

 

 

 

 

 

THE INSCRUTABLE

Inscrutable the lake, inscrutable the trees,
Inscrutable the voice which sounded like a breeze
Intimate with love, and its mysteries,
Like a melody springing from melodies,
Or one memory living in a heart broken
By many memories,
Not one of them spoken.

The dinosaur crept in the lake and waited,
And when global warming’s ice age had abated
And we were allowed to be human again,
The fire built to please all men,
The lake, frozen, protecting all women,
With fish below, how far below,
Swimming stratas increasingly slow,
Descending in a beautiful ratio—
The dinosaur rose, looking pitifully human,
Naked outside, scientific within,
Surrounded by the lakes and trees
Inside the poem of melodies
Crashing against the side of a successful shadow.

FIDDLESTICKS

Sanity stands apart from poetry,
Viewing my pronouncements with disdain,
But if I should sing a little song,
Sanity may yet smile, and not think me wrong,
Not think poetry is insane.

Yes, we wish we were inhabited by gods,
But the gods have left us alone
To ourselves, to ourselves,
To strive for a barren throne.

Sanity has something to do
In the parlor, at the store;
So this poem is over.
I won’t be singing to her anymore.

But later, in the evening,
When she is tired and needs to rest,
I will sing to sanity softly,
And poetry, she’ll admit, is best.

 

LOVE MEANS KILLING YOUR RIVALS: THE DILEMMA OF EITHER/OR

image

Either/Or. The Shah or this guy. 

Scarriet is the best poetry site in the world for many reasons, and one of those reasons is that we are not enslaved by any political ideology, as most American poets and intellectuals are.

Be either/or, they say. Choose, choose! Be a Democrat, not a Republican! Be ‘one of us!’ Be loyal to our side!

But to pick a side is to fall into the either/or trap, which breeds fanaticism on either end.

To not choose is the true choice, the wise, Socratic choice which supports true science and democracy.

To say we avoid political ideology, and we do not choose sides, does not mean we ignore the ugly cultural, ideological, impact that the political has on poetry and love; we know love means killing all our rivals, we are more fanatical than any political fanatic in our understanding of love—this informs our deep understanding of poetry; we embrace aesthetics, but we don’t hide inside an aesthetic bubble. We approach politics—and everything—from a position of common sense. Sometimes we fight. Sometimes we escape into our bubble. But don’t ask us to choose between Khomeini and the Shah, or between Democrats and Republicans, please. It ain’t going to happen.

We come from a liberal background; we were not raised with guns in a redneck environment; we know the New York Times and the Washington Post; we are quite familiar with “All Things Considered,” we sound like Woody Allen at times, and we have taken lately to launching into a British accent, for a whole host of reasons, the least of which is to show a kind of hopeless allegiance to the great tradition of deft, daffy, self-effacing, humorous, and confident Anglo-Americanism. We don’t ‘go’ to church. We like Sarah Palin because she wants cheaper and more accessible oil—-not because she’s a Republican. We think it idiotic to worry about whether someone is “smart” in politics; engineers who build spaceships and buildings and oil rigs should be smart; politicians should be big-hearted and childlike and funny, and not afraid to say dumb things. Bring it on. Bring on dumb. Politicians should always be dumb in a curious, evolving sort of way, and the press, full of really dumb people, and the voters—talk about dumb—need to embrace dumb and not pretend to be too smart for it. There? See? If one must discuss politics, there is no reason to get all political about it. If Hillary Clinton (criminal and ogreish—does she come from Iran?) is smarter than Sarah Palin, can anyone name one smart thing Hillary Clinton has done or said? I’m waiting. Some of Clinton’s opinions correspond with yours?  Good. But that is no indication of smart, and you are really dumb if you think that. No, really, you are. “I can see Russia outside my window,” is delightful, and if it doesn’t pass muster in a game of Jeopardy, that doesn’t matter. Believing Jeopardy-smart is truly smart is really, really dumb. And Jeopardy is one of our favorite shows.

Science is never done asking questions, and the idea that the Global Warming Debate “is over” has to be one of the dumbest things ever—and yet all of those who insist the debate “is over” (we laugh every time we see this) don’t even know what CO2 is, and think that “carbon emissions” is the same thing as pollution. And then we have the indignant “debate is over” (ha ha ha) crowd changing their terminology from “global warming” to “climate change,” and we are expected to believe this crowd is “smart” and those who oppose them are greedy oil barons, not ordinary people challenging Big Environmentalism, asking for more affordable oil prices for the poor. A “smart” person does not count the number of “scientists” who “agree” with them, when that “agreement” is only boilerplate. A “smart” person never believes polls—which, by their very nature, even if the respondents are scientists, will never be scientific, because who is asking and to what exactly does the response pertain—cannot articulate the problem, never mind be the “answer” to the problem. What was the question, again? Oh, that’s right: Why don’t some people believe the “debate is over?” And what was “the debate,” again?  Oh never mind. The “smart” ones will figure it out. Those politicians and those journalists who are “smart.” Right.

The point here, of course, is not who is finally “really” right and who is finally “really” smart.

Democracy is not a “smart” contest or a “who’s right?” contest. The whole point of democracy is that it is not either of these things.  If you are not the kind of person who is good at crossword puzzles or Jeopardy, you still should vote. We encourage you to vote. And we also encourage you not to think Jeopardy-smart is smart.

The Big Dumb is Those Who Think They Are Smart—so “smart” that the “debate is over,” as they insist you need to choose their side. These are the truly dumb.

There are millions of people who think they are “smart” because they believe in “evolution,” or, at least they think they are smarter than “creationists.”

This is colossally stupid.

First of all, believing in “evolution,” in terms of practical science, in practical matters of every kind, is nearly meaningless. Second of all, believing in “evolution” means what, exactly? That you have read the “Origin of Species?” That you’ve read a little Darwin, a lot, or just know generally who he is? And, again, this “knowledge of evolution” is truly useful in what way? And do you seriously believe this makes you on any scale whatsoever, “smarter” than anybody else?

What also makes “evolutionists” remarkably stupid is they loudly congratulate themselves as they compare themselves favorably to “creationists.” First of all, the issues involved have nothing to do with each other, since Darwin says nothing about creation, that is, the origin of the universe. Nor does religious thought need to be scientifically verified on matters that science in general is at a loss to explain. Edgar Allan Poe’s Eureka is the best scientific essay on the creation of the universe; few have read it, and therefore it is safe to say virtually everyone is ignorant of creation; so no one—not university professors, not scientists in laboratories, can say they are “smart” in this area at all, evolutionists or not. So the situation is, we have blockheads, politically motivated, referring to others as blockheads. Is that stupid? Yea, it is. So don’t brag about Darwin, okay, stupid?

How then, should we proceed? Democratically, of course. That is, always begin sympathetically with the person, not the opinions. Because if we start with the opinions, making all sorts of assumptions about what is right and what is wrong about those opinions, or who is smart or not, based on those opinions, we prejudice the person, who has a whole complex network of opinions based on how they decipher complex reality as a person—and a person, in a democratic society, no matter how much their views differ from yours, is inviolable.

By respecting the person and what they bring to the table—not any one opinion—will not only help create a freer and more democratic society, it will provide a better environment to examine opinions in a scientific and respectful atmosphere, and utilize those opinions that are best for society in the long run, in a flexible, adaptive and truly evolving manner.

By cutting off debate prematurely, democracy suffers.

Never give in to Either/or.  That’s the mark of a Third World Country.

American intellectuals, it is sad to see, are leading advocates of Either/or. Which only shows how corrupt American intellectual life has become since the American Revolution.

The common, contemporary, American, liberal or conservative intellectual belief is this: No opinion or value system should be treated with equal deference and respect in an intellectual setting. We cannot expect this, and we should not expect this.

But we should expect this. This common intellectual belief is wrong. This idea that not all value systems should be treated equally is wrong, even for an intellectual setting, as opposed to, let’s say, the voting booth.

On the contrary: Every opinion and value system should be treated with equal deference and respect, since these things only exist as they connect in a complex manner to a human being—who should always be treated with deference and respect. A creationist could be brilliant in all sorts of practical and scientific ways—for reasons not readily apparent. Not only because the creation of the universe is still a mystery, but because there are countless examples in history of great scientists (both practical and theoretical) who were deeply religious.

Science is too complex to bar anyone’s entrance into it, even if a particular opinion held by that person goes against our taste, or sense of right and wrong. If we do feel deeply that an opinion is wrong, we should examine it in the context of the person who holds that belief.

In a truly scientific atmosphere, those opinions that really are harmful and wrong will more quickly, under objective examination, fade away, than if we try to repress them.

Let us say we find abhorrent any objection to homosexuality, so that in the intellectual setting of psychology, we take every step to ban anyone who argues for homosexual rehabilitation.

But in the human sciences, human opinion of all kinds should be sacred; all humans should be treated equally, and let the opinions clash without prejudice, and see what comes of it. It is important to understand here that in this essay we are not defending any value system or opinion, but only asking for a true spirit of inquiry that in the long run will advance learning and practical good. If human beings, as human beings, object to homosexuality, this is valid—in the human sciences. If any opinion is not true or right or good, it is still a scientific opinion. This is the crucial point of this whole essay. Science means inquiry, not truth. If we allow the objections to homosexuality to get a full hearing, a full study, only then will change truly occur. Just to take a very narrow look at one aspect of behavioral context: Heterosexual males are often pathologically jealous of their female partners. Heterosexual males can feel threatened by the homosexual male who is able to befriend potential heterosexual female partners—precisely because that profound jealousy is absent. If real phenomena like this is part of the mix, and includes a truth heterosexual males may not normally admit when asserting a prejudice, this is surely part of the science of the whole topic, and should not be suppressed.

Why a person holds a belief is always more important than the belief itself.

If the issue is really heterosexual jealousy—or whatever perceptual threat homosexuality poses to the heterosexual—this does not mitigate in any way the importance of the issue in the form of scientific inquiry, whether it is prejudicial, or not.

The problem of rehabilitation is acute, since human science examines, but does not coerce. Prejudice is so entrenched in humans in so many ways, that human science finally fails as a science, as religion takes over.

Either/or is just as important to avoid in the realm of human science as it is in politics.

Defer, defer. Be wise, like Socrates.

A great deal of inquiry, especially in the humanities, does not depend on facts; indisputable facts, such as: ‘the American Civil War ended in 1865,’ are not the issue here. Humanist inquiry hinges on many divergent opinions held by many different kinds of people— and all opinions must be welcome.

Religion is the most seductive Either/or there is. This is why we don’t go to church.

But then we come at last to Holy Love, and here, finally we succumb, we must succumb, and only here, in love, do we surrender to Either/or. Only in love. Oh, God! We choose!

And when the bitter circumstances of love, infected by politics and science and religion, destroy us and break our heart in two, we have one more thing to turn to: divine poetry.

As poets, especially, we must be alive to people first, opinions second, and we really must favor what is, in fact, true inquiry over prickly political biases based on what is glibly considered intellectually “smart.”

And all of this is crucial not because politics is not important, but because, even to the poet, it is.

 

 

 

VALENTINE’S DAY POEM: WHEN WE SIGHED

The lovers are silent and in a hurry.
Words are from hurt, and worry.
Words are from sorrow and fear of death,
When limbs are weak and weak, the breath.

But when we sighed in those distant rooms
There was almost joy in those glooms.
When we courted with our words
And sang to each other like birds
Or were silent for hours, hoping with fear,
Love was actually here,
Hoping desperately deception
Was not hidden in love’s’ reception,
There was a joy in this,
That, in hope, was almost bliss.
When I was courting,
My poems did their best reporting;
Oh God! those hopeful sighs
Were almost paradise.
Now that selfish love is gone,
Beautiful thoughts still linger on,
Now words are our greatest friends,
Poems, of sweet beginnings, and even sweeter ends.
We say to ourselves, with a sigh,
“Eventually a word will happen by,
One, by this sweet occasion fit,
And it will be love when I am saying it.”
The thought is what carries us through the life,
Since thoughts are words and a word marries us to a wife.
Words comfort us out of the air
When nothing but heaviness is there.

THE DAY IS RED, THE DAY IS FADING

The day is red.
The day is fading.

I would have fought for you,
Though you had been my enemy,
Though you had been untrue—
For when I love, I love
And nothing else will do.

You kissed me slowly.
I wrote poems to you.

“Take me for your own,”
Was all you had to say:
I would have taken you

In the light of day
And carried you away.

But you were like those girls
Who don’t know what to say
When the loving one they love
Is standing in their way.

You thought about the others—
The others? Love which filled the years
Will pass. They will be puzzled by your tears.

WILL I BE WISER NOW?

 

You broke my heart. I was afraid
To lose you. I panicked. And I paid.
I see that you are dwelling in my shade.
What if I should hold you, again, somehow?
How much love can a broken heart allow?
Will I be wiser now?

Shall we be cowardly or brave?
Is there something in all of this to save?
Shall we be cowardly or brave?

If you still love me, let me know.
I still love you, if you think it doesn’t show.
I love you and I don’t think this love will ever go.
But how much love can a broken heart allow?
What if I ruin our love, again, somehow?
Will I be wiser now?

 

 

TO ______

image

The one I love wants to talk—
I hope she wants to talk of love;
I hope she wants to talk of kissing
And the silent stars above.

The memory of her kisses
Cannot be wiped away
By love, by a conversation,
Or by a song I heard today

That tells of a broken heart
And the pain that comes from love—
Despite all the kissing
And the silent stars above.

AN ESSAY FOR VALENTINE’S DAY: THE CONSPIRACY OF THE LOVELESS

image

Is it bad to objectify women?

No, it is not.

Physical love is not only a rich source of pleasure, it is the way we produce children. These are not minor things.

Friendly relations between human beings has nothing to do with humanity’s survival; friendship is perhaps the most overrated thing there is.

Intent on physical love, we are not friendly; we merely act in a friendly manner to get what we want. Friendly is an act in all cases, and always will be.  For friendly is not what we are—it is a means to an end. When we are being creative, when we joy at the appearance or the sensual rush of something, or whenever we are actually doing something worthwhile, we are never in that mood which would be termed friendly.

Yet some of us, either shamed by moral guidelines, or having no creative will at all, but often a manipulative one, aspire to the friendly as if it were the only thing that matters. If only everyone were as nice as I am, as conscientious and thoughtful as I am, they think, we wouldn’t need beauty, or thought, or the heroic, or inventions, or desire! No bloodshed! No objectifying women! No comparison and competition! Everyone working together nicely! We all know them; typically, they are upper middle management types who wear nice clothes and spend their public lives alternately sneering and fawning and their private lives cursing and weeping. The nice restaurant or the nice pair of shoes is everything to them; they regard an idea with horror.

So no, we are not being friendly when we objectify women. Granted, it is not a friendly thing to do.

To objectify is not a friendly pursuit, nor is it a superficial one—it belongs to creativity, to scientific observation, to the comedic/hurtful, and to love. It does not belong to the world of nice bureaucrats who wear nice shoes and pursue nice as the most important thing in the world.

The objection to objectifying another human being carries the implication that in general it is always good to let another person pursue happiness as a free, unfettered and independent being and always bad to bond or enslave another for your pleasure.  But of course this is totally ridiculous. The ‘friendly’ use high sounding rhetoric to muddy the waters of thinking—unable to think, nice becomes the default setting, and thus the nice nicely triumphs in a kind of paralysis of smiling and obedient dumb.

To clear away the sludge of the friendly, then, and look at the whole thing in a clear light:

To objectify is to look and to judge—which is what we all do all the time, anyway.

The more we love someone, the more we objectify them, the more we are concerned with their physical appearance. Judging by appearance is a highly efficient way to judge, for the simple reason that your physical appearance contains a tremendous amount of information about you and whoever is interested in you as more than a simple means to an end will not be interested in you as a miasma or a mist, a code or a symbol, but as an object with physical properties—even friends—even a dog recognizing their master—identify and cultivate an attachment based on objectification—on purely physical recognition.

It is the partiality which the friendly object to—a photograph of a comely woman on the cover of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue, for instance, presents the most superficial information, such that we know nothing of the person, only how a moment’s camera angle feeds the great public beast of shallow objectification and lust.

But it isn’t like every man who looks at a photograph of a media-attractive woman gets a boner—we are really not talking about the healthy lust of physical love and child-making; what the friendly are truly objecting to in magazine-cover gazing is the comparative faculty which is invoked—to their detriment. This is the problem. Comparison, and complex comparison, in fact, which is at the heart of all rational and creative thought, is what the friendly hate.

It shouldn’t be necessary to point out—but we will: partial information is always at work—the comely woman on the magazine cover could be smart, as much as we can define the term—like appearance, intelligence is a complex quality which always lives in context and partiality and mystery; to object to any partial bit of information for reason of its partiality (shame on you, only judging by appearance!) is fruitless and silly.

Because the partial lives in the physical, or the beauty of the physical, this is no recommendation against it; in fact, partial belief elicited by rhetoric (which always traffics in the partial) is far more insidious, since the brain always recognizes a photograph as information which is essentially lacking in completeness. But a lecture, a speech, a piece of rhetoric, can win the gullible over completely— even though, it, too, is partial information, often driven by hidden motive—by its very nature as a piece of rhetoric. By comparison to a piece of rhetoric, a photograph of a beautiful woman is innocuous, harmless, and meaningless.

Except for the fact that a photograph of a beautiful woman could be important, beneficial, and profound.

This is because the drawback of partiality is solved in one instance: in the appearance of beauty—which manifests itself as beauty precisely because we experience it not partially, but as complete, as whole, as one. 

True beauty is that which escapes partiality, and pleases (often mysteriously) for that very reason. This is how love works—the appearance/existence of the beloved is complete in itself; it is not information leading to something else; it is utterly loved for what it is. To be in love is to wish to be in the presence of the beloved for no other reason than to be in their presence.  Here is the crucial distinction: appearance/existence versus mere appearance.

How can a picture of someone else, no matter how beautiful they appear in the picture, compete with the beloved’s physical manifestation?

It cannot. Being in love, we are acutely aware of a greater manifestation of love as physical presence; the very air around our beloved becomes a physical force when they come into our sight—mere pictures seem bereft to us: we look at a beautiful woman in a photo and merely think: this is a stranger, this is not our love.

In love, one object overshadows all the others. Pictures hurt us only if we are not in love. Pictures are made by, and for, the loveless.

The evil of objectifying women, then, is no evil at all. Objectifying is a complex process involving science and love.

We have yet to mention objectifying men—and the evil that women tend to be objectified, and men, not. But again, this is a mere distraction; equality of the sexes is not hindered by so-called objectifying at all; objectifying will only lead to more equality, since science and love, which both always objectify, point the way to equality.

Love and science are standards of truth. If equality of the sexes is a truth, then objectifying—which is what love and science do—will work towards equality.

Are men objectified? Of course they are! Constantly!

The chief ill in all of this is the fear of objectifying, and that fear is the fear that partial untruth will win the day, that the superficially beautiful will get all the lovers. As we have pointed out, however, this fear is unfounded, misguided, and blocks both love and scientific inquiry; this fear is the revenge of the loveless, the revenge of the merely friendly.

If you believe you are ugly and loveless, the answer is not to suppress or resent the spirit of objectifying beauty; the spirit of objectifying will one day, if it looks cunningly enough, rescue you.  And the knife cuts both ways; if you believe you are “beautiful” and “loved” for that reason, perhaps you are wrong. The god of love is more mischievous than we assume, and makes mischief by the most superficial and physical means.

The only cure for the objectifying gaze is an objectifying gaze that is even more intense and personal and matchless in the spirit of love. Only picturing beauty can transcend beauty merely pictured.

Happy Valentine’s Day.

 

MY LOVE NO LONGER BELONGS

My love no longer belongs to your life;
But your love to my life still belongs
For my happiness. For my happy songs.

You have given my love back.
But I still love you: I do not have that lack.

My love no longer belongs to you,
Your soul, or all your soul knows it must do.

Love made your life too precarious,
Too fateful and too serious.
Calmly, you move back to old, slow habits;
And you will grow old, and the years shall run like rabbits.

No need to run for that illicit train
Or present for love’s inspection your body and brain;
Now you can relax while you dream.

Now you can put on makeup for everyone, not me,
Who made paramount you, and your beauty.
Now you can just say anything, again,
And impress billions of men.

Who wants to be confined?
And to make matters worse, we pined.

Love really was a pain in the ass.
It had its moments, but let them pass.

What was it for, if not for children?
It only takes a moment to make a child
So then it happens you can never be wild.
You were getting old for them to have been,
So love fed amusement, flattery, and sin.
The pleasant illusion you had of me
(Of course) couldn’t stand up to scrutiny.

Women love jealousy, because they are turned on
By sparks of social comparison;
This jealousy the man has to rise above;
Indifference to the woman is the secret to success in love.
And its downfall, as well.
No wonder passionate love is a kind of hell.

I learned this too late
(I don’t know how I survived the first date)
Because I was focused entirely on you—
Or maybe not. Maybe I had some genius for indifference, too.

Who really knows?
Maybe you got sick of the shape of my nose.
Or maybe you had anxiety disorder
And you couldn’t handle me crossing your border.
I doubt it. It was the jealousy
That finally did in you and me.
I dug in. So you had to flee.

But your love in my life still remains:
For my songs, for which I take such pains.

I CARE WHAT BEAUTY LIKES

I care what beauty likes,
And what beauty likes is hate,
For when beauty finally loves
Liking is too late.

Beauty noticed long ago:
The standards of beauty are severe.
I kiss her, I kneel before her;
But beauty loves distantly; she doesn’t love what’s here.

Beauty made me jealous;
I was blinded by my fire,
A flame she loved too much:
Shame overtook desire.

Now what can she say
To family and friends:
Here is my life
And here is where it ends?

Our love was not heroic.
It’s easy to be distracted:
This is why she erred,
And why I reacted.

THIS POEM IS NOT FOR YOU

 

 

I’m sorry you have to read this.
It is not for you. What you are reading
Is me writing to somebody else
Who has a mouth I want to kiss.

There is nothing for you here
And not in the sense of false, or true.
You have no context for what she and I do.
In every sense this poem is not for you.

If you saw my love in a picture
You still wouldn’t know.
There is just something about her…

Am I wise to let this go?
Should I have more faith in language?
But that’s precisely it—I do.
I am using language to make an important point:
The impossibility of this poem being able to say anything to you.
It is her mouth I want to kiss.
You will have to be satisfied with this.

 

 

 

 

REMEMBERING ROD MCKUEN: POPULAR POET, SONGWRITER

Rod McKuen, with Frank Sinatra. McKuen sold 100 million records and 60 million books.

Scarriet owes a great debt to the cross-over genre of Poetry As Song/Song As Poetry.

Our most popular and oft-visited post is The Top One Hundred Popular Song Lyrics That Work As Poetry, published a year and a half ago, which gets thousands of hits a week.

Scarriet embraces the accessible in poetry and believes Pound and Williams killed the art.  We love Romantic poetry and believe Shakespeare, Keats and Poe represent the pinnacle of modern achievement, and that since then there has been a great falling off.

So we ought to acknowledge the passing of Rod McKuen (April 29 1933—January 29 2015) who was a popular American poet and songwriter in the French chanson tradition.

Not that we love McKuen’s poetry; it is wretched, for the most part. But the songwriting aspect of his popularity, and the way poetry and songwriting in popular culture mysteriously intertwine ought to be addressed, and we will address it here very briefly.

A popular song works its magic in a moment-to-moment fashion and will not stand still for profound contemplation; as much as poetry is like popular song, that poetry repels, by its very nature, the profound, or the deep.

But we can go even further: whatever is monumental (think of Michelangelo’s David) makes its impact on us immediately—any art product achieves true, popular, success quickly and superficially.

This partially answers the question pertaining to Rod McKuen.

How can something be bad and also good?

This question best sums up the aesthetic phenomenon in philosophical terms.

To put it as simply as possible:

To be popular, one must be bad, for to triumph in the eyes of the many is to court that which is low and unlearned.

And yet to stand apart from rivals by achieving popular success is good.

To court the low, however, even in a successful manner, is, in the final analysis, bad.

And thus the critic Julia Keller called McKuen “gooey schmaltz that wouldn’t pass muster in a freshman creative-writing class” which “the masses ate up with a spoon, while highbrow literary critics roasted him on a spit.”

The complexity enters when we reflect that “the masses” are—to call them bad or good, or unlearned or learned, is to impose an artificial idealism upon nature—which, by its very existence, transcends all man-made judgements, no matter how “highbrow.” If “the masses” want “schmaltz,” it would be stupid not to give it to them, and whether it “passes muster in a creative-writing class” is beside the point.

Just as human painting fails miserably when compared to reality, all that is literarily highbrow also fails in the same way.  To court nature, by appealing to “the masses” directly, with “schmaltzy” poetry, is a strategy which not only courts success, but bests the “highbrow” at its own game, since the “schmaltzy,” by definition, is precisely an expression of weakness and failure characterized by the tremendous gap between attempts by the most supreme highbrow formulations of art to capture reality and magnificent, infinite reality itself—which dwarfs all human aspirations to artistically render that reality.

The spark that sets aflame any given artist’s popularity is always a complex crossroads of effort, luck, timing, and so forth, as complex as any highbrow artwork itself. Rod McKuen’s life and fame, then, deserves as much study as any other artist’s life and fame: Ezra Pound, or James Joyce, for instance.

Schmaltz is timeless, and if Pound avoided it in poetry more unique than McKuen’s, this only means Pound succeeds (in relative terms) in the lower order of humanity’s vain efforts to compete with nature and reality, whereas McKuen succeeds (in relative terms) in the higher order of reality itself, in which human schmaltz is a million times more prevalent than any quality we might extract from the work of Pound.

We find ourselves unable—and we challenge anyone else to—say one thing which makes Pound more important than McKuen, that would not immediately draw suspicion of merely saying that which sounds highbrow but has no real meaning at all.

For what is human expression which we term ‘art,’ but expression by people and for people, and for that purpose alone?

Science is another thing, and all agree schmaltz has no place there.

But to judge poetry and song by standards which have nothing to do with them is to founder on the mercantilism of creative-writing and the wind-blown delusions of highbrow criticism, and to ultimately descend to even lower depths of pretense and folly.

JUST A WORD

image

I examine the picture with horror,

A photograph of one I loved,

A photograph marking a place and memories

With others, all having little to do with me.

Yet, because of the intimacy we achieved

It has everything to do with me.

The more we try and make sense of sex

The more it seems absurd.

My eye caught fire from her body and face.

Only poetry saves. Please, just a word

Of kindness for her before I die in disgrace.

She is not smiling in the photograph,

Nor does the picture capture the beauty

She had all those times when she was kissing me.

She and I hate being photographed, not because we are ugly—

No, she’s an exquisite beauty, but smiling naturally isn’t easy;

She’s sad, even miserable, and when she laughs, she laughs bitterly.

Almost religiously, I hate images, but the cruel smile

Of Cover Girl femme fatale is what my poetry uses.

When I ask her to smile for my poem, naturally she refuses.

 

 

 

%d bloggers like this: