Saturday, December 10, 2005

This ecstatic air

I did not choose the name for the blog by complete accident or for purely esthetic reasons (as important as those always are for me). Botanist on Alp (No. 1) has always been a very essential poem for me as it brilliantly, fiercely accurately sketches our historical situation (in haunting, beautiful language) : what composition there really could be in all this - only statues and stars without a theme? And still, surely, despair cannot be the specialty of this ecstatic air. Can it? But here we are, gradually forgetting Christianity (echoes of Botanist No. 2 here - I wonder if I could tolerate the earth without it) and our Classical heritage, inventing all variety of practical things, enjoying previously unimaginable material wealth - getting lost. Poised, I suppose, confusedly between two worlds, currently having none. Botanist on Alp defines our present location but only asks questions of our future course: will it nevertheless end up in despair and incoherence?

2 comments:

helsinkian said...

What do you mean by incoherence? What are the worst threats in that regard and when are we coherent? People have always tried to be coherent in one way or another but the collision with the other or others is usually too drastic. There are so many unheard voices. Poetry is a good way to make those voices sing and give comfort in a sometimes incomprehensible world.

stockholm slender said...

Well, to quote Wallace Stevens:

"But in Claude how near one was / (In a world that was resting on pillars, / That was seen trough arches) / To the central composition, / The essential theme."

This has widely been taken to refer to the classical civilization (in his amazing playful and profound, economical language). I do think that the premodern civilization did really have a structure, a coherence that the modern, post-classical and post-Christian Western civilization lacks. We have gadgets and wealth but not much content and form. There surely has been some sort of "dissociation of sensibility" - even if not in a very Eliotian way. I would never go back to some Athenian brutality, but I would certainly go forward and not stay in this quite ugly, empty and chaotic place.