Why is poetry vitally important?

Trees as flowers

Poetry is vitally important because it exposes us to the truth of being, in such a way, that we can become poetry. By being truly poetic or poietic, our relationship with the world changes. It is no longer an issue of what the world can do for me (e.g. utilitarianism), but what can we do together to manifest the truth within through the beautiful and even the sublime.  If I can manifest such, then I am no longer a prisoner of the darkness that pulls mankind to hide itself from the truth. I become a beacon of transparency, a poietic voice that is in congruence with himself or herself and physis[1] To see the relationship between the poietic and physis see the following post: Where does the word poetry come from?

Physis is nature and nature is poetry as the German Romantic poet Novalis tells us:

“On the nature of poetry — the blossom is quite poetic.”[2] Novalis, Novalis: Philosophical Writings, ed. Margaret Mahony Stoljar, trans. Margaret Mahony Stoljar (Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1997), 158.

We are that blossom. We, by being, are poetic as the blossom but that is not enough. The world is not about just contemplating the blossom, but about also doing the blossoming through a creative love and by doing so we are being poetry. If we are poetry, then we can now contemplate

“the world as one would contemplate a great mind”[3] Novalis, Novalis: Philosophical Writings, 158..

As its expansiveness, we could be the “self-consciousness of the universe”[4] Novalis, Novalis: Philosophical Writings, 158., an Openness that sees itself and describes itself through our poiesis over and over again through different minds from the innermost of their hearts to the cosmic heart beats of our expanding universe.

It is through these visions of the Open that we, intersubjectively, through empathy we can transcend our constant pulling toward a selfishness that leads us to believe that we are completely separate from everything that we touch, eat, or create. That said we are indeed separate[5] We are separate if we think in regards to a mental construct or a concept. For example, we know that a tree is not a human., but are also united[6] We are united by blending our concepts through metaphor. For example, trees can have qualities that we humans have such as sturdiness. If I say, I am a tree, I am saying… I am sturdy, strong, or another attribute trees have. We are also united by changing the boundaries of our physicality. For example if I eat a fruit, part of it becomes me as it nourishes me. Another example is realizing that I am not only my brain but also the information that flows through my fingers into a computer. just as thoughts are distinct one from another but at the same time these thoughts are all parts of a same mind. We also as individuals are separate, but have a common framework of DNA, cells, and even atoms. Therefore, we as poetry are a self-consciousness of the universe that unfolds its hidden love, which sticks us together insofar it lets us be freedom itself, everywhere so we can perceive it, and thus, exist as the Being of beings.

The hidden love is an unfulfilled love. It is a love that is there, but concealed from our everyday perception due to our own suffering and narrow vision that defines the world as world and me as me. However, by being poetry, a light shines to unconceal the unconditional communication between everything that is being. This unconditional communication is love.[7] To understand more about the concept of unconditional communication read footnote 6 in What is Poetry? If we can see and feel such communication, our conception of the world changes. A tree is not only a tree, but it is also the air I breathe. In metaphor but later understood through a calculative vision, we can see the poetic in nature, and therefore, in us. If we can reach that vision that transforms your perception and makes you see yourself as poetry, how would you be transformed?

For example rather than building machines for the sole purpose of personal gain, we would make them with the purpose of beautifying the world. What a world would that be![8] As a guiding example, I would like to point out an essay by the philosopher Sean McGrath. He provides us with three ways that would make our technology beautiful inspired by the medieval tripartite structure of beauty. He points out that a technology that has a fittingness, transparency, and self-containment would be beautiful. For him, fittingness means to reach a harmonic balance between the parts using for example a proportion that can be seen beautiful such as the golden ratio would be.  Transparency means that we let physis be visible and hide again such as an architect that builds in consideration of the light coming in and then hiding away as the night comes to be. Finally, self-containment would be to create a technology which does not tie us with desire. It is, for example, a technology that can be turned off and we can still experience life in its fullest because we are not attached with desire toward it. We might love it and use it, but in its experience it is self-contained, therefore as a node, it can be severed for a while and still our lives wouldn’t be affected in its core. If we have thought how to create self-contained nodes that are connected, rather than a complex web that devours us in its inexorable belly then we can experience the beautiful in technology rather than being servile to it.  See Sean McGrath, “Toward A Technology That Allows The Beautiful To Occur,” Animus 8 (December 22, 2008): 18-20, http://www2.swgc.mun.ca/animus/articles/volume%208/mcgrath8.pdf. It is not about being disconnected to technology, but to see it in terms of its beauty so we can continue to be poetry as we become more technologically inclined. I must alert the reader that I am not favor a mere Romanticism of the world into seeing it as poetic as an oversimplification that disregards the postmodern world, but into something more meaningful that is aware of the need of technology and mimetic processes to provide shelter and basic needs to the most possible. However, there has to be a balance between the way we perceive ourselves as poetry and a crude reality (e.g. hunger and fear in war). As I wrote in a footnote 10 in Where does the word poetry come from?, we will get rid of garbage by seeing it and loving it, not ignoring it.  We need to learn to love the worst in us to begin to heal and reach the best in us or at least reach who we really are by unconcealing ourselves and placing ourselves in the Openness of the truth. We could still think in terms of efficiency as a beautiful aspect of technology, but that would not be the only consideration. If we would think in terms of a poiesis, our techne (i.e. technology) could go back into thinking about the rhythms of the earth. Our progress would stop isolating ourselves from that which sustains us, physis. As physis, which creates for itself by itself, we could reach a poiesis which creates ­for others in consideration of other beings as these being poetic themselves too.

This new perception is vitally important if we do not want to fall into a mindless, a merely mechanical and mimetic, technological society that uses and discards everything at its disposal for the benefit of a few. The poetic brings forth the unique of every being. It would bring us closer to physis and to ourselves because we are physis, i.e. Nature as the Being of beings that can create through poiesis a techne (e.g. the technological or even art).[9] The philosopher Martin Heidegger in his essay What Are Poets For? interprets Rainer Maria Rilke’s “improvised verses” that speak about Nature as physis, a bringing forth or “that which arises.” Heidegger makes the distinction clear between Nature as in the natural sciences and Nature as life or being. See Heidegger, Poetry, Language, Thought (New York: Harper & Row, 1971), 98-9. That is the reason I use the word physis rather than nature because physis is a bringing forth by itself for itself, not just a repetitive biological process. For me, physis means something that arises through a creative love by itself for itself such as giving birth to a child. Although the process could be similar in some ways, each child is unique. Therefore, we are physis too but one that can create in the same way physis does but instead of creating by itself for itself, we create for another in a poiesis. To read more detail about physis, poiesis, and techne read the following post:  Where does the word poetry come from?

This means that physis through poiesis brings us closer to ourselves, to that aspect of ourselves that transcends our narrow vision.  It brings us closer to truth, to an unveiling that leads to revelations. For example someone, preyed by a devious belief system without even acknowledging it, can be closed to another’s perspective. Poetry, as a soft light that illuminates through truth, can poke a hole in that narrow tunnel and open up possibilities through imagination and metaphor that could be otherwise closed to that person forever.  The reason poetry can do this is that poetry is not a debate (e.g. philosophical argumentation). Poetry is one of the few things that can subtly shine a light into an obscured mindset and leave “our unprotected being into the Open” so we can heal our being and even reach the holy (i.e. wholeness).  That Open, for the poet Rainer Maria Rilke, does not mean an open space or sky as an object but

“an indescribably open freedom which perhaps has its (extremely fleeting) equivalent among us in those first moments of love when one human being sees his own vastness in another.“[10] Heidegger, Poetry, Language, Thought, 105.

This means that because of seeing such vastness in another being, we poietize. This being is beautiful or sublime because we reach the hidden love and unconceal it in its everydayness and mundanity in such a way we can unconceal love even to our garbage. Thus, poetry is really important in our lives because it puts us in unconditional communication with the Open, i.e. our creative love, that which can also be called Nature, Life, and even Being of beings. Therefore this wholeness, through a poiesis, can be

“boundlessly flowing into one another and thus acting toward another.“[11] Heidegger, Poetry, Language, Thought, 122.

This boundlessly flowing is the creative love.  If one is able to experience and perceive this love, one is being poetry. By being poetry, one is able to transcend the objectification and resist the call to mimetic production. It is by this constantly renewed perception that one can reach the “invisible innermost of the heart“[12] Heidegger, Poetry, Language, 125. where one loves without objectification.  If one becomes aware (i.e. explicates or unfolds) such love, then the creative aspect of that love frees us (i.e. physis) to let us reach a boundless giveness that is a creative loving and  that also is a boundless receiving as we are being creatively loved.

That said, by reaching the “invisible innermost of the heart” we are being not idealists or falling into Romanticism because that innermost is the heart of the cosmos with its calculative consciousness as much as it is the heart of ourselves with our boundless imagination. Creative love is not internal, but a constantly ‘intersubjective’ giving and receiving but without objectification as the philosopher Martin Heidegger writes:

“Here everything is inward … but inside this interior, one thing turns, free of all bounds, into the other.“[13] Heidegger, Poetry, Language, Thought, 128.

By turning into the other, there is no longer an internal or external that leads us to objectification.  It is an interior that turns into the other in a permeated wholeness, such as a piece of fruit that becomes me as I eat it or as my ideas as they become another person’s idea after I translate it into paper. If the blurry lines between ourselves and the other become explicit enough to dissolve our desire to objectify mindlessly, then perhaps we can begin our journey into becoming poetic and reach the creative love physis and poiesis provide.

As we can see, poetry is important not only because it is the representation of our images, dreams, and ideas that shows us ourselves. It is important because physis is a poiesis and our poiesis is within the boundaries of physis. If we become aware of this, then perhaps we can trace our paths toward truth and freedom (i.e. the Open), not only beauty, as we become aware more and more that we vitally need to be poetry, a creatively loving existence.

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