A Poet's Spirit



Poem:            Chloë on Titan

Attention: this music that I use as a background to my poem was found on a web page with a video of a probe landing on Titan.  Now, I can no longer find that page!  Does anyone know whose music this is ?     Thanks, Leo 


 Essay:


"The Re-Introduction of Revelation to The World" 

What “the World” needs is a map.  What kind of map?


  • The scientific method has given us a map of the physical world. This map cannot tell us how to behave, this map cannot tell us right from wrong, this map cannot tell the difference between good and evil. This map is good for describing people and natural forces as machines and predicting what these machine-like models will do.


  • Every nation in the world has given itself a map of how people should live together in that nation called a Constitution. These maps are good for ordering the relationships between people working together in the economy and in the government and such.


I personally affirm from my own experience and inner reason the validity and virtues of the map of the physical universe made by the scientific method and the map of the political realities of men assembled to govern themselves provided by the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States.


  • But what is needed is a bigger map.  what the world needs is a map big enough  that all of the other maps of the world can be held up  to it for orientation. 


Back in ancient times the biggest map people used was called religion.


But religion grew as a bundle of maps  made of different kinds of things by different kinds of people and they gathered up into a big bundle which when you looked at it  from the distance as if it were one big pile...


... suggested the outline of a brand-new creature or  contraption in which everything all the parts and pieces were imagined as if they went together.


In Reality Religions and their holy books were encyclopedias of how to live your life farming, hunting, making laws and enforcing laws, and how to deal with each other. And over the centuries legal systems, education systems, political systems, even traditions of music and psychology have been invented and have evolved to take over these various jobs from religion in a secular way to do than even better.


  • But the one job none of these new secular schools of thought have been able to take over effectively is the job that’s the main job of religion which is to give the human heart the big picture of what it is to be alive in the universe and how to tell good from bad.


Now I am going to suggest something very amazing! 


  • I think the job of getting the big picture about life comes from poetry


I believe poetry is actually a natural process of the human mind and heart and imagination working together with some deep current coming up from deep within to create   poetry which is a language made snapshot of our heartfelt  suspicion of what the big picture is whether we are writing poetry that is “epic poetry” or poetry that is “a snapshot of a moment in time”.


Religious poetry has called its self  “Revelation” and given itself the authority of coming from God. That is of course a human way of saying “my revelation is better than your revelation because it is not just poetry it comes from somebody else - not just me!”


Because the scientific method is so successful at removing God from the universe it seems that there is no way for a person to say “my poetry is not just poetry but revelation from heaven and should be believed”.


This catastrophe of faith edged toward poetry tore poetry down from its function in society as a creation of a map and a compass  to merely serving merely as a voice expressing a love of fancy language and venting raptures of the moment.


It’s time for the human race to grow up.


The human race has always had the means of telling which poems were revelations and which poems were merely entertainments.


How is this done? 


Simply because a people find that poems that are useful as revelations can be used as map and compass giving revelations - and over the generations the status of that poem is raised to that of a Revelation in usefulness if nor social respect. Look at Shakespeare, lookout Dante, look at Milton, look at Blake, look at how many poets who are not given the status of being religious leaders who nevertheless given us all of humanity language in which we can understand our soul and a map of the cosmos we live in.


What I am saying is we simply must do what is necessary to do and that is self-consciously return to poetry and poets for the map of heaven and earth and good and evil.


It has become fashionable in the last century is to trivialize the arts, to make the arts simply commercial products, or simply a platform for egotism.


And it is so convenient for the artist not to carry the responsibility for speaking for others even to the degree of one soldier in a phalanx fighting to uphold the line which must carry all must all fall. Hey, if I write a poem that fails, I can say “Hey it was just a poem!”


But human beings get better the more they do something, human beings when they know that people are depending on them try harder and  succumb less often to self-indulgence and simply giving up before the goal is achieved.


I am simply saying that societies must become self-aware that Revelations come from poets and poets must be cultivated to create revelations that have some possible merit in leaning society into the near future and then did the future of mankind. 


If we are to leave describing the Universe to Scientists, then we must with respect, turn over Mythology and Cosmos building to Poets.


In a way poetry of Revelation is a kind of near future science fiction.


But near future science fiction is written to entertain with speculation and not carrying the seriousness of the intention necessary to say” I’m making a map here, I’m offering a compass here, what do you think?”


In ancient Rome every man flattered himself that he was a logical being but at the same time developing the arts of rhetoric by which he swayed other human beings by appealing to their passions and short-circuiting their logic. 


Human beings exist in the matrix of their hopes and fears about themselves in the future. The poetry of Revelation is like the near future science fiction that sees the travail of humanity and appeals to the whole person and non-rational and rational and uses the sincerity of their own struggle to create the poet who can give such a revelation in poetry as that engine that drives them to be more than just a fiction writer but someone deserving to give birth to the biggest kind of map the human heart is able to design.


I am saying we must rediscover revelation we must rediscover the tools of manufacture of Revelation and respect for revelation and ratification of my proof and testing of Revelation.


Poets are represented in modern culture as the most self-indulgent selfish and untrained of people. In fact they can be and must again become the most disciplined, unselfish, and universally educated and self trained people so they, like Blake, can struggle to give birth to a new horizon tradition one that goes beyond your reason one that hopes to point to the Star under which the future will be born.

 © Leo Rivers 2013