Friday, August 10, 2012

Here are Some Words

There are months where there isn't a single word in me. I should be more specific. During those months, there isn't a single idea-kernel, not a single nucleation point for ideas, no nub on which to hang a bunch of clothes, no idea with "legs". It is just a fact of life: there are long cycles and short cycles of suffering and redemption. Maybe I have been trained too thoroughly to see the narrative in this fluctuation. Maybe. But to that, I have this to say: life was never about meaning; it was always about meaningfulness--the felt experience of "I get it", or "I am getting somewhere" or "I am solidifying", or "I am changing". So of course we feel empty when it fades. But maybe it fades in preparation for something.

What's the point of this? I think what I am trying to get across is that I have to accept the winters, the midnights of the soul for what they are: lessons to be learned at a bunch of different levels, and sometimes lessons I am not ready to learn. Those strike like thunderclaps. Sometimes I am too solidified; sometimes I am too fluid. Rilke says it better than I ever could (Sonnets to Orpheus, Part II, 29) (Snow translation):

"Silent friend of the many distances,
feel how your every breath enlarges space.
Amid the rafters of dark belfries
let yourself peal. Whatever feeds on you

is taking strength from such fare.
Know every path through transformation.
That one experience at the core of your sorrow?
If drinking is bitter, become wine.

Now in this night of fire and excess
be the magic power at your senses' crossroads,
the meaning of their strange encounter.

And if the earthly should forget you,
say to the silent loam: I flow.
To the rushing waters speak: I am."

Consider: "that last strophe has been described as "one of the greatest instances of absolute utterance in all of poetry". I don't know what "absolute utterance" is supposed to mean, but I agree with the "greatest" part."


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