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Reading Response #2
After reading Czeslaw Milosz's anthology of poems, A Book of Luminous Things, I found that I had made comments in my notebook about many of the poems in the “Secret of a Thing” section. I reflected and realized that all of these poems had something to do with the nature of reality, and lenses through which the different poets could see the world. All of these poems discuss some perspective on reality.
Rolf Jacobsen's “Cobalt” introduced anthropomorphic forms of colors as real entities. Each of them had a personality and even personal connections: “I'm very close to young Crimson, and brown Sienna/ but even closer to thoughtful Cobalt with her distant eyes and/ untrampled spirit.” Through this socially artistic view of reality, the universe is very much alive. Metaphors can be as solid in the mind as the flesh of other human beings. Although not a healthy way to view the world, it has great potential in all forms of art.
One of these poems, William Blake's excerpt from “Milton,” I reacted rather violently to – I did not take to it at all. The poem essentially stated that whatever reality an individual interprets is the correct and superior one, that the Earth is flat if a person sees it so. This has been the mentality of many an arrogant and unsavory people I have known. Furthermore, the way the “the world is flat because everyone can see it so” flavor of the poem is personally affronting: I have never seen this world as flat, and cannot relate to anyone who sees it so. Through this, we can see the essential wrongness of William Blake's arrogant perspective: there isn't any room for other perspectives.
My favorite amongst such poems was Wislawa Szymborska's “View With a Grain of Sand.” This poem works to separate our human perspectives on the world from the world itself through passages which illustrate anti-metaphors about objects: “Time has passed like a courier with urgent news./ But that's just our simile.” While this poem may seem cynical or aspiritual, the intention was to attack the clichés surrounding poetry. Wislawa may have seen the repetition of tired metaphors and similes artistically stagnating. I connected to this poem because of my interest in fiction. If you have ever been to a bookstore, you would know that fiction is organized by 'genre', which means “A familiar plot with clichéd elements.” Science fiction, for instance, is an oxymoron: “Science” means facts but “fiction” means non-facts – or lies, if you are feeling vindictive. Thus, “fantasy” and “fiction” would also mean the same thing. Even on the language level, our systems of genre doesn't make any sense, but we still perpetuate the system. Even the “classic” genres, horror, romance, and mystery don't stand up to critical examination: any work can include elements of which evoke feelings of horror and mystery (and they should, in my opinion), and romance also means “lies.” If William Averagefellow wants to go to the bookstore, he will be buying lies, lies, lies, or a coffee-table photo-book about the Beatles. Fantastic. I can feel the creative energy of my predecessors billowing forth unto my generation, and it feels like a warm Pacific wave tingling of hopes and dreams.
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I really like how I broke into Daria mode at the end there.
Oh, and my lylat email isn't working, so I'm not getting comment notifications. I got a mysterious email claiming that my box was over 90% capacity, and that I should delete some stuff if I wanted to recieve any email. This is nonsense, though: there's nothing in the stupid box. In any case, I'm not recieving comment notifications, so... yeah.