Archive for the ‘Quote of the Day’ Category
I am going to say another thing which may seem strange to you at the moment, but which I have been taught by long experience, something that has value not only for philosophy but for all the sciences, for everything which in the strict sense of the term is theoretic. It is this: when anyone approaches science for the first time, the best way of easing him into it and of making clear to him what he is undertaking would be to say, “Do not seek to be convinced by what you are going to hear and what you are told to think; do not take this so seriously, but treat it like a game in which you are invited to observe the rules.”
We could say…that “solitude” is the occasional seclusion each person needs, in which he or she makes up the creative contributions that can only come into existence through individual persons and their imaginations. “Isolation” is society’s refusal of these contributions, such that the person is left to himself: a sort of prison without walls. The internal exile of being disregarded, of being given no role. Isolation must be turned into solitude…Solitude is like the forest clearing where someone draws from the spring, ancient symbol of inspiration, gaining the creativity that can only originate from individuals, though its results must be tested and developed in community. We all have our ways of attempting to do this and achieving it to one degree or another. But here the key reality is poetry. When we turn isolation into solitude by being creative and seeking ways to make this the basis of social life, we are poets. And poetry in the specific sense, the art of verse, is the most complete, concentrated version of the universal inspiration, the human demand to exercise our own productive powers and to make them effective in the public realm.
This may seem a strong statement. But one implication of it needs to be made even stronger. Poetry is not at all what it’s often said to be, the indulgence, development, and expression of private inward life. This is one of those half-truths that is the worst error, even a lie. Poetry is inward self-development plus the insistence that this must have a principal place in the public forum plus a third thing, a conclusion that flows from the first two. Everyone must be allowed full personal development, and everyone must be allowed full participation, since only full participation leads to full personal development, and in turn a proper society can only be produced by full development of each member. Poetry is, above every other human endeavor, the place where person and society are not merely joined but revealed in their original unity. Poetry is the place where the strange, painful division we have created between person and society is suffered, despaired over, denounced, subjected to comparison with memories and dreams and myths of better times, and given the gift of a prophecy: that the proper unity still and always persists, and that it can become the world we actually live in, not just in verse, but on both sides of our front door.
The whole age can be divided into those who write and those who do not write. Those who write represent despair, and those who read disapprove of it and believe that they have a superior wisdom—and yet, if they were able to write, they would write the same thing. Basically, they are all equally despairing, but when one does not have the opportunity to become important with his despair, then it is hardly worth the trouble to despair and show it.
I do not think of my relatives, friends, neighbors, colleagues, acquaintances, as masses; we none of us can or do. The masses are always the others, whom we don’t know, and can’t know. Yet now, in our kind of society, we see those others regularly, in their myriad variations, stand, physically, beside them. They are here and we are here with them. And that we are with them is of course the whole point. To the other people, we also are masses. Masses are other people.