Inside out and upside down

After a computer crash my view of the world takes a turn, or maybe not. Maybe my view of myself takes a shivering dive saying, “back up, stupid.” There is strangeness to the implication of having so much of your life on a computer and so a crash is similar to perhaps the house burning down. But is it really, or is this idea based on fear? Serious data retrieval from a “broken” hard drive costs 1000.00 and up, so I am told. Some sites claim to do it for less than half that amount.

If you have to deal with this occurrence you better have another computer around like I did. Even with one the time it takes to rescue projects in new software is frustrating. You’d better have 5 to 10 years experience with your operating system to keep the learning curve down.

I am more interested in the metaphorical aspect of “lives being on computers” and the words we say, and whether or not we recognize that what we say could be metaphorical. What we say can also be an expression of our beliefs, beliefs that can be a represented in our reality.

It took most of the day yesterday for the weather to change. It is so nice it could be compared to a drug. The urgency and planning and worries seem to float away when the air is drier, and the nights are cooler so I can appreciate the sun. It’s also only a few weeks away from September. (September used to be the telling of the season change when frosts would arrive by Sept 10th. That was in the seventies when I think the first talk of global warming or climate change occurred. Now frosts can be as late as late October). I was beginning to merge with some kind of muse I think. I looked down at a leaf in the driveway and it struck me for the color. Drab for the most part but there were little spots of a green like paint, emerald, something other than leaf, and the veins where copper and almost iridescent. These things do not always photograph well.

As people, as humans, we have an awareness that seems to set us apart from the rest of the beings on Earth. Our senses are the same as the animals in the wild but somewhere along the way we developed a greater use of memory, of reasoning, and this list could grow. Each of us could add something and we could debate the differences and ramifications of our consciousness.

Simply considered, perhaps to uses general terms for the purposes of discussion, it could be said that our “ideas” are what most make us unique. Ideas are like music.

Ideas, perspectives, perceptions, reflections, and representations, look at how vast a realm we have in a handful of words. It would seem that all literature, art, and philosophy by nature are involved with expressions of ideas like these.

When studying visual art as a student, such as drawing, fairly early on we learn about perspective. The vanishing point allows us to express representations of the experience of seeing when we are making pictures. It has been used to separate periods or styles of art into primitive and what, realism or so-called realistic forms. The western form of perspective was probably an invention of the renaissance, but there are oriental perspectives that can give us a different perception of perspective.

As an example, a vanishing point can be placed in the foreground rather than in the distance. This method could be correlated to an idea or philosophy that places value on the center of the body or individual, or certain “chakra” as a central point of energy that can be expressed in design. This idea, this philosophy implies that as a being one should be conscious of ones center and attract energy to it. This idea maintains that one develop the senses, the bodily strength as a complete awareness so our senses and our mind thereby perceive all that is around us in relationship to how we behave in the world.

This concept can be seen in the design of Japanese craftsman tools such as a fine hand saw used for cutting joinery that is pulled toward the user when cutting.

When one thinks about it, this concept is not unlike our breath, an autonomic function that brings energy into our body.

I am inspired by reading Borges, This Craft of Verse, chapter 2 The Metaphor, and chapter 5, Thought and Poetry. Borges is so comprehensive that reading what are short transcriptions from tapes of lectures about language and writing can only make one think from new perspectives. Borges speaks of poetry as having a duality, where words are to serve for something beyond their intended use. It is not always necessary to find meaning in the words. There sound, their color, need not even make sense in terms of a meaning, yet we understand what the feeling of the poem.

Borges mentions Lugones, the Argentine poet from the early twentieth century, who set out to find new metaphors. Lugones thought poets of the day were always using the same metaphors. He also puts forth the brilliant idea that all words were once metaphors.

These notions become, in my mind, something that I can only describe as visual. That perhaps when we read poetry we get to experience ideas and thoughts from the inside out.

I have a feeling that it may be that all reading is a stimulus for new ideas, new expressions. After all we are sharing with a writer his inner substance, his precious prayers and reflections, or his anger, what he or she holds as some kind of beauty.

The idea of perspectives being drawn from the foreground, might seem backward to someone who learned the structure of the vanishing point. Upside down; It doesn’t look right. If you study just a little bit of cybernetics you discover that we have our way of seeing, that gives us depth of field. From our two eyes side by side, we have depth perception, or we might suggest that we see a representation of space. Cover one eye and we have no depth perception. Birds have two focal points in each eye so their comprehension of depth is created in only one eye.

I think Schopenhauer considered “ideas” a re-presentation of objects in space, an artful expression and that music was the purest form of art (The World as Will and Representation). He was so impressed by the philosophy of the Upanishads that he called them “the production of the highest human wisdom” and a great source of inspiration. Object and subject exist together and so we are part of the universe, not separated from it. In his time, man was dissecting everything dead to learn about life, but at the same time creating an exclusivity, a separateness. So, imagine the inspiration Schopenhauer felt when he read the early translations of Hindu philosophy which have an inclusive view of the universe.

Some theories in modern physics put forth that everything down to cells and particles seem to have memory, seem to have a form of consciousness. (The Tao of Physics) Even though there is debate regarding cell memory and particle will or consciousness in science, is not imagination the beginning of possibility? Voice is the purest form of spirit, someone can tell you something by speaking and it can change your mind. I once had a therapist tell me my father was not emotionally responsible. That changed my mind and my life. I could only describe it as being like the gears turning in a clock, and then something shifted as if long-standing questions answered and pieces to puzzles fit. Words on a page are graphic representations of a voice. Do not we hear when we read?

When writers create abstract styles, forms, lyrics, and we read their words, it is like listening to a new music, new perceptions are triggered, new comprehension that we don’t really understand at first, as if some new equation has been introduced into our mind, all from our ability to read words, we can experience new perspectives, new reflections, new ideas. When I begin a novel, it takes me a few pages to get the pace, the manner of speaking, and then I can be captured.

Perceptions vary because some of us are visual thinkers and to us many things are not linear but spacial. Others among us are sequential thinkers. We may have more affinity with poetry or for images than repetitions. Words are made of letters and letters have evolved from pictures, representations of sound, sounds representing ideas. Or ideas representing sounds? How do we describe visual art? How do we describe music? It has to be experienced, don’t you know.

I recently learned that Frank Zappa actually had a visual concept of music. His vision gave him great abilities for compositions. He was loved by many but did not gain quite as much fame or popularity because he was different and his great wit touched even contemporary popular artists. The interesting thing is that he gave us an idea of music as beginning with a visual form, existing in space (wavelengths?). Something Beethoven probably would have appreciated. Schopenhauer thought that music was the only art that did not merely copy ideas, but actually embodied the will itself.

I have to wrap this up. Somehow I began with Borges talking about language in poetry. How we feel the beauty of a poem before we begin to think of a meaning. Through diversity in ideas, we learn to be aware of different perspectives and new representations. Plato asked, “Now, what would Socrates have said about this particular doubt of mine?” I want to encourage readers on my wavelength here, to be open to all that comes your way in this our visual world of sounds. Listen to your inside when reading a new poem. Understanding that you are in the universe and the universe is in you may seem as corny as it sounds but if you can imagine a picture of what that might mean to you, then you might be moving closer to it, see the beauty in the ten thousand things, understand the five elements theory without remembering every element, come to read a poem and see its shape, feel its vibration, walk in its space without knowing its description.


The life of metaphor.

met/a •phora n. a figure of speech containing an implied comparison, in which a word or phrase ordinarily and primarily used of one thing is applied to another.

In This Craft of Verse chapter two, Jorge Luis Borges cites the Argentine poet Lugones as saying, “every word is a dead metaphor.” According to Bruges this appeared in the forward to Lunario Sentimental, an eclectic, and evidently scandalous in its time, “volume of poetry, short stories, and plays by Leopoldo Lugones (1874-1938) that revolve around the theme of the moon.”

There is much to find about Lugones, and what Borges writes about his work, but I want to look at the statement, which appears in the chapter Metaphor, in This Craft of Verse. I think the chapter and this statement is inspiring.

Think of it, abstractly speaking, every word is, in a sense, originally a metaphor. Something to consider. (Borges says “consider” originally meaning “being with the stars,” “making a horoscope.”) That we have to forget that words were metaphors, is one of an imaginative or creative repositioning, that art is all about. This is what struck me, what I think is so interesting about Brushstrokes and glances by Djelloul Marbrook.

Take for example imagining the beginning of language, wherever it may have been, very early man painting on cave walls, then vocalizing their experience, describing things by implied comparison. For me, the nature of reading poetry, the experience conjures up realizations, emotions, evokes spirit. When read or recited aloud some would say words become spirit. It is why yogic knowledge or teaching was and is spoken, whispered, if you will, into the devotees ear.

But I don’t want to get side tracked by Vedas, actually an early form of poetry, just as Rap has it’s roots in slave poetry and song. We must accept verse as something ancient and valuable, nothing new. Art and poetry together have a history and place in the exchange of ideas.

The abstract is something to keep in mind when contemplating the origins of words and metaphor, which, with this statement by Lugones, hit me as a desirable escape from the mundane, and an example of the wonderful power of reading, to inspire. Even as a foundation for other art forms such as painting, metaphor is rich, especially when it is fresh and stimulating (in 1909 Lugones “wrote that he thought poets were always using the same metaphors. . .”) so readers of poetry enjoy finding writers that stimulate the mind with new and interesting language.

I know I sound like I am blowing my own horn here, but in fact I am taking another opportunity to mention why I like Djelloul Marbrook’s writing, and why I published his book Brushstrokes and glances. His is a fresh new voice. And I won’t go on and on trying to describe it, but please, if you don’t find enough about it on our website, visit Djelloul’s blog.

You can now purchase our books directly at our web site.

Let me also say how grateful I am for the wonderfully art embellished review by Tom Holmes on The Line Break.