Poetry

city Poetry…when you hear or read that word how does it make you feel? For some it ignites pleasure, for others it simply conjures up memories of bad days in literature class. I for one am a big fan of poetry. I read it, write it, record it, video it, sense it in my surroundings.
Try if you dare and ask someone when it was that they last read a poem and many will solicit an expression as though you have just stepped out from a Victorian novel… for not everyone may feel or regard the merits of the poem.

So, I have taken the liberty of offering up to you one of my own pieces originally published in Digital Americana Magazine (May 2011). It is titled…

Do Great Women Vacuum?

Each morning
Riding the number 32 bus
I see angels
Going to work

They step down
Leaving behind rose
And lavender scents
That cling to my skirt

Their starched uniforms
Melt into gray mornings
Till only a bleached silhouette
Fades into each house

And at night
When they return home
They continue to vacuum
Their ordinary lives

***
Which brings me to day’s blog; as you can imagine is about Poetry; whereby I put forward to you a moment to contemplate the words of our 19th century philosopher, Arthur Schopenhauer. From portions of his essay Aesthetics of Poetry, let us read and break from our hectic day…

Authur Schopoeneur “ As the simplest and most correct definition of poetry, I would call it the art of exciting by words the power of the imagination…Because the reader’s imagination is the material in which poetic art represents its pictures, this had the advantage that the more special execution and finer traits so appear in each one’s imagination, as is at the most suitable to his individuality, his sphere of cognition, and his humor, and hence affect him in a most lively manner…but how infallibly a beautiful melody touching the heart travels around the world, and an excellent poem wanders from people to people…To delight the ear with its sounds, seems its whole destiny, and, having done this, everything seems to be accomplished and every claim satisfied. That it, at the same time, conveys a meaning, expresses a thought, proves, as it were, an unexpected addition, like the words to music, an unexpected gift, pleasantly surprising us, and because we made no claims of this sort, very easily satisfying us…”

Esteemed thinker-Arthur Schopenhauer and Beauty

beauty Every day we are bombarded by advertisements, commercials, and conversations that tell us what is beautiful. Initially, we conduct our own analysis however; many of our beliefs are often tailored and altered by the opinions and so- called expert advice of others. As a result, many find themselves questioning and doubting their own interpretation and definition of “beauty”.

Today’s blog will focus our attention towards Arthur Schopenhauer and his thoughts extracted from his Third Book: The World as Idea, as he presents us with his notion of Beauty. So, you may ask…”just who is this guy?” Well, to be brief… Authur Schopenhauer (1788-1860) was a 19th century philosopher who grew up in Germany. Among many of his ideas, he advocated ways to overcome painful human conditions through artistic, moral, and ascetic forms of awareness. He questioned and contemplated, “What is the function of art, of the value of the arts for human life…” Because of his independent thinking and contributions, he has been credited with presenting his ideas in a more profound way than his predecessors, resulting in having a great impact on the poets, composers, and the “common man (and woman)” of his time.

Now, let us now take pause to read some of his words about “beauty”.

Authur Schopoeneur “… When we say that a thing is beautiful, we thereby assert that it is an object of our aesthetic contemplation, and this has a double meaning; on one hand, it means that the sight of the thing makes us objective, that is to say, that in contemplating it we are no longer conscious of ourselves as individuals, but as pure will-less subjects of knowledge; and on the other hand, it means that we recognize in the object, not the particular thing, but an Idea … Therefore it is that man is more beautiful than all of other objects, and the revelation of his nature is the highest aim of art. Human form and expression are the most important objects of plastic art, and human action the most important object of poetry. … “

Heroism and Memorial Day go hand- in- hand

Memorial Day draws us closer to those who have given the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom and democracy; their lives. Words often do not give justice to the thanks and gratitude we feel and wish to offer these great women and men of the armed forces. As we enter into reflection, a characteristic that comes into our minds is Heroism; a word that we can define with both commonalities and personal experiences; rediscovered when we unite together or rekindled within our own private solitude.

Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote about Heroism; here are some of his words that grants recognition as we pay tribute to our fallen heroes.

Our_Banner_in_the_Sky_1861 “…Self-trust is the essence of heroism. It is the state of the soul at war, and its ultimate objects are the last defiance of falsehood and wrong, and the power to bear all that can be inflicted by evil agents. It speaks the truth, and is just, generous, hospitable, temperate, scornful of petty calculations, and scornful of being scorned. It persists; it is of an undaunted boldness, and of a fortitude not to be wearied out…these men (and women) fan the flame of human love, and raise the standard of civil virtue among mankind. …”

With these words from Emerson and those from our hearts, let us pay tribute to our fallen soldiers and pay homage to their valor.

Ralph Waldo Emerson’s thoughts on history

The nature of our spirit can be seen as a connection of events collected through time. To this writer an essential element in the development of creating idea, either consciously or unconsciously, is urged along by the products of the past… “history”!

In my earlier blogs I offered to the reader what Bertrand Russell had to say on the matter of “history”. Today we will lend Ralph Waldo Emerson a moment of our time.

history Greek “There is one mind common to all individual men. Every man is an inlet to the same and to all the same. He that is once admitted to the right of reason is made a freeman of the whole estate. What Plato has thought, he may think; what a saint has felt, he may feel; what at any time has befallen any man, he can understand. …Of the works of this mind history is the record. Its genius is illustrated by the entire series of days. Man is explicable by nothing less than all his history. Without hurry, without rest, the human spirit goes forth from the beginning to embody every faculty, every thought, every emotion, which belongs to it in appropriate events…This human mind wrote history, and this must read it. The Sphinx must solve her own riddle. If the whole of history is in one man, it is all to be explained from individual experience. There is a relation between the hours of our life and the centuries of time. As the air I breathe is drawn from that great repositories of nature, as the light on my book is yielded by a star a hundred millions of miles distant, as the poise of my body depends on the equilibrium of centrifugal and centripetal forces, so the hours should be instructed by the ages, and the ages explained by the hours…Each new fact in his private experience flashes a light on what great bodies of men have done, and the crises of his life refer to national crises. Every revolution was first a thought in one man’s mind, and when the same thought occurs to another man, it is the key to that era…

Ralph Waldo Emerson: Looking at circles beyond the obvious

circle The term circle generally conjures up images of a simple geometric shape; it denotes a plane enclosed figure whose boundary (the circumference) consists of points equidistant from a fixed center. But if we think of a circle in more abstract terms, we can go beyond; for aren’t thoughts a trail of interrelated ideas? Not linear, but linked so they can reconnect; hence…like a circle.

Today this writer will introduce or reintroduce to you, Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1870), the central figure in his literary and philosophical group, now known as the American Transcendentalists. He looked at “circles” in a most eloquent way, which I find worthy of contemplation. So…I have taken the liberty of extracting pieces from his essay into a reflection for this day’s blog.

“The eye is the first circle; the horizon which it forms is the second; and throughout nature this primary figure is repeated without an end…Our life is an apprenticeship of the truth, that around every circle another can be drawn; that there is no end in nature, but every end is a beginning that there is always another dawn risen on mid-noon, and under every deep a lower deep opens…Every ultimate fact is only the first of a new series. Every general law only a particular fact of some more general law presented to disclose itself. ..The key to every man is thought. Sturdy and defying though he look, he has a helm which he obeys, which is the idea after which all his facts are classified. He can only be reformed by showing him a new idea which commands his own. The life of man is a self-evolving circle, which, from a ring imperceptibly small, rushes on all sides outwards to new and larger circles, and that without end… “

Bertrand Russell on Belief

When we read from the passages of esteemed thinkers, we reflect upon ourselves, our world, and what we are doing in it. In this spirit we decide if we want to make room in our own philosophy for such perspectives and in doing so we consider our individual “beliefs”. Such a term, belief, is riddled with metrics and questions that can take us into another sticky territory… “what is truth” … (which goes far beyond today’s blog.)

Here is a bit of Bertrand Russell on belief, which to this blogger is worthy of a moment’s reflection.

Bertrand russell _2 “… When we survey our beliefs, we find that we hold different beliefs with very different degrees of conviction. Some-such as the belief that I am sitting in a chair, or that 2+2=4 can be doubted by few except those who have had a long training in philosophy. Such beliefs are held so firmly that non- philosophers who deny them are put into lunatic asylums. Other beliefs, such as the facts of history, are held rather less firmly, but still in the main without much doubt where they are well authenticated. Beliefs about the future, as that the sun will rise tomorrow and the trains will run approximately as in Bradshaw, may be held with almost as great conviction as beliefs about the past. Scientific laws are generally believed less firmly, and there is a gradation among them such as seems nearly certain to such as have only a slight probability in their favor. Philosophical beliefs, finally, will, with most people, take a still lower place, since the opposite beliefs of others can hardly fail to induce doubt. Belief, therefore, is a matter of degree. To speak of belief, disbelief, doubt, and suspense of judgment as the only possibilities is as if, from the writing on the thermometer, we were to suppose that blood heat, summer heat, temperate, and freezing were the only temperatures. This is a continuous gradation in belief, and the more firmly we believe anything, the less willing we are to abandon it in the case of conflict…”

Bertrand Russell and the ‘utility’ of history

History is read, viewed, and even dismissed for a variety of reasons; all of which would be too cumbersome to analyze in brevity. However, I offer up to you the words of Philosopher Bertrand Russell, who suggests quite succinctly, “History is valuable, to begin with, because it is true; and this, though not the whole of its value, is the foundation and condition of all the rest…”

Today’s blog reflects on the “utility” of history; a term coined by Russell… (The term ‘utility” I find most fascinating; for it is not often exercised in regards to the study of history.) So, in the words of Mr. Russell, let us begin…

PH00873 “ … Another and a greater utility, however, belongs also to history. It enlarges the imagination, and suggests possibilities of action and feeling which would not have occurred to an uninstructed mind. It selects from past lives the elements which were significant and important; it fills our thoughts with splendid examples, and with the desire for greater ends than unaided reflection would have discovered. It makes visible and living the growth and greatness of nations, enabling us to extend our hopes beyond the span of our own lives. In all these ways, a knowledge of history is capable of giving statesmanship, and to our daily thoughts, a breadth and scope unattainable by those whose view is limited to the present…”