Whereas in the past greatness was identified with asceticism and virtue, an ability to resist and will, in our days the ideal has shifted towards a life of entertainment, consumption, and laisser-allez, one identified cynicism and vice. What was admired was the man who was able to raise himself above himself, to overcome and control himself, whereas now, a voice hums in his ear, telling him to suckle all he can from the bosom of this moment, for that is all he can ever hope to have.
In a dictatorship or a totalitarian regime the election is only formal, and serves the purpose of giving popular legitimacy to the system in place without allowing any fundamental change to the policies and forces of governance. A people’s belief in the election would actually hinder any real change, and only preserve the status quo and power balance of the system. In Lebanon, any election will be ineffectual in bringing any real change, since the country is governed by an oligarchy of sects, and the actual power is concentrated not in the parliament and not in the cabinet of ministers but in around six sectarian men, with each having his own external alliances and his own internal agenda. The oligarchy is as powerful as the central government is weak and ineffectual. The current political system incubates corruption as a way to survive and to proliferate itself. The current political system recognizes no citizenship and no sovereign individuals, but only subjects who must be used as fuel for war among themselves. In Lebanon there are no left and right parties, but only a form of tribalism that calls itself a democracy. So long as people believe in the illusion and do not stand in solidarity with each other around a shared ideal, change will be impossible.
People are avoidant by nature; they dislike taking responsibility for their lives and actions. And because they don’t take charge, they feel, as a result, and subconsciously, that their lives are not going the way they want. This breeds inner pestilence and it becomes easy to get angry over trivial things. The energy resulting from a feeling of dissatisfaction and lack of control needs continual discharge, so things are invented over which to get angry, and life in certain areas grows dark and poisonous. Many people, philosophies, religions, epochs, curse existence as a result of this. Many people need hate and anger to survive.
Words, they are the geological forces of the soul, pushing against the toughest and most deeply imbedded boundaries and structures, with great patience eroding, stretching, pulling, transforming, and giving us the tools to control ourselves, to rise above ourselves and overcome ourselves, and shape our own destinies.
Poets love intensely because they invent their love long before they live it. Their lover is an active fire that brews in the marrow of their soul. Their carnality is an animal ferocity softened, spiritualized and intensified by their imagination and longing. Poets are the animals of the soul.
A little poetic sensibility is enough for you to know that you do not inhabit the same world as that of men. They pass you by as if they were holograms projected from another dimension, barely aware of their immediate surroundings and the intricacy that holds everything together, sways and moves everything to the same rhythm; they pass you by as if they were humans that never completely materialized, remaining half-ghosts, not really aware of the currents and tides of their own bodies, and how these merge with and echo the infinite beauty and chaos of the world outside. A little poetic sensibility goes a long way. You open your eyes, and realize you’ve been blind. You hear, feel, smell and touch as if for the first time. The world is alive. The world, as it is, is spirit, is art, it is poetry.
To see a World in a Grain of SandWilliam Blake
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour.
A summary reading of the history of myths teaches us how religious even the most atheist of us remains; how the religious lives on in us, in our imagination, ideas, impulses, emotions, motives, narratives of life, etc., irrespectively of what our rational mind believes. We remain worshipers in a temple we no longer believe in its existence. We remain idolators of a power in which we ceased to believe, at the very thought of which we cannot hold our laughter, our cynicism — and what is cynicism if not the pain of a wound? We may know a lot more, we moderns, but we feel a lot less and less profoundly, and the world of our feeling, intuition, and imagination has shrunk in proportion to the horizons which our minds have widened. We know no reverence; we are deeply irreverent. The sacred has been expunged from our rational world, and that is a direct correlation with the way we are handling our planet and ourselves.
Not to shrink away from fear, not to rationalize it, hide it, or pretend it isn’t there. To use fear as a way of knowing your weaknesses and strengths, keeping you rooted in reality, as a way to highlight the areas of your life that are asking to grow, to keep you moving on the edge of your life, the edge that is asking you to use up your insight, strength, and imaginative powers, the edge that is sharpening you, allowing you to become the best version of yourself, the person you were meant to be. This is the purpose of fear, and that is the way it should be used by a philosophy that embraces life.
A poet is one who feels and intuits the infinite in the finite, and this from the deepest elevations of his spirit and soul.
Poets and people in whom the spirit is rich and abundant face the danger of feeling excluded and guilty on account of that which makes them rich and unique — because it also excludes them from the company of people and society, and makes the space around them so great that very few could hope or want to traverse it. Learning the usual social skills is doubly more difficult for such people, because, at first sight, it feels for them as though it is a betrayal of the spirit in them, of their uniqueness and idiosyncrasy. But that is necessary if they hope one day to become more than just poets and spiritually rich people — human beings who are full of light and mastery, conquerors of the inner realms and of their lives, a light unto humanity, and also, simply, genuinely and deeply happy people, people whose ability for joy and fulfillment is so much greater than their normal kin could ever fathom or understand.
There will always be unbridgeable gaps between our knowledge and reality. On the force of what, then, does the person fill the gaps and act? Life was not founded on knowledge; and a being in the flux of life does not rely on knowledge primarily to act and react. Knowledge is a step back from life, and therein lies its value. It enables us to understand the emotional and unconscious forces and drives that govern our being in the midst of the action — emotions, forces and drives that have hardened into character — and by doing so it gives us the power of control by enabling subtle shifts in the emotions and drives which, in turn, enables us to change or redefine our character. By bringing unconscious motives to light these change and transform; and a person becomes free when, overtime, he is no longer acting out of them as from a compulsion. He is free, which means that the spectrum of emotions have widened, enabling more control and selection over the course of the action, enabling more ease as his sensory and experiential centers take in the outer and inner experience feeding the loop of his being and drives. He is now able to digest life and experience better and with more cheerfulness, and life is richer, more profound, fulfilling and manifold for it.
The ascetic moralism of religion regarding sex tends to sever it from the sphere of emotions. Sexuality, being repressed, the need for it does not go away, but suffers a degradation and acquires, when it surfaces, an urgency and paroxysm. Much of the modern liberalism in sexuality is precisely such an urgency and paroxysm that does not recognize its origin, is a prolongation of the rift at the heart of the human soul between sexuality and emotion. A man still fighting a ghost who is no longer here.
The morality of religions that stigmatizes certain acts (or ideas of acts) as sin, obstructs the ability of reason to comprehend the dynamics (emotional, social, biologic, etc.) that are affecting the acts and thus hinders any possibility for true understanding and change.
The real significance of the dismantlement of the metaphysical world by the way of Science is that man became isolated and could no longer flow out of himself and find himself rhyming in unity with something bigger and greater than his own petty existence.
My first poetic awakenings came with a re-appropriation of language as the creative vehicle to re-imagine the world. Language, which was dead, had to be revivified. Isolated in a world in which language had lost contact with nature and the non-human space; isolated in a world in which the human intellect and mode of appropriation of reality purged the latter of any extra-human symbols, reducing the whole world and reality to a set of objects manageable and subservient to human and economic ends; isolated in a world where humanity’s triumphant modern moment, the zenith of history, was nonetheless a cover that masked the deep chaos and anxiety moving at its heart; language presented itself to me, a mere word, embraced imaginatively, was enough to reawaken a world overshadowed and forsaken by mankind, was enough to lift me out of my isolation and back into a conversation with nature and the earth in all its elements, that world which we have reduced to mere economic resources. The poem, in its simple, unmovable presence, was a simple but fateful nudge that moved the internal ocean in me.
I want to love with such recklessness that every unrequited fear abandons my heart. On the world’s altar I desire to become what I am, a gift of love.
The poet’s ideal is the very reason for his suffering — he is unable to attain it in his life; oh, but what beauty, in its pursuit, does he make!
We are creating for ourselves a world in which it is impossible to live; and even if life was still physically possible, it would be undesirable.
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Once it is over we’ll discover it — modernity was a big lie. Modernity — an incredibly rich soil that nonetheless did not allow the growth of anything great.
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Thirty six; the year I discovered the truth about myself.
You will not be a stoic unless you favor your strength of will over the passion of your heart.
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Even us poets feel uncomfortable with harboring a poetic vision of the world. That has become a taboo nowadays, something irrational that requires psychotherapy. The secular, the mathematical, the economic — these are the permitted worldviews, all falling under the arch of Science. But one day it will dawn on mankind that there is something of the poetic in science too; that it, too, is a sort of mythology; that it, too, as the poetic, takes a root in unreason, but that it deceives itself precisely on this point, that is, at the point where it prides itself most.
Behind its attempts to charm you insecure love wants to make you dependent on it, it scratches its insecurity by secluding you from the world and possessing you ever more deeply, it shatters your trust in yourself that you may trust it all the more, and exclusively. Insecure love doesn’t see you for yourself and doesn’t desire to gain a deep knowledge of you, it merely sees you as a projection of its own desires and needs, fantasies. Insecure love requires a symbiotic and fusional mode of attachment, but given its unstable core, it will never achieve emotional clarity and openness, it will always desire the other as a way to hide that inside itself it has a child trembling in the dark.