Friday, September 29, 2006

On Servitude and Freedom . . .

“Therefore, this voluntary servitude is the beginning of freedom . . . We are free in life, but subject to purpose: the sophism of freedom of indifference was picked apart long ago. The writer who constantly creates a void in his mind, thinking to free it from any external influence in order to be sure of remaining individual, yields unwittingly to a sophism just as naïve. Actually the only times when we truly have all our powers of mind are those when we do not believe ourselves to be acting with independence, when we do not arbitrarily choose the goal of our efforts. The subject of the novelist, the vision of the poet, the truth of the philosopher are imposed on them in a manner almost inevitable, exterior, so to speak, to their thought. And it is by subjecting his mind to the expression of this vision and to the approach of this truth that the artist becomes truly himself.”

(Marcel Proust, “Preface to La Bible d’Amiens”)

Forget it ! ? !

“It is for the fish that the trap exists; once you’ve got the fish, you forget the trap. It is for the hare that the snare exists; once you’ve got the hare, you forget the snare. It is for the meaning that the word exists; once you’ve got the meaning, you forget the word. Where can I find a man who will forget words so that I can have a word with him?”

(Chuang Tzu, “Wai Wu” [External things]. Trans. Zhang Longxi)

“My propositions serve as elucidations in the following way: anyone who understands me eventually recognizes them as nonsensical, when he has used them – as steps – to climb up beyond them. (He must, so to speak, throw away the ladder after he has climbed up it.)

He must transcend these propositions, and then he will see the world aright.

What we cannot speak about we must pass over in silence.”

(Ludwig Wittgenstein, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus)

Monday, September 25, 2006

A Concrete “Medium for Poetry”

“Metaphor, the revealer of nature, is the very substance of poetry. The known interprets the obscure, the universe is alive with myth. The beauty and freedom of the observed world furnish a model, and life is pregnant with art.”

“Art and poetry deal with the concrete of nature . . . Poetry is finer than prose because it gives us more concrete truth in the same compass of words. Metaphor, its chief device, is at once the substance of nature and language. Poetry only does consciously what the primitive races did unconsciously. The chief work of literary men in dealing with language, and of poets especially, lies in feeling back along the ancient lines of advance. He must do this so that he may keep his words enriched by all their subtle undertones of meaning. The original metaphors stand as a kind of luminous background, giving color and vitality, forcing them closer to the concreteness of natural processes . . . For these reasons poetry was the earliest of the world arts; poetry, language and the care of myth grew up together.”

“With us, the poet is the only one for whom the accumulated treasures of the race-words are real and active. Poetic language is always vibrant with fold on fold of overtones, and with natural affinities . . .”

“The more concretely and vividly we express the interactions of things the better the poetry . . . Poetic thought works by suggestion, crowding maximum meaning into the single phrase pregnant, charged, and luminous from within.”

“The poet can never see too much or feel too much . . . The prehistoric poets who created language discovered the whole harmonious framework of nature, they sang out her processes in their hymns . . . Thus in all poetry, a word is like a sun, with its corona and chromosphere; words crowd upon words, and enwrap each other in their luminous envelopes until sentences become clear, continuous light-bands.”

(Ernest Fenollosa, “The Chinese Written Character as a Medium for Poetry,” Ed. Ezra Pound)

Thursday, September 21, 2006

corporate christianity . . .

Copyright © 2006 Marco Alexandre de Oliveira

mysticismysticism . . .

Copyright © 2005 Marco Alexandre de Oliveira

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Ruskin's Tower of Babble?

“It is that life of custom and accident in which many of us pass much of our time in the world; that life in which we do what we have not purposed, and speak what we do not mean, and assent to what we do not understand; . . . with all the efforts the best men make, much of their being passes in a kind of dream, in which they indeed move, and play their parts sufficiently, to the eyes of their fellow dreamers, but have no clear consciousness of what is around them, or within them; blind to the one, insensible to the other . . .”

“I do not know of any sensation more exquisite than the discovering of the evidence of this magnificent struggle into independent existence; the detection of the borrowed thoughts, nay, the finding of the actual blocks and stones carved by other hands of other ages, wrought into the new walls, with a new expression and purpose given to them . . .”

“The ambition of the old Babel builders was well directed for this world: there are but two strong conquerors of the forgetfulness of men, Poetry and Architecture; and the latter in some sort includes the former, and is mightier in its reality: it is well to have, not only what men have thought and felt, but what their hands have handled, and their strength wrought, and their eyes beheld, all the days of their life.”

(John Ruskin, The Seven Lamps of Architecture)

Friday, September 15, 2006

tão alone . . .

Copyright © 2006 Marco Alexandre de Oliveira

dedicado a Tati:

“Graças a Deus, um passarinho
Vem me acompanhar
Cantando bem baixinho
E eu já não me sinto só
Tão só, tão só
Com o universo ao meu redor”

(Marisa Monte / Arnaldo Antunes / Carlinhos Brown)

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

alright ! ? !

Copyright © 2006 Marco Alexandre de Oliveira

Monday, September 11, 2006


As we sail through the sea, oh say, can you see?
After long we lose sight by the dawn’s early light . . .

A fallen empire’s banner waves
Not so free and not so brave

One Nation. . .
A ship of fools
Sets out to rule the world;
They do not show themselves as such,
They do not know themselves that much

Under God. . .
The holy heathen
Sow and reap the Fall;
Beasts with bulging bellies bellow,
As solemn souls resound so hollow

Indivisible. . .
One by one
Drown in the depths of despair,
Swallowed by the swell of a turning tide
Whose waves wash away a burning pride

With Liberty and Justice for all. . .

O Captain, my captain,
The crew abandoned ship;
Row this battered boat yourself,
Your song the sirens sing –
Wearily, wearily, wearily, wearily
The bells of freedom ring

Copyright © 2002 Marco Alexandre de Oliveira

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

obscure clarifications . . .

"In general I have learned to strive, if possible, to avoid falling into the trap of having to define the 'poetic' in non-poetic terms. Neither I nor anyone else can ever say what poetry actually 'is,' but rather, one can only mean what poetry 'has been' . . ."

"Despite its communicative efficacy, 'transparency' is not a characteristic or quality of poetic language. Transparency is rather ideal for the communication of information, in which 'A' wishes to communicate a preconceived 'message' to 'B.' Here language is 'used' or 'utilized' (perhaps against its will) in a subservient manner or tone. Language enslaved or oppressed by abstract(ed) logic, reason(s), or ideas is not free to (re)create itself in the very act of 'poiesis' . . ."

"In 'poetry,' or in 'poetic' language, one never really knows what is ever said or meant . . ."

"Poetry is never an empty vehicle or medium meant to deliver or communicate any message as such. Poetry is a medium; the medium is the message."

"The concept of an 'empty vehicle' is analogous to that of a 'transparent' medium, or one in which communication occurs THROUGH language rather than WITHIN language
itself . . . An 'empty' medium does not contain that which it communicates; a 'transparent' medium shows or displays that which is not THERE, but that which is on the OTHER side . . ."

"Poetic language should generally strive to be concrete, not abstract. This 'concreteness' is attained by 'words' being fully present as meaningful or significant 'things' in the composition of poetry, rather than 'words' becoming empty 'signs' of absent things or of otherwise abstract(ed) ideas . . ."

"All in all, I believe that the best poetry communicates virtually all of its meaning at its surface, its content in its form (or vice versa), and neither clarifies nor obscures whatever lies deep beneath or beyond. In this sense, the 'superficial' is actually very 'profound' indeed, if only
for those who truly wish to explore further . . ."


Tuesday, September 05, 2006

On Seeing and the Imagination . . .

"The greatest thing a human soul ever does in this world is to see something, and tell what it saw in a plain way. Hundreds of people can talk for one who can think, but thousands think for one who can see. To see clearly is poetry, prophecy and religion, all in one."

"the imagination . . . its true force lies in its marvellous insight and foresight, that it is, instead of a false and deceptive faculty, exactly the most accurate and truth-telling faculty which the human mind possesses; and all the more truth-telling, because in its work, the vanity and individualism of the man himself are crushed, and he becomes a mere instrument or mirror, used by a higher power for the reflection to others of a truth which no effort of his could ever have ascertained; so that all mathematical, and arithmetical, and generally scientific truth, is, in comparison, truth of the husk and surface, hard and shallow; and only the imaginative truth is precious. Hence, whenever we want to know what are the chief facts of any case, it is better not to go to political economists, nor to mathematicians, but to the great poets; for I find they always see more of the matter than any one else . . ."

(John Ruskin, selections from Modern Painters)

Monday, September 04, 2006

"Ripple in still water . . ."

“There is a road, no simple highway,
Between the dawn and the dark of night,
And if you go no one may follow,
That path is for your steps alone . . .
You who choose to lead must follow,
But if you fall you fall alone,
If you should stand then who's to guide you?
If I knew the way I would take you home.”
(from “Ripple,” by Jerry Garcia and Robert Hunter)