There were two serpents… and the sixties was busy discovering the antithesis to the reigning dragon, not understanding the Mosaic consequences that still held them in its grip: the name… Rothschild. deleted, originally, in The Cantos. This was known by Pound as early as the twenties, in purely economic terms, but later he understood it in symbolic, quasi-Biblical terms. It wasn’t until much later that the fragment addenda were made known.
The Evil is Usury neschek
whose name is known the defiler,
Beyond race and against race
τόκος hic mali medium est
Here is the core of evil, the burning hell without let-up,
The canker corrupting all things, Fafnir the worm,
Syphilis of the State, of all kingdoms
Wart of the common-weal,
Wenn-maker, corrupter of all things
Darkness the defiler,
Twin evil of envy,
Snake of the seven heads, Hydra, entering all things,
Passing the doors of temples defiling the grove of Paphos,
neschek, the crawling evil,
slime, the corrupter of all things
Poisoner of the fount,
of all fountains, neschek,
The serpent, evil against nature’s increase,
Written in 1941 this fragment pre-dates David Icke by a half century or more, yet much of it is pure Bible, in a seemingly Gnostic aspect (where Pound and Blake, not always comfortable bedfellows in literature, overlap?)
D.H Lawrence is both problematic and interesting here. He believed that the fallen Lucifer was a pagan entity made evil by mainstream Christianity. Once you build an image it becomes a real presence (as the Torah understood in its will to censorship). So, yes… possibly a reigning entity now… but not necessarily in origin. Satanism is a parasite on the church… so, of course, they really do use this spiritual presence for black masses etc. Yaldaboeth, also. Ba’al is the fallen aspect of Bel, the god known in ancient Ireland (and also known to the Gnostics). What tends to happen is that they take a god and they bring it into fallenness by their own impure intentions, having no creative intention of their own (that they are soulless, in this?) Gods, or spiritual presences, to me, are never entirely earthly… they tend to straddle dimensions. They become ‘lower forces’ via man’s baser instincts. But can become aspects of higher dimensions if the will of an individual, or community, is strongly focussed toward the good. (We must also understand that these senses of lower and higher are only used for explanation of certain physical and ideological emanations… they are Dantean social terms, ascending and descending into the holarchy, source of life. Hierarchy is what we as social beings must immediately relate to…?)
Bards and seers literally hold the unity of dimensions in place via works of art. And here comes Shelley’s dictum; “Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world”. There is a lineage so deep and wide in that word; ‘unacknowledged’ that it would take a book or two to unravel. For me, the whole thing has everything to do with the ‘Flight of the Earls’, the loss of the Bardic and Druidic influence in modern life. Poets are also combatting mendacious influences. Since the Druidic line has fallen into the control of a few depraved bloodlines and their American, African and Asian cousins.
He learns this other writing. He is the scribe
Who drove a team of quills on his white field.
Round his cell door the blackbirds dart and dab.
Then self-denial, fasting, the pure cold.
By rules that hardened the farther they reached north
He bends to his desk and begins again.
Christ’s sickle has been in the undergowth.
The script grows bare and Merovingian.
…from Alphabets (1987). Heaney at his most pre-Renaissance-best. A perturbation in the language itself. The whiff of language-conspiracy. But Heaney, himself, one of the first modern Irish college boy poets… and a fear, a lack of daring, comes with it. Perhaps his best work is in the translations. He picks, and takes comfort in, similar epochs to myself. I don’t buy the idea that the Irish are really a renaissance-oriented people. We seem to leave that to Southern Europe and its corresponding American elegist. Although there is always the Latin that comes heavily into the Irish and the English, from Chaucer’s language onward, at least. (But McDevitt is right in this; that a wildness has been missed. Whether it be manifest in the modern is a much bigger question. My Surrealism, I believe, is an indicator).
Similarly, Conor MacDari, telling me the word Rome comes from the Irish Language. What I was most uncomfortable with, reading Mein Kampf, was not what our modern age’s mores may have expected me to dislike from the shrieking liberalist perspective… but that Hitler – as with Holderlin, and to a certain degree with Goethe – was holding up the classical age as the be-all and end-all of civilization. Yet, Blake – and the good Celt? – knows Rome was a barbarian culture built etymologically and mythologically, by the regions it conquered, their triumph of worship and belief becomes its pantheon in descent (the reason, also, that Blake is forced to invent divine and scientific powers outside of the Greek pantheon. This would deserve an essay in itself). One should read and study classicism on the grounding of that fact (and, of course, it doesn’t negate my enthusiasm for the classics, and classically-inspired poetry and literature; the name of H.D comes most forthrightly to mind here). But the Romans were the first to make their thievery dignified by virtue of their civic pragmatism. Blake knew this. Kathleen Raine turns Blake’s deeper search into an older Britain, but into a romance of only classical and Greek proportions, via the works of Thomas Taylor. In her metaphysics she is reaching in the right direction, yet she’ll only ever find a small portion of the story from that standpoint. Does this connect with the same interest and antagonism Yeats had to Plotinus? Not directly, perhaps, but it sits on the fringes of that debate. Between Raine and the Royals we see the occult connection between the benign yet powerful poetic instinct for creation and the parasitic magical powers of their very real sins, a connection the wider populous is – to one degree or another – at least ignorant of. In modern times we have seen this explicit connection of the Royals – their dabbling in spiritual and occult practices – since the time of John Dee onward (and Tsarion is right to suggest that the need for sacramental blood ritual has been the cause of most modern wars, being an inheritance of the notion that the basest forms that underpin this dimension they believe must be held in place in order to sequester knowledge that would otherwise assist in man’s transcendence – or spiritual reconfiguring – of this dimension, as it stands. The will toward a perpetual circus of fear etc).
Regardless – moving on, and to return to our mythological serpents: – in dimension-theory, as it were, the reptilian is supposed to hold sway in the fourth dimension… yet much of man’s psychic and spiritual abilities are in the fifth and sixth dimensions. Celtic lineage and metaphysics cannot be divorced from a mythological reptilian theory, and from the very real existence of black magic on the side of our current European monarchs (which is not to say monarchs are bad, or that monarchies in the past have not been benevolent… the Celtic Revival, and the Victorian – and Pre-Raphaelite – modes of interest at least understood the value of the concept of a benevolent lineage of the High Kings of British and European antiquity… yet Joyce’s procedures partially negate this, which is another failure embedded in high modernism, tempered by the very anti-Manichean notion of the senses as a means for wit, and for wordplay… which is very much the domain for instinctual searching of the lighter and higher precepts for laughter. Through Breton the use of ‘black humour’ has similar ends in mind. Black humour being a purely European sensibility?)
It is just that, behind pure classicism, there is a stolen knowledge, a sequestered – and halted – path the sages of antiquity engendered. This is the history of the last two to three thousand years… its absence just more visible in the last three hundred or so. Parasitism is the formalised endeavour of Elohim in their fallen aspect. But an aspect, only, of influence… in its most negative hue. These entities loathe the fact that all dimensions are open to the human, and that their powers only allow them to monkey around with very limited facets of our total pan-dimensional reality.
Equally there is the good serpent, Kundalini – and used with differing nomenclature, through different metaphysical traditions – used with moral discipline, and as a servant of life, and nourishment. Eros is its social and political aspect (but only Greek through its most recent form) darkened by most current leaders. Lawrence understood this serpent-dialectic – its clear in his book Apocalypse, and in The Plumed Serpent– but most people, lost in surface conspiracy research, paint the serpent with an entirely negative hue. That could’ve even been Pound’s limitation, also?
Incidentally, Pound uses neschek for the modern Hebrew nashah. Though I need to look into this more.
From Lawrence’s Apocalypse:
A hero was a hero, in the great past, when he had conquered the hostile dragon, when he had the power of the dragon with him in his limbs and breast.When Moses set up the brazen serpent in the wilderness, an act which dominated the imagination of the Jews for many centuries, he was substituting the potency of the good drago for the sting of the bad dragon, or serpents. That is, man can have the serpent with him or against him. When his serpent is against him, he is stung and envenomed and defeated from within. The great problem, in the past, was the conquest of the inimical serpent and the liberation within the self of the gleaming bright serpent of gold, golden fluid life within the body, the rousing of the splendid divine dragon within a man, or within a woman.
What ails men today is that thousands of little serpents sting and envenom them all the time, and the great divine dragon is inert. We cannot wake him to life, in modern days. He wakes on the lower planes of life: for a while in an airman like Lindbergh or in a boxer like Dempsey. It is the little serpent of gold that lifts these two men for a brief time into a certain level of heroism. But on the highest planes, there is no glimpse or gleam of the great dragon
the Logos, the great dragon of the beginning of the cycle, is now the evil dragon of today. It will give its potency to no new thing, only to old and deadly things. It is the red dragon, and it must once more be slain by the heroes, since we can expect no more from the angels
Blake’s The Marriage of Heaven and Hell forms the background to Lawrence… and yet Lawrence never really debated in depth the consequences of Blake. The two serpents are implicit here. The man must equal or transcend that dragon, in its evil, energetic aspect… via the original force of the dragon. The duty of the Filidh is to inhere, to understand the ramifications of a dualism… to guide the man or woman out of it. A magician, employing and overcoming, by use of triskelia and gyre. To perceive the descent inherent in the dragon’s actions is to perceive, see, beyond him… which immediately brings about its opposite; ascent. To depart, truly, into further exploration. All of Hegel’s dialectic implies this problem (and Icke, and other netizen researchers misuse Hegel in thinking this dialectic is simply a dialectic of descent only. It is what a man does with a dualism. That is the imperative. And it is the most visceral imperative for the Filidh. To be gleaned by him. Abjectly unregarding of social convention. The Flight of the Earls occurred for a reason; a misuse of natural, telluric force).
And that Bardic strain; conceptual and Celtic predominance of the magic of the psyche… even before the term had gained currency through the “Celtic” revival a century and a half later. New minds open up their ecstacies and prejudices. No man, aloof from them (and yet, as Nietzsche understood, the ubermensch would be deemed as necessarily aloof, a descendant of Shelley’s expulsion from Oxford… always the distance, the aloofness, of that balancing of reality and justice). Lawrence follows Nietzsche too closely though. He disregards the esoteric to a certain degree although, apparently, being well read in it… I wonder what would have happened had he met A.E, George William Russell… a poet schooled in avatardom, in a wholly different conception… and yet, in portions of Lawrence’s Apocalypse, we see similarities between these two men:
The new dragon is green or golden, green with the vivid ancient meaning of green which Mohammed took up again, green with that greenish dawn-light which is the quintessence of all new and life-giving light. The dawn of all creation took place in greenish pellucid gleam that was the shine of the very presence of the Creator. John of Patmos harks back to this when he makes the iris or rainbow which screens the face of the Almighty green like smaragd or emerald. And this lovely jewel-green gleam is the very dragon itself, as it moves out wreathing and writhing into the cosmos. It is the power of the Kosmodynamos coiling throughout space, coiling along the spine of man, leaning forth between his brows like the Uraeus between the brows of a Pharoah. It makes a man splendid, a king, a hero, a brave man gleaming with the gleam of a dragon, which is golden when it wreathes round a man.
Where Yeats has the gyres, Lawrence sees dragons as epochal powers. Aeons over Archons? The dragon. Red and green. What do I remember of David Jones’s discussion of the dragon in his two books of essays? Not much. But his sense of the dragon obviously applied, symbolically, to a discussion of the Welsh flag. We have more of a positive sense of the dragon there. How is it that shades of nationalism, aspects of the discussion of power, appear in symbolical terms? Which is danger, in the modern western mind, at the point where triskelion turns into swastika (the danger only being where on epoch truly overlaps the nearness and distance of another, modern with post-modern, in this case… that it is only a breath away). Yet my first real sense of that latter symbol appeared, not through the usual eighties’ British school brainwashing, but by a scattering of such symbols in the lining of tatami mats… in a room in Kobe, Japan, somewhere around the summer/autumn of 1999? And, since then, a mark of – not Nazism – but generic East Asian Buddhism. India. Japan. South Korea. But ultimately Aryan and European, given MacDari’s reinstatement of the west-to-east movement; de-exoticizing Asia for the European, to a certain degree of usefulness. There are waves of this stuff, the cross-fertilizings between Occident and Orient; but the take-off was 19th Century, and there will be no landing. Blake, Schopenhauer, Max Muller, Whitman etc each trading on the Atman and the Brahmin, to different degrees.
This is reclamation of an own culture… as Mandelstam pointed out, when asked what Acmeism was: a yearning for world culture. The power structures of the western world, for the most part, attempt to harness and dissipate that yearning’s energy, so as to manifest their power. Whatever powers do machinate under the banner of Illuminism then they do not intend nationalism; their greatest enemy? Through nationalism, through localism, world culture is realised (or maybe worldfeeling, weltfühlen, might be a better expression? Lessing speaks of this in her novel Shikasta). Globalism apes it in order to dissipate it. Through an independence of spirit a nation joins the world. And not before. Thus my support for all the independence movements in the U.K (but not necessarily their most prominent mouthpieces. Farage is quite obviously a great man. Just leave the room, or turn off the video, when he starts talking about Churchill, is my first thought in the negative).
Is it also prescient that, prior to Orwell, Lawrence died in the company of that great creator of modern western dystopia, Aldous Huxley? Or that the theme of Aaron’s Rod is a Masonic take on Mozart’s The Magic Flute? A Magic Flute with Australian terrorist explosions in its finale. How much mantic intuition, how much conscious Luciferian conspiracy…? Lawrence’s writings are so shot-through with prophecy that some have attempted to lump Lawrence in with the progenitors of the future evil he was fighting.
The implosions, then, of modernism. Yet it is not so clear cut. There’s more… more colours, at least:
The dragon of Nebuchadnazzar is blue, and is a blue-scaled unicorn stepping proudly. He is very highly developed. The dragon of the Apocalypse is a much more ancient beast: but then, he is kakodaimon.
But the royal colour was still red: the vermilion and the purple, which is not violet but crimson, the true colour of the living blood, these were kept for kings and emperors. They became the very colours of the evil dragon. They are the colours in which the apocalyptist clothes the great harlot woman whom he calls Babylon. The colour of life itself becomes the colour of abomination.
For me, at least, Lawrence rescues a dignity there, somehow. In my poetry (something often – I hope! – gleaned hypnogogically, or half-hypnogogically? a process that allows for the admittance of all procedure, all method) I have always felt an adherence to the active form of the verb living and a worry, a disgust – perhaps – to the words life and live.
(His wife, to himself; did you know the word ‘live’ is the word ‘evil’ backwards? So we have this arch-Gnostic inherence… in the negative conception, in the supra-Hebraic conception?). The retreat from matter. And yet matter is ours, with Berkeley intact. For good or ill. A world is ours, while we can still admit – with the best mystic – There are more things in heaven and Earth, Horatio, / Than are dreamt of in your philosophy. And the faux gnostic (Manichean?) brag of the evil of the world, and of the human is always set against Blake’s The most sublime act is to set another before you.
Blood and Sin, Blood and Immortality
Blood follow’d, but immortal; ichor pure,
Such as the blest inhabitants of heav’n
May bleed, nectareous; for the Gods eat not
Man’s food, nor slake as he with sable wine
Their thirst, thence bloodless and from death exempt
…tells Cowper’s translation of The Iliad. Which returns us to the blood aspect (also reiterated in the work of Rudolf Steiner). There is also the theory that man, in his immortality, did not have red blood… an excess of copper, or other elements, suggests it was green, originally. All commercially produced foods leave the taint of sugar in the blood stream, and thus disease, all modern illness… prevalence of cancer and diabetes. Lack of minerals. I see Morrissey and Ted Hughes in a boxing ring… Hughes, the monarchist, upholding the tradition of the hunter, Morrissey; appealing to something earlier. Something of modesty and purity (despite my present inability to rid myself of those habits completely. I watch a piece by Norman Finkelstein, where he suggests that meat-eating, in a hundred years, will be deemed utterly barbaric; close to cannibalism or pedophilia). The consequence of all this, completely allowing for the notion that to be ‘of the gods’ one must at least act with their same stringency. Thus the most radical thinkers are in a condition of such detox that the most nutty ideas can flood in. In the blood, in the DNA, and also a product of ruthless investigative thought and daring. There being, also, a generational aspect – in tandem with the synchro-mystic idea of a completely genuine sense of ‘God’s plan’ – that one idea must come to fruition in sequence, via its human host. In this conception it would be entirely correct that Tsarion, or another researcher of his generation, would reject flat earth. (As I have said before, it is entirely right that father should be supremely affronted by son. This is why parenting is good for the soul).The man of knowledge, while rejecting time would not necessarily reject chronology. The agon regarding Kronos is multi-faceted, not specifically biological, not specifically philosophical, not specifically political… but combining all of these. The sage, then, is one the acolyte must exhaust and transcend. And this would be to convert parasitism into The Good of someone like Plotinus. I hope one day that I will not need William Blake. And it behoves me to know, very precisely and clearly, when that moment will come. The same process is intended with child-rearing. It is the way of all growth. The same is known to us through our different forms of relationships. Creation and destruction, both divine and physical, come to us through human interaction (and in so doing mirror other realms of spiritual and supernatural interaction). Crisis is their emblem, and comedy and tragedy their outcome. If this were not true the whole gamut of writing, of voicing – from Aeschylus to Chaucer, from Hesiod to Swinburne – would have slipped from our attention long ago.
The Serpent, Modernity, Nature, Shakespeare’s Existentialism
The entropic serpent, as evil – which Blake identified simply as energy – has had his moments, even in artists of creation… I think of Baudelaire, most precisely. But this was essentially a spiritual phenomenon, manifested… which is to say I shrink from legitimising the myriad of truely nefarious activities, in the physical, that have occurred on this plane since the post-flood period (but most distinctly obvious in the various problems that have arisen since WWI. The sixties, however, represented a swing away from energy into the uber-liberal notion of forgiveness and equality. Baudelaire, although happily integrated into that epoch, is not at home in this type of thought). Yet, in some intellectual strains, at least, Yahwism is rightly dissipated, and yet replaced with… the new age?
In this, could John Lash be correct in transcending some of Baudelaire’s more Catholic standpoints, by seeing that The Fall was not a human fall… but the fall of the goddess that maintained us, in a holistic sense (it’s just that I don’t see that her name was necessarily Gaia…) And Yeats would follow this (with spiritus mundi) but would have little to do with Wordsworth, in seeing a commune with nature as satisfactory. Are there gradations?
In Dickinson we see a great worth in ferreting out the beauty in the minutiae of nature, and yet she is not a Wordsworth, not, in any mode, a philosopher (where Wordsworth most definitely is… the tension had previously appeared in Wordsworth’s antagonism to Colderige’s Kubla Khan). She is an artist primarily of the soul, using nature as tool for gleaning what was previously of the soul. Hamlet’s discomfort, via Dickinson’s interest in nature – is over what is finally unfulfilled in man: hiraeth.
…I have of late—but wherefore I know not—lost all my mirth, forgone all custom of exercises, and indeed it goes so heavily with my disposition that this goodly frame, the earth, seems to me a sterile promontory; this most excellent canopy, the air—look you, this brave o’erhanging firmament, this majestical roof fretted with golden fire—why, it appears no other thing to me than a foul and pestilent congregation of vapors. What a piece of work is a man! How noble in reason, how infinite in faculty! In form and moving how express and admirable! In action how like an angel, in apprehension how like a god! The beauty of the world. The paragon of animals. And yet, to me, what is this quintessence of dust? Man delights not me. No, nor woman neither, though by your smiling you seem to say so.
Shakespeare transfers the medieval argument – or relationship- between Yahweh and man, and inserts the focus of man-toward-man. Nietzsche lived in Hamlet’s world. This is ressentiment three centuries prior to him, however. The beauty of the world, the paragon of animals… Yes! Senor De Vere… you may not need to finish that speech (and Mr. Lawrence, similarly — after Blake’s proverb? — would prefer you didn’t). Here, the stirrings of humanism, existentialism, modernism. Yet somehow Lawrence’s work feels to be something of an update on it? The men who were Shakespeare seem more driven by the classical world, and obviously – by extension – the mode of the Greek tragedians. Lawrence is wild and tribal and less navel-gazing. Much of his prose is a correction to too much of Greece in literature. Yet Shakespeare, via Hamlet, seems to reject all of nature but maintain only the quality of human proclamation, the Gnostic rejection, inherent in ancient forms of tragedy.
Lash is only partially correct… he still stays within the bounds of an epoch (he has not, then, entirely escaped the sixties). The blame gets shifted into the realm of a supreme goddess who is a part of God. Baudelaire’s influence imagines for us a perpetual demiurge – Biblical or not – that uses sin as an energetic function. Devised by an artist the notion becomes less Yahwist and more a question of the extremities of self-interrogation man must bring upon himself. A para-moral guardianship, via intuition, if you will. And this is echoed in Hamlet… a kind of proto-artist at the end of his rope. Why is it that I see Yeats’s Celtic Twilight as a way out of this tragic bind? There is something of the entropic serpent in Hamlet’s angst, a loss of human magic, as it were. Yeats and Lady Gregory, perhaps inadvertantly, replaced the modern agon of man’s Greek wrath at the world – and man’s wrath regarding man – with a spiritual and metaphysical dynamic hitherto unseen across the usual structures of power we’ve been familiar with since the time of Shakespeare.
Serpents & Spirits
This last claim, then, intends more serpentine meanderings, perhaps in a different hue. The intro to The Gonne-Yeats Letters…
After he left, Maud wrote to tell him a most wonderful thing had happened – ‘the most wonderful I have met in life. If we are only strong enough to hold the doors open I think we shall obtain knowledge and life we have never dreamed of.’ Yeats noted, in the white calf-bound manuscript book Maud had given him for recording their astral unions and visions, that he had ‘made evocation’ on the ‘night of 25th’ and sought union with her. Her letter of 26 July told him of her having seen an Egyptian-like form floating over her, dressed in moth-like garments and with gold-edged wings, which she thought was herself, a body in which she could go out into the astral. She put on his body and desired to go to him. They went somewhere in space, he in the form of a serpent, and they kissed and melted into each other till they formed ‘one being, a being greater than ourselves who felt & knew all with double intensity’. She had this experience three times, each time being brought back by a noise in the house. Afterwards she went to bed and dreamed they discussed this spiritual vision. In the dream he said it would increase physical desire, which she said ‘troubles me a little – for there was nothing physical in that union – material union is but a pale shadow compared to it
The bind, here, is that – in the new century – we’re somewhat in the hands of Icke (and his analysis of the earthly powers is cogent and incredibly useful)… and yet Celtic mythology (and Ovid, at least in the classical tradition) is fairly au fait with the reptilian, and with shapeshifting (the Hindu tradition, also… ditto The Djinn in The Koran). And yet we’ve not really overcome Nietzsche – never mind Man! – in his throwing away of the gods with the big monotheos; God, himself. What the reptilian implies is incredibly complex, and yet – while many conspiracy researchers are busy seeing the reptilian in any number of evil political figures – we see that reptilian aspect in the eyes of Manly P. Hall, Emily Dickinson, Edgar Allan Poe… do we deem all these similarly driven by psychosis and pathological societal manipulation? I suggest not. It’s what you do with those eyes that count. But just don’t give me The Prince of Wales or Kathleen Raine; a purely Greek emanation of Blakeanism, for your avatars. We are older and stronger than these. And it behoves us to imagine a positive emanation of the serpent, particularly in a survey of literature, in so far as it may have the potential to unveil that force through spiritualism and the supernatural. Not that Freud and the other various writers of psycho-analysis are not worth engaging with, but that spiritualism suffers under the weight of psychology, to some degree.
An Anti-Literary Serpent, The Tribes of Blake
Icke took the reptilian and ensconced it, finally, in a kind of metaphysical cartel for the planet Saturn, despite his incredibly acute understanding of the lower natures inherent in the third dimension. It was the earthly evil gone interplanetary (not that I deny the planetary… but that it seems essentially to be dokos; a playground for materialist scientists to pontificate over). This same solar system, poured into the modern mind since the mid-1900s, is child or both academic research and alternate research… yet it comes out of a mind that could not quite imagine the Infinity Blake intended, with such announcements as:
If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, Infinite. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thro’ narrow chinks of his cavern
All manner of internet researchers have applied the Biblical satan to a new ‘otherworldly’ evil. But somehow it doesn’t jive. I attribute much of the failure of human spirituality to ascend its material circumstances to the something of the force that ColinWilson lays out in his The Mind Parasites. If we take this universe as a playground for their domain then we are able to take most of the modern scientific models for universe with a pinch of salt. Which is to say; I do not trust either the solar system, the universe model or the pluriverse model as any indication of what the human being spiritually finds himself in. By necessity, I see the primal influence of sun and moon as holding sway over the mind of man, and his physical circumstances… and yet these are limits upon him that he is either wholly or partially unaware of. In the mystic experience of Wilson’s peak experience, or a revelling in The Now, we see these earlier facts of science loosening their grip. I also believe the precept for all artistic production implies such forms of mystic retrieval, no matter how socially or politically embedded. Meaning; I distrust the Russians’ wholesale dismissal – Akhmatova’s particularly- of mystic experience, and summise that it came out of the political pressures Bolshevism engendered in the populous, the reign of fear and constant social maneuvreing etc. (I would see the use of surrealist modes as equally a threat to this also. In the Russian context its most easily considered in certain films of Sergei Parajanov… who, perhaps despite himself, became an exemplar of dissident surrealism shorn of all the ill-advised political opinions of Breton himself). This reign of fear and fake art gets transposed into a more technological and capitalistic form in the west, and becomes the psychological burden for would-be artists in western Europe and North America; the essentially liberalist paradigm.
The sub-par black magic conspiracy that the political world has intended up until recently is really without much theoretical backbone (and Ginsberg and Lamantia, here were at least partially correct). We know, at least by Blake’s standard, by his proclamation, the sane rejoinder of… Thus men forgot that / All deities reside in the human breast… (yet the objective dream world in which the gods inhabit has its own parallel forms of emphases, both separate and attached to the physical world?) This does not negate God, it enacts his supreme permission; that man create his own morality. That he have permission to fail, or succeed, in the attempt. that he create his own parameters for what is deemed success and failure.
We are not conjoined with the Mosaic god because of an abstract worship. He is ours only by the test of a faith, and the important point there is that it is a faith in the singular. (The test of European man’s spiritual strength). Thus secularism, in the west, allows for both faith and doubt… one up on many world cultures. I hear the cry of civilization in that. A spiritual civilization that begins in the body, but is product of the angels. The triumph of the body is that it is tested by eminently swimming in plurality. It monitors both ideological coherence and incoherence. But here, Kierkegaard chimes in with, often-times, the retort of a pure monotheism (and even Dylan Thomas – on the level of Bardism – would concur, in his preface to The Collected Poems; These poems, with all their crudities, doubts and confusions, are written for the love of man and in Praise of God, and I’d be a damn fool if they weren’t). Pagan animism is absolutely allowed for in the western dynamic, and yet it exists inclusive of the established church (now, unfortunately diminished by an in-crowd satanism, a fallen Luciferianism, and the usual accoutrements and exemplars of a very real black magic). Yet! That same monotheos, the fallen Yahweh, blinds the modern Celt to a power rife within its own line of Kings. Which is to say, I do not buy the Welsh Barddas of Iolo Morganwg wholesale. There are pieces here and there. There are reclaimings… a remnant of a system. And it is the Welsh line of Bards, of Druids, that stayed longer than the other Celtic traditions… perhaps with the assistance of people like Williams (pseudonym of Iolo etc) but it is Thomas’s urgency systematised (and now the Druidic tradition most directly absorbed into the black arts of the British Royals?) I wonder what it would look like wiped clean of Yahwism? Probably rather jolly… like Spinoza. But a variation on him, in some manner.
In all this, however, Williams’ system is not to be too closely related to Thomas, given that Thomas also partially echoes Blake’s reference to man’s connections to God as a form of benign, and possibly-transcendant anthropocentrism; the joy and function of poetry is, and was, the celebration of man, which is also the celebration of God (Thomas writes in Answers to an Enquiry, New Verse, 1934). The difference would be that Blake – being Irish? – would be inclined to the pantheon of Gods (or, more distinctly, in his case; the pantheonizing of his gods, either by actual visitation, or simply via the faculties of a prime Imagination) rather than Thomas’s strict sense of simply God and man. (And I’d suggest the Irish, proto-Atlantean lineage, as perhaps being the more sophisticated… but the outcome is arguably very similar).
Regardless, in both cases we remain witnesses, like it or not, to a takeover within the Bardic network… and The Flight of the Earls is its most potent symbol of the subsequent degradation. We do not, for example, place the work of Blake or Yeats in relation to this historical occurance. But if we take Blake’s Irish lineage seriously; a fact which Yeats had discovered early on in his Blake studies… then we can see the effect of it on the wider literature, both inside Ireland, and outside:
I have been busy with Blake. (I told you). You complain about the mysticism. It has enabled me to make out Blake’s prophetic books at any rate. My book on him will I beleive (sic) clear up that riddle for ever. No one will call him mad again. I have evidence by the way to show that he was of Irish extraction — his grandfather was O’Neal who changed his name for political reasons. Ireland takes the most important place in is mystical system.
…that was the letter to John O’Leary, May 7th 1889. It comes up again in his letter to Douglas Hyde a few months later:
Did I ever tell you my good fortune in finding out that William Blake — on whose Mystic System myself & a friend are making a big book — the devil take all this prose — was an O’Neal. His grandfather was a Cornelius O’Neal who changed his name to Blake. Ireland makes much noise in his Mystic System & always holds a high ideal place.
Blake’s unknown – until Yeats – transposition into an Irish milieu, again, throws light on the political tenure, and problematic, at the heart of early 17th century British politics. When one witnesses the waste land of the 18th century for the arts we can see it replaced by a continental philosophy shorn of Celtic, and more generally, north and western European influences. The O’Neill lineage would also include my own lineage, to some degree, and that Blake becomes a form of supreme vengeance upon the established literary canon up to the end of the 17th century. It is such for many whose lineage, in any concrete way, reaches back into the early-to-mid 17th century. After Blake the reading-through-of-established-literary-figures becomes more proletarian, in some sense. I think primarily of what artists like Keats and Yeats made of Spenser, for example. Spenser was a firestorm on the revelation of the supernatural in literature, and Keats updated him very differently to Blake. But, despite Yeats’s extending of that sensibility it has been cut-short, mainly because of spiritualism’s lack of traction into the era of late Joyce. The morass of Joyce’s Wake has to be legitimized through the prism of that earlier movement (which I intend to discuss in another essay). After the war this fight is lost almost entirely, and is liberalized by the likes of Ginsberg and Lamantia.
Although one could argue for a much longer and sustained descent in relation to the Irish arts, Kant – philosophically, for good or ill – is the most distinct marker for our own worldview, today. It is a battle that finds coherence in literature over a period of 250 years. Modernism did NOT recall that very particular philosophical fall (Pound’s, and later, Olson’s, primary exclusion of the fact of Blake – as opposition – attests to it, though certain strands in British literature at least shadow it; David Jones and David Gascoyne come to mind).
If there is a contemporary Celtic-Aryan understanding of poetry, of the world, it is very much delineated closer to Romanticism, the Neo-Romantic, and to the Pre-Raphaelites. Joyce understood this in his hailing of Mangan, yet he rejects it in the Celtic Twilight only partially justified, in that yes, it had transposed a certain convenience for Protestant spiritualism and its less talented aesthetic hangers-on. But that modernism would become hyper-grounded and philosophical, perhaps Joyce could not predict. Perhaps the reason for this is that the Wake, by inference, grounds any spiritualism it has via the figure of Vico?) Similarly, Thomas understood this through figures like Beddoes.
There are other traces elsewhere that lead us further back. Give me Mr. Dylan Thomas any day, but these are fallen Celts (at least in the social sense… Thomas himself admitted that Yeats was the man, but that he enjoyed Hardy more… Pound too, concluded that he couldn’t move beyond Yeats)… we are people overtly of a supernatural tradition… spiritualism and psycho-analysis cannot contain us. But are indication. Always. And, to become little men of a tawdry communism? (another monotheos!?) So many ungrounded Celts of the twentieth century seem gone to seed under the faux grace of a Marx or an Engels, these most anti-poetic of men.
(I would even go further and suggest that the reason Yeats is so much loved is precisely – unlike Pound and Browning – he fostered a very real investigation into the occult and the supernatural. While men, in quotidian mentation, refuse the supernatural and the spiritual, their heart daily yearns for it. Yeats received the historical opportunity because he was lucky enough to establish himself before the rise of Bolshevism, both in its Soviet aspect and its western aspect. (As I traverse the airports and people of Europe, this last year… – England – Ireland – Hungary… my only word to describe it? Bolshevism. Pure Bolshevism).
But can we even speak of ourselves, the Celts, further back in history… can we say that, for instance, we are not men of the Renaissance, in any fundamental sense. And Yeats understood this when he wished he preferred Chaucer over Shakespeare (and what was Pound reading when journalists came to visit him on one of his visits to a poetry festival in Venice in ‘66? Chaucer, of course).
our wealth, dirty – & beaten into bankers’ rows – doors
stripped clean, ye hands! for stems of poverty’s flowers?
& O cracked mirrors, quiet graves, of white men. (Tend,
childless – we Britishers – a St. George of the perpetual mind…
or see how the more we go south & east, they say, is
where most money, contacts… contracts, be. (But another hit-piece
in The Guardian,
As John C.Lilly stepped into the sensory deprivation chamber so I got on a plane to Mumbai. That was January 15th 1999. A necessary break from all things western. But exactly what sort of ‘little’ did ye know, pilgrim? Which is to say: I learned two things… 1/ who I was, and 2/ what was not me. I learned, in real terms, very little about India, Nepal, or – later – Japan. I was not there long enough to know very much at all. But, once sealed off from my own culture, I immediately began to build it from scratch, as Joyce did in Ulysses. And who were you, prey tell? The answer is almost nothing. I was a complex of what the College Road library in Shelton, Stoke, and the Bolton Library, could furnish me with. And then a mishmash of all the parental cultural laziness that floundered in on me, also. Yet! What I was not cannot completely be separated from what I was. A racial grounding developed in me, unconsciously, through all the wanderings. I knew that I was both inert, introspective… and yet outgoing in the truly adventurous sense, when being satisfied that I already knew what my own people were in their present moment; which is an essentially atomised, hyper-individualized broken populous lost in insignificant gossip and empty hedonism, who – in all its forms of cultural production – is bankrupt and entirely without force, strength or faith. Which is to say; I’m outgoing when not around my own, ostensibly… perhaps in egalitarianism there, but an egalitarianism staunchly rooted in the newer realisation that reincarnation manifests itself at a slant to the world, at random… and, as the healthy immune system attacks the first inklings of a disease so the mature soul reincarnates exactly in locations where worldfeeling is most degraded.
As I’ve already mentioned; I had a sense that travel might be useful to inform the mind of man (convenient, given that the young intelligent middle-class man from Europe, in the nineties… would become an essentially nomadic being over the course of the next twenty years… not necessarily by choice, but by the machinations of the E.U. But there was a turning point around the first few years after 9-11… no longer would foreign experience of work be of much interest to English employers… but we did have humanities degrees after all!) but I’ve concluded that travel for the most spiritual of us brings us certain gleanings, but for the 99% very little. I have no truck with the backpacker ethic, per se. I put very little emphasis, even, on how long a person may have lived abroad. Most surround themselves with their own, and appeal for their livelihood and political views on the most base elements of the majority that surrounds them. And the same goes for the foreign elements in English culture. They are stale yes-men whose authority comes from no strength of analysis or mind. Ignore them. Ignore them, or die of their insignificant priorities for human life. And, at the same time, listen out for everything. This is the way of societies, in general. The ethnic imperative, augmented by very real celestial powers, and with powers of mentation, and with potential discursive powers of social cohesion.
Strange, then, that in what one disregards is what goes with one. I take the strength of the family, and one’s eminent disagreements among them to be of service, in the much longer term. Experience is code for later use. Very little of what one most immediately experiences, with the mind of that present, is of much interest. And yet it is as if centrifugal and centripetal forces press in on one… so that the opposite is also true. Strength of paradox and contradiction, then? Because the mind of the present moment (though eternal) – through coagulation of decades-old experience – is itself a being unto generation and the unregenerate. A cycle of construction and deconstruction presents itself. Intent and utter lack of intent converge. The consequences for this, perhaps most pertinently in the fact of the institutions of man – his educative limbs, as it were – are immense. How to have the regular scholastic disciplines run through this poetical inherence I just mention? As I say; not to abolish the seriality and specialization of the institutions, but to perpetually bring fresh perspective to the already established? How to capture the old soul for new disciplines of societal rumination? There is perhaps only a very minor sense in which man’s powers of social and political organisation can ape the twists and turns that artistic inspiration follows. There is perhaps no modification, education-wise, the years since WWII could fundamentally impose useful social change upon, unless it studied quite dispassionately the tradition it had lost in the century previous. This was not done… which leave us now with homeschooling and limited interaction with the larger institutions of learning as possible ways for amendment.
Again, though, it ultimately seems that this randomness of spiritual genius incarnating without any law of physics or reincarnation, can be trusted only in forms that the universities do not yet deem valid, and must be adjusted in other more home-grown ways. Travel and study are modes of discovery, and yet strangely – to a certain point – they give in to more abstruse psychic and spiritual states, most specifically. Travel as lifestyle choice (very much a mode of the nineties and early noughties) is not the answer either. A combination of both oikos and cultural adventure need to be achieved (and very much adjusted to the needs of a group or individual).
Travel, Geist, Insouciance
I like to read accounts of westerners abroad. I was even under the impression that travellers abroad – and blessed with a modicum of English – somehow enter a zone of de-conditioning, and that they may be just a tad more worth talking to. And yet everywhere you go, there you are. And mysterious languages sprawl in front of you. Still, a tiny tiny minority break out of their set cultural mode. It is spiritual. My appeal to pre-destination sets me wondering on this. So to say, that a visit to The Louvre or to The Pyramids would rarely cut it? But in saying that, experience still stands as spiritual material, if that is not a contradiction in terms.
I remember looking at the picture of John Clare’s grave stone on the net. The inscription on the headstone intrigued me. Reading these few words makes for a sombre, rather brutal –but enervating – brand of frankness: John Clare. 1793-1864. A Poet Is Born Not Made. (Ah, all those Social Studies lessons, as a sixth former, in front of a teacher mumbling on about ‘nature versus nurture’! Give me Homer’s golden chain of being, anyday…) If there is reincarnation then there is the whole gradation of intelligence one enters the world with. If you are born then you are born experienced already. But how experienced… in this life thing? A poet is born and made. But mostly born. And, when ‘perfected’ then absent (as the Hindu knows?) Before he bows out he commits a crime… a great work of art… the greater it is the longer linear time will take to assimilate it. Death is the greatest work of art. All the best art has this feeling of the penultimate about it. (Is that Lev Shestov? It might be).
Or this, appended to a Jimmy Page interview on youtube; “Jimmy Page, an old soul…”
And the same goes for the traveller; a man prey to conditioning. The walls of scepticism have long been raised in my mind. I was a journalist for a time, I guess. If you’re in with the wrong crowd chances are your preconceptions will get the better of you. News stories, flashing for centuries, across the retina. And no knowledge therein. No truth. You are the scavenging bird on the rock of your faculties of perception and judgement, partially misaligned by psyche but maintained by intuition; a melange of both the political world and The Unconscious. The presence of the world, its acutely moving silences and moods.
Between 2002-2003 and 2006-2008 I was back in England… apart from these brief forays it has been the long Asian merry-go-round for me. And the steadfast feeling I remember from even those later days (and particularly those later days) was that England is a fucking circus. A shower of well-meaning fools flogging the dead horse of cultural degradation, all the way down into the dirt. (In this I am a foreigner to western man… I often take pains to avoid him altogether. My arrogance is to think that, stripped of his societal conceits, I will advance beyond with just wit, instinct and intuition, certain disability of conceit, perhaps).
In this, do I take on Lawrence’s post-‘Great’-war weariness?
Witness Lawrence, in the late essay, Insouciance, musing on the difference between what is naturally present and what is politically prescient in the Italy of 1928.
They care! They simply are eaten up with caring. They are so busy caring about Fascism or Leagues of Nations or whether France is right or whether Marriage is threatened, that they never know where they are. They certainly never live on the spot. They inhabit abstract space, the desert void of politics, principles, right and wrong, and so forth. They are doomed to be abstract. Talking to them is like trying to have a human relationship with the letter x in algebra.
There simply is a deadly breach between actual living and this abstract caring. What is actual living? It is a question mostly of direct contact. There was a direct sensuous contact between me, the lake, mountains, cherry trees, mowers, and a certain invisible but noisy chaffinch in a clipped lime tree. All this was cut off by the fatal shears of that abstract word FASCISM, and the little old lady next door was the Atropos who cut the thread of my actual life this afternoon. She beheaded me, and flung my head into abstract space Then we are supposed to love our neighbours!
To hold in a single thought reality and justice. For those that pontificate on what Lawrence’s reactions would have been to the various European political movements leading up to World War II – had he lived after 1930 – we’re left in little doubt here. And yet even to ask that question would be to fall prey to the problem Lawrence describes here. I have sympathy for it. We grow old… abstract caring matters less. A time for engagement, a time for leaisure. Pound’s Tempus loquendi, / Tempus tacendi,
And yet it matters. It matters? Our children would die if it did not? Brute insouciance would make us simply fall into anarchism, a set of notions I feel less and less interested in. Government, regardless of utopias and dystopias, has magnificent potential. The thought for me, here, is a kindly whisper in the ear of an old soldier; “you care about the lakes and mountains, she cares for something that doesn’t interest you. So be it. Let her care!”
The balance inherent in Yeats’s coinage implies being present to both the lakes and mountain, and the woman gossiping about international politics. I have been that woman. We all have. And one day a friend said to me; “You’re tired”. ‘Nuff said. Get some kip. The dream of this world you steer with your spirit, and when you do so you see how the world is also spirit, but only insofar as you steer it, being – yourself – an incarnated spirit. (The classical conception of soul not to be confused with spirit here, but more related, as I see it, with the theosophical; Steiner and Yeats).
The thing I didn’t retain properly in my analysis of surrealism was hierarchy (Breton was not only a political smoke screen but a metaphysical smoke screen… I’d caught him on the family, the nation, community etc… all the other lunacies of his ilk… but I had disregarded Pound’s more sensible sense of aristocracy). As Morris was for Yeats so Breton is for me. An influence… but politically and socially beyond the pale? What is retained? There are ripples, ruptures, folds, pleats… in that feeling that crosses Lawrence’s insouciance. It works through artists (Keats, Browning). I see it everywhere but am more interested in what it is doing through Yeats and into the 20th century. Perhaps it will have something to do with race soul. Olson and Pound both make a move against the Wake. (The modern Celtic and British veer toward it but there are strands of the Celtic further back that don’t adhere to this). Bunting leaves surrealism behind. Joyce moves in his own orbit. The revolution of the unconscious voice leaves almost no room for intention toward social organisation… I picture Yeats re-reading Hopkins and not knowing what to make of it (and ditto Mallarme?) It is easy to buy the no-hierarchy thing if you’re raised vaguely Celtic and, at least, non-committal regarding monarchy. They get confused. But our monarchy is not aristocratic… not Brehonic. It is a clutch of black magicians. An aristocracy of artists? How could that cohere? Every man an artist, or at least artistic. Property is theft??! Property is I! The glory of the hearth, the wonder of lineage. Woman, the home maker.
Time is a cauldron. Presided over by the crone. The crone fell. Her worshippers did not. Yahweh and Yaldaboeth know that we blame ourselves for their evil. And exploit it. Which cannot be Baudelaire. I believe in Yaldaboath as a force of pure evil, present on the earth. Why? I am a power… and yet won’t simply accede to Nietzsche’s ‘this world is the will to power, and nothing besides…’
Only a matter of nomenclature separates myself and John Lash. Gaia, and not the crone? Why not? The Cailleach. And all songs sung to her. I would like a lyrical supermarket. A sing-song marketplace. Entering a cheese shop in Kirkby Lonsdale. A man, at the back of the shop, playing a piano. That’s the cailleach, all right. That’s poetry. My sister, giving birth to a child. The houses my family have lived in. The ghosts, therein.
The resurgence of Christianity, as congregation. But not each man sitting at home reading the Gnostics. People going into a building and singing hymns together. An Oasis concert. Pluralize and traditionalize simultaneously goddamit! The Irisher, returning to his language (Michael Hartnett). The Irisher reaching out beyond his language, and the society an invading language have put in place (Joyce). Simultaneously. Language is just a body. You put it on. You take it off. Important. Centred, tho… not spiritualism, necessarily… not Catholicism. No reward in the hereafter. Reward at the centre. In the midst. The mid-life crises… where all the conditioning wears off…? Whatever you want to do with your language is your own business. Blessed with a body, a man can set up a myriad relations and devotions. Children occur. The wonder of children. In the same way, you can sully your language, your body… your mind. Moloch only comes if you will him. On the other side of an owl is the other owl. The pan-dimensional bird.
Tanolni. The verb, in Hungarian. To learn. That is the usual translation. Hungarians do not properly know when to use the verbs ‘to study’ and ‘to learn’ in English. They conflate in one what we have two for. We know it second nature (Second Nature! Let that sink in!) The predestinational appears again in my life. Why? I conclude that there is something odd about to learn. We learn despite ourselves. The Fates take hold. To study implies intention… we can also learn with intention (learning to swim, learning to drive) but, particularly in the past tense, what I learned is not what I studied. Study is the wilful. (It’s a Wittgenstein jag). Learning crosses consciousness and unconsciousness.
But still Nietzsche took his hold on me. An old debate with an ex-girlfriend, Japanese-American. Californian.
I felt, even then (2000) that there were the weak and the strong. That one must attempt, and pick out, shows of strength. Not the moral, after Nietzsche… but of the personal (which the Barthists loathe). Displays… and presentations… of personal strength. What might they be? Boxing, is one. Why do women flock to people like Mohammed Ali for beating someone to a pulp and then despise, and philosophize on, the awful morality that engenders all forms of violence. I’m with the gun lobbyists. Protect yourself. Write a poem. Shoot an idiot (and if you get it wrong there’s only you to blame). ‘To live outside the law you must be honest’. No… to be the law you must be honest. We do not – collectively – live under any law but God’s. BUT still require a system of law. Just not this one.
Then there is also process. Learning. I am mystified. I was studying but I didn’t know it. My father cannot recall the funeral of my maternal grandfather. It plagues me. To have been alive for it. Yet it has entirely slipped his mind.
Ah, the baby-boomers. A wise man sees not the same tree as the fool. I am dying… when it happens you get to be the wise man.
If I am going to be perfectly honest there is only Pascal and myself. And my wife? And my dog. And a smattering of very few poets. When I lost interest in the American poets I felt, resolutely, like I was turning home. The U.S is home to the truly saintly and the truly awful. They all cry out at about the same volume. We do not have that in England… it is just a lot of Oxbridge idiots in the marketplace, and the mildly intelligent avoiding them like the plague. Brexit changed something though. The problem is that the people with good sense do not have the vocabularies to enunciate their good sense. My family, for instance… they’re grossly mistaken and fearful about a lot of ideas… to me, at least. But they give me strength. One does not get the sense that they’ve strayed from a ‘right path’… but if you ask them about the right path they would not be able to tell you. And they would take the piss out of you for asking. Yet, look out on the mediac sphere and you could quite easily reach for the razor blades without a second thought (a second thought? How is that possible…? There are only new thoughts, then other, lesser thoughts…?)
Whitman called them The Hooters.
The describing of events bores me – ultimately – because I am not merely the body. This is why a sexual revolution is nonsense. There are only so many things you can do with the body… pornography is that bodily aspect set in perpetual repetition. Pornography event-izes. Events are necessary and practical… but they don’t vitalize you.
Language is very violent and amazing. Say ‘I think that the world is flat’ or ‘Hitler was right’ to the wrong person and you will be in no doubt that language has its power.
We talk to each other more than we have sex with each other. And we would never get laid without language… although certain people claim that dancefloors, nods and winks… whisky, beer and weed, can do the trick on their own. When people from different cultures have a tiny vocabulary between them and a great need for sex do they tend to have sex more than they would if they shared a language with a much larger vocabulary? But it doesn’t seem to last long, and the sex might get boring quickly. Similarly, what is happening to a woman during an immense and elongated orgasm is very hard to define in words. If you could describe it adequately there would be no need for sex. Hmmm.
Writing, then, is not a physical thing. It appears… but is not of. Pornography is when a thing both appears and is of its appearance. Writing always implies otherness. If great art is other, in some fashion, then it would be true to say the dimensions exist, as the mystics, and other researchers, have implied… and that writing exists in multiple locations at once, yet, only appearing through the sense organs in a singularity, of some sort. This is why the whole debate about the end of the print book seems dull. The Imperative behind writing, and – consequently – behind the book does not adhere to any formalism. The book, as tekne, simply redefines itself in accordance with its initial spiritual principles.
I think listening to people say musical, poetic things interests me just as much as sex. But this means I am a man who has lost his edge. Here is Mahler 3. Say no more.
Sex, alone, will not also tear down all 15 dimensions to the floor tomorrow. The good serpent knows this. You have to ask him nicely. If I did want to reach another – possibly different – dimensional realm would I die? Disappear. Or would god have me die? The need for drink and over indulgence (a self-destruction of the body) often comes with periods of intense inspiration. Death – mortality – inspires great art more than sex. Dante must’ve known this (and the Beats did not).
That’s what got me interested in Colin Wilson’s ‘The Origin of the Sexual Impulse’. If there was another power above music in Nietzsche’s ‘The Birth of Tragedy’ then it is not anything orgiastic… although mind-orgiastic, I’d be keen on developing. Telepathy, Clairvoyance etc. But that’s old ground for me. (And I find more solace in Nietzsche’s Apollonian than the Dionysian, in that book. Ditto Yeats, apparently).
The internet as training ground for some type of mental channelling. The trees are still singing, though. The senses do not adhere to them, that’s all. If surrealism is anything it is admitting a thing before the senses do…? The true hinterland wilderness. Tir nan Og etc.
I am lucky. Possibly the greatest orgasm one person has in an entire life does not equal the silent gladness I feel sometimes walking along a winter street, or watching the leaves move slowly across gutters. I am sad when I do not pay attention to that (meaning; not because I am not paying attention to it… but my sadness is a not-seeing of something. True-time knows this). That gladness, though, does not generate children. Is sex, then, more important than art? My gladness depends for itself on someone’s else’s orgasm, long ago. But, ultimately, the comparison is poor.
Still, the creator does not give a hoot for my gladness, although I feel I glean him via that gladness. I glean him also via sadness, or via any mood, but only in that mystic gladness do I feel him? There is, in me, an attempt to close the gap between reflection and sensual absorption. There’s ‘good’ and ‘bad’ in enjoying one’s pain, or seeing a certain gladness in grief or pain. How? If momentary, one can have that ‘Beautiful Tears’ moment; livingness-of-pain etc. But this palls after a while.
In my sadness a creator feels me? I have lost him by his feeling of me in my stead, my less-present-ness. I feel possessed of myself most when I am lost to the creator. When I am happy. Which is why Tarkovsky talks about not really reaching for happiness via art.
When a relative dies a pang of sadness appears in your heart. Then you get on the phone? Or the other way around? The animals know.
All my life of writing poetry… it all comes down to wanting to chirrup like a sparrow…? I think if I tried to chirrup like a sparrow for long enough then I could become a sparrow, if only for a very brief time (that is Taliesin, right?)
A sparrow’s philosophy does not include philosophers? Take that, Plato!
But is that altogether true? Perhaps the reason I’m a man is because I already got bored with being a sparrow. Is there a transmigratory hierarchy? I forget what the alchemists say. Aristotle must’ve talked about it. If I’ve already been a sparrow would I, by instinct, want to be one again? After you’ve been all the animals is there only man, gods, and God left to be? Or is that too classical? On Tuesday you might want to be a sparrow. Then, on Thursday, you might prefer to be God. And vice versa. Does God ever get bored of being himself…? OR does the fact that he’s God mean he doesn’t care to be anything else. How would he know to choose to be himself? God happened when men got tired of describing things. He had no choice… at least in our conception.
Does all good art say ‘it is bad, but it will get better?’ Or is that just me? Which doesn’t take into account the Greeks. No, all good art says ‘I felt this’. But is there any accounting for feelings? The ‘accounting-for’ is simply more feelings. Feelings wrapped in vocabularies. Vocabularies wrapped in feelings. Post-modernism thought that the two could be separated. Most feelings are simply not very interesting. Which means I have come this far. If one person says something very heartfelt it can mean nothing… if its wrapped in immensely dull, clumsy language. You can feel it in a person… but do you empathise better when their feeling’s aestheticised. Opera, for example… in the opposite way… it feels very aestheticised, almost unearthly. And yet it comes from the same well as a mate sayin’ ‘she’s a bit of all right’ down the pub. Some people like opera. Some people don’t like opera.
I must admit; I don’t share most people’s interests. And my interests, I think, have gotten fewer as I’ve gotten older. But those fewer things are more intensely felt. These incredibly intense feelings often get me into trouble around people who have a wider palette of interests, and a more variegated feeling for them. Ignorance, then, is a dissipation of energies (or the plasm, as Lawrence would say). Bruckner once said that he was only interested in God. I feel the same. But it is not the God of the priests. It is the god of life. With death at its centre. I am afraid of dying a little. But not of death. But that’s been said before.
There is so much to be said about death. It’s incredibly funny… given that there’s nothing in it. Because there’s nothing in death there’s much to say about it. But not much to be said about sex? Or a sexual experience? I don’t go around talking about sex to people very often. There’s not much point. And that’s not for shyness. It’s because I like sex.
Han Yong Eun’s ‘Love’s Silence’. The Korean patronymic ‘Nim’ is used for Love in this translation. All living human beings can be named with that patronymic. It has also been translated as ‘all things yearned for’. The Welsh; a corollary in Hiraeth? We are not what we are. We yearn for it. We are here to yearn for it. If we were not here we could not yearn for it. The yearning between one lover and another seeks to replicate the first yearning that suffuses the initial breath.
I notice people don’t use that term ‘lover’ much. It demarcates a, for-the-most-part, physical relationship with someone. And yet, when I hear most people use it, I do not feel most dignify that word with the quality of their relationship. In fact, I’m suspicious that most people even know how to have sex properly. I think someone with an incredibly eloquent facility for language usually means they can at least perform. But they must be poets, musicians etc. I’ve always had two constant feelings about this… after being fairly cogniscant of what sex was.
First, why were the people doing all these rather drab activities and spending only a tiny portion of their time actually shagging? That was my first thought… then I also thought that, if it was indeed occurring (which it must be, given new children fairly often appearing on my social horizons) that most people, regardless of the reproductive value of the thing, weren’t very good at it. How did I come to this assumption? Well, because they had no talk in them… no principles… no conceptual eagerness for each other. I’m not arguing for any hippy-esque revolution but, surely, I felt, it would be best if – regardless of whether sex was simply a grappling for the conjugal or in order to produce children – they might organize and create a social order that would most effectively allow this to occur. The buildings that they’d created as places for them to meet didn’t cheer them, and so didn’t make them seem cheering to each other. All the infrastructures, and architectures of a fully functioning civilization would be geared towards this, in my mind. Yet the way most societies are set up seems almost as if they are designed to stop this occurring. A kind of anti-life sensation clinging to people.
Sensual life is a pig in a dress. A necessary pig. But let them get on with it. They most probably do not need you at all. Until a century and a half later. The better you are… the longer it takes…?
“William Blake, an unfortunate lunatic, whose personal inoffensiveness secures him from confinement, and, consequently, of whom no public notice would have been taken, if he was not forced on the notice and animadversion of the EXAMINER, in having been held up to public admiration by many esteemed amateurs and professors as a genius in some respect original and legitimate. The praise which these gentlemen bestowed last year on this unfortunate man’s illustrations of Blair’s Grave, have, in feeding his vanity, stimulated him to publish his madness more largely, and thus exposed him, if not to the derision, at least to the pity of the public… Thus encouraged, the poor man fancies himself a great master, and has painted a few wretched pictures, some of which are unintelligible allegory, others an attempt at sober character by caricature representation, and the whole “blotted and blurred” and very badly drawn. These he calls an exhibition, of which he has published a Catalogue, or rather a farrago of nonsense, unintelligibleness, and egregious vanity, the wild effusions of a distempered brain.”
Robert Hunt, The Examiner, 1809
Then, also comes the feeling that there is something absolutely right and as-it-should-be in people (?)
This is almost the mystical Lawrentian self, in myself, I discover here. Lawrence is a mystic in some sense. But he had a long and hard road… and bitterness set in. But that, even in bitterness, he used it to its uppermost. ‘The Plumed Serpent’, for example. They call it a Fascist book. I don’t see it. The unevenness in Lawrence… that seems somehow correct, also. He was at the epicentre of what became the term illuminism later on.
In a great exemplar, a great artist, all the work ennobles itself… by flaws, also… and thus ennobles those who are witness to it. Also why technique – after early initial struggles by a writer – counts for so little… and, unfortunately, instruction, as well. Dylan Thomas knew this. In fact the Celts know it well. Thomas and Yeats with their fantasy novels and mystery thrillers… their minds become set round pure entertainments… a bodily intuition that the journalistic world, the life-world they were propounding was noxious. In no way the substitute for dreaming. They stop looking for ‘the information’ in a writer. An exception to that might be Pound? Is that a weakness or strength, in this? The weakened American blood-line – at least in its socio-cultural sense – implies the hardnosed gadget-man in Pound. The least fantastical element. But this might simply be the youth Pound, as an American, brought to modernism. There is a theory that any mixing of the blood – or broadening of the cellular waters? – disallows the mystic or shaman direct contact with angel or guide etc (I’ve always had this element in my thinking on poetics, I think… I’ll get to that later).
One learns how to be a writer. One doesn’t study it, ultimately. Although studying helps… especially when one wants to strike up relationships with other writers. Most writers disappoint me immensely. I’m not similarly disappointed by plumbers. In fact, most plumbers amaze me. And they don’t seem to do a bad job… at least – for the time I watch them – they don’t seem to be fucking it up big time. I hear of the results of some plumbing jobs that can be catastrophic. Not so, for writers. They wax and wane like the moon. A catastrophe, for them, might be the non-attention of readers. Also, the great writers have gotten over this, in some sense (and they may well be established in the public mind while inattentions and misunderstandings occur). I’m not sure a truly great writer would give a toss about whether they’re understood, in their writing. They might care if their wife couldn’t give a stuff what they were on about, over the dinner table, but the enclosure of creation – to a great degree – secures them from that. Obviously, for the mediocre, these things are life and death.
Politics is what a writer uses to improve his writing. Or at least he very much is invited to do so. Not so for the plumber. He simply needs the kit. And a tried-and-trusted method. A writer is not limited to location… one of the reasons politics can be useful to a writer is it is not purely limited to location.
A Farage happens in one place, and a Le Pen in another. That is simplified though… since their popularity is what is being stoked. What is dormant one minute springs into life the next.
A website named the ‘The Poem’ edited by a son of George Barker, no less. In the autumn of 2005, after winning third prize in the Essex Poetry Festival’s competition of that year, I was invited to Chelmsford to read the poem. I met a number of different poets, some of whom have come to the fore in contemporary poetry. None of these poets currently interest me… and yet, what does is that shortly after that visit (the night of which saw me sleeping in Chelmsford Railway station while the other poets had gone back to their accomodations) I also managed to have a few pieces published with The Poem and spending much of the following six months haunting the forums on that site. It ultimately ended up in my very vocal criticism of poetry competitions, and specifically that another poem of mine – much more political, a critique on British political reserve – entitled The Luxury of Reticence – had not been seriously considered for the competition. This, and other observations saw me as persona non grata on the site. An addendum to the farrago would be that I also found out that the winner of that competition was the student of the judge, and was known to him via a current creative writing course the judge –Roddy Lumsden – was running in London. This is the poetry-world corollary to the Clintons’ pay to play. The poetry industry. On meeting Lumsden – later on, in Edinburgh 2008-ish – he even had the cheek to tell me that my poem should have won.
No accident, then, that Denise Pickard and 1993 happened to me. Duncan explains his experience of Ms. Keogh. There is one figure who simply starts you writing. A trigger. A trigger that occurred in Bolton. A teenage thing. Up to ’93 I really had no sense of literature. I had very much enjoyed primary school, to a degree… and had done a lot of drawing. I remember a drawing competition in the last year of primary school, which I won. (I went on to create two series of black and white comic series. At least one of them included a cast of characters who strange extra-dimensional beings. I didn’t think about it at the time. But I think I’m from where they’re from. I take childhood fascinations very seriously… not only in myself, but with anyone).
Anyway, we were asked to bring in some books that we’d been reading. I only had a copy of Agaton Sax and the League of Silent Exploders, a novel by the Norwegian adventure writer Nils Olaf Franzen. I don’t think I am high on intellect. I go by feeling, and by passions. I am more like Poe… advancing by intuition.
Pickard, while ostensibly being in a situation of teaching us English Language, sent her students on a discussion course in her own literary fascinations which had very little to do with the standard textbooks. Even my choosing a sixth form course in English Language (the one course that would at least legitimize my professional activities, since then!) is an exercise in high weirdness. I had been away from England between the end of secondary and college and entered those courses a fortnight before they began. Choosing Literature and Design Technology was easy. But you had to choose three courses to have the A. Levels that were within their remit.
She gave us a book list. And I remember asking my Dad for a hundred quid so I could go and get the books she suggested. I even remember going to Dillon’s in Manchester to get the books.
Robert Duncan and Jewry. Reams of Moses de Laon. After Spicer and Duncan have a disagreement Spicer dies. In ’65. The feeling that black magic had a hand in some of Duncan’s arguments with other poets (as with Ginsberg?) His friend, being one of them. The Russian’s doubt regarding mysticism. Modernism will have to go, ultimately. How to equate the sacred in Francis Thompson with D.H Lawrence’s early poetry? It was a watershed moment… and it occurred somewhere around the 1910s. I do not mean that Yeats was a Victorian in any political sense… he was of a treasured era for me. I can read all of his poetry with, hopefully, a fairness. No one has really mourned the death of Swinburne, for example. The fact that Pound was somehow angered by Dylan Thomas (who, apparently, he referred to as ‘the best of the third raters’)… and, I think, it was because Thomas had simply refused to fall under the spell of vers libre and, instead, continued – as a traditionalist – to follow conventional rhyme and form. I follow the traditionalist, in poetic form, but in sentiment I’ll allow, to a minimum degree, an admittance of something that might equate with modernist sentiment. That ‘Lady Chatterley’s Lover’ was an incredibly fugitive book, I don’t doubt.
The two books I remember reading first were William Blake’s ‘Complete Poems’ and Hunter S. Thompson’s ‘Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas’. First; the solution? Second; the problem. Thompson’s involvement with the beast, reptiles let loose in a hotel lobby, seen through the L.S.D-goggles of a supposedly crazed journalist. It is a confession of the insider’s world of American west coast hedonism… and, if one reads more deeply, of Satanism and Ickiean reptilia. In the wake of the Bohemian Grove and Johnny Gosh scandals we can see what Thompson was involved in… what I was only to learn later… but the talisman of those two ‘serious’ books I read consciously led very much –and from outside the conventional church – to a religious sensibility that could use the physical body to inform the child’s innate sense of wonder.
What had you wished had happened? In literature… if Nietzsche had read Blake! …if Lawrence had taken Francis Thompson seriously. If Wittgenstein had spent more time watching stand-up comedy. If Olson hadn’t totally dismissed Finnegans Wake? (and Roger Scruton, a great philosopher, against Joyce as well).
Very few philosophers, do I retain. They are angels circling me constantly. But I ignore them, generally-speaking.
Spinoza, Pascal, Whitehead… if Heidegger had read Whitehead? Now there’s one! Heidegger ends in poetry though… while Whitehead ends in theology?
If there is a political war, a war for civilization, then it is the war for good taste, in all things. The most worthy thing to be deeply offended by is a work of art, and thus prove what art is… by the proof of an audience’s hearing. The best hearing required in literature also. Quality of listening trumps quality of speech. Which was Beethoven’s agon?