That’s why it’s poetry

Sir, you can’t translate poetry into prose. That’s why it’s poetry.

Caitlin Johnstone quoted that in a column that greatly exceeded my expectations Seven Reasons Why I Make Art (And Why You Should,Too. I began pulling excerpts, then concluded that I’d be doing a particular disservice if anyone took my excerpts as adequate representations.

But she embedded a video that was evocative, and I found a transcript. Read it as poetry, free verse:

Catalysts to say what has never been said, to see what has never been seen. To draw, paint, sing, sculpt, dance and act what has never before been done. To push the envelope of creativity and language and what’s really important is, I call it, the felt presence of direct experience which is a fancy term which just simply means we have to stop consuming our culture. We have to create culture.

Don’t watch TV, don’t read magazines, don’t even listen to NPR. Create your own roadshow. The nexus of space and time, where you are now, is the most immediate sector of your universe and if you’re worrying about Michael Jackson or Bill Clinton or somebody else, you are disempowered. You are giving it all away to icons, icons which are maintained by an electronic media, so that you want to dress like X or have lips like Y or something. This is shit-brained, this kind of thinking.

That is all cultural diversion and what is real is you and your friends and your associations, your highs, your orgasms, your hopes, your plans, and your fears… and we are told no, we’re unimportant, we’re peripheral, “get a degree”, “get a job”, get a this, get a that, and then you’re a player. You don’t even want to play in that game. You want to reclaim your mind and get it out of the hands of the cultural engineers who want to turn you into a half-baked moron consuming all this trash that’s being manufactured out of the bones of a dying world. Where is that at?

Terence McKenna, Reclaim Your Mind (emphasis added).

“Beauty will save the world” is variously attributed, but I like the attribution to Dostoyevsky, who know who Beauty was.

Then why are so many Christians “half-baked morons”? I suspect it’s because their “art” is reliably propagandistic, and they’ve allowed Beauty to be twisted into ideology (a synonym or close cognate of Johnstone’s “narrative”). Johnstone’s “narrative matrix of the propagandists” certainly encompasses Evangelical megachurches and television evangelists (I’m thinking of you especially, Falwell fils and Robert Jefress, but Joel Osteen merits separate dishonorable mention).

My contribution to spreading beauty has been singing. I haven’t sung explicitly subversive songs for about 50 years, but because much of the western choral canon is sacred, I’ve been singing tacit subversion to this secularizing culture for most of 55 years now.

I may try my hand at poetry, if I can get over the hangup that the only poetic forms I halfway know are limerick and Haiku.

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