The Hermit Poet

October 24, 2005

Synthesis: A Certain Alchemy

Filed under: General — Neil Aitken @ 11:55 pm

At the end of the day what I’m really after is the creation of a text that an amalgam of these three approaches. I want to write in such a way that there is a deep emotional and spiritual resonance in the language, a lyricism not born of artifice but of some vision of the world that lies beneath the surface of this one. I feel (at least for poetry) that sometimes fact must take second place to the emotional truth of the moment. In writing creative non-fiction, the challenge is finding the correct rhetorical moment – the kairos – for speaking. Perhaps what I want is work that operates much like a Zen rock garden whose completeness cannot be observed from one vantage point. Both the writer and the reader must move and try different views before the garden’s beauty can be opened to full appreciation.

If writing is part invocation, then it is akin to the way I program. Each line calls out to the next. Or more precisely, I write and reread what precedes it. Then I place a demand in my mind for the next line. Then I write that line and the next until I can go no further. Then I reread from the beginning till something new appears. At times I am a compiler stopping at every mis-coded sequence, reworking the faulty lines till the eye crosses over the length of the piece without being halted by inconsistency or error.

Writing remains a revelation of the world and of the self. I maintain a deep belief in purpose and meaning. That the elements that surround me have significance. That the fundamental language we speak is image and sound – to understand the world in detail is to move toward fluency in that language. Confucius once taught that calling things by their proper names is the beginning of wisdom. I believe this implicitly. But paradoxically, I also believe a fundamental idea from computer science, that the shortest most accurate description of a program and its workings, is the program itself. That is to say, the only name for a thing is the thing itself. A poem simultaneously describes and enacts what it describes. It is a condensed form of emotional reality.

Perhaps what I’m saying is that I am looking for a home. And the poem is looking for home. And emotional truth that triggered the poem, is looking for a home. And we’re all looking for names for ourselves and our experience. The three of us. The text where we meet – this brief intersection which may or may not bring us back together in the future. But it becomes a document of that moment and a window on all three.

2 Responses to “Synthesis: A Certain Alchemy”

  1. Justin Says:

    Cool post. Speaking or thinking the name of a thing or a person also gives one power over the thing or person, according to some.

  2. Paolo Says:

    Yes. But what of revision? What about change over time…can there ever be a home to return to that is not different each moment of our lives?

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