Saturday, March 17, 2012

A Wonderful Piece of Poem

I heard much of a poem recited by Sonja Sohn on an interview with NPR, here is a wonderful excerpt from "Run Free":

You can give birth to an excuse so easily, you'll believe it's always been there. Part of the natural order, made to order by your forever clever mind, constantly protecting you against things you no longer need to be protected from...and i believe. i believe like a holly roller singing sweating preaching go tell it on the mountain speaking in twenty different tongues while diving in ten thousand feet of baptismal water without a life preserver. i believe like my bullet-ridden brother out there somewhere right now gurgling blood through his last breath, spitting out a red ripe prayer so new so sweet so baby fresh so full of truths he thinks it can save his life. Brutal honesty won't knock down the doors of heaven, but it'll damn sure crash the gates of hell.[1] (Italics original.)

What stood out to me was the last line I quote,

Brutal honesty won't knock down the doors of heaven, but it'll damn sure crash the gates of hell.

Given other content of the poem, and given rhetoric proposed for the movie "Slam", about finding "light", and so forth, through personal tenacity and creativity and rising above, I think of Voegelin's critique of the symbol usurped by modern ideology, but emptied of its context and substance, and becoming therefore dangerous, and I doubt the weighty significance of my favorite linejust given is understood by the author of this work for the eternal significance of such terms, and another figure comes to mind, Socrates, and his infamous "apology" in which he speaks of the poets,

After this I went to one man after another, being not unconscious of the enmity which I provoked, and I lamented and feared this: but necessity was laid upon me - the word of God, I thought, ought to be considered first. And I said to myself, Go I must to all who appear to know, and find out the meaning of the oracle. And I swear to you, Athenians, by the dog I swear! - for I must tell you the truth - the result of my mission was just this: I found that the men most in repute were all but the most foolish; and that some inferior men were really wiser and better. I will tell you the tale of my wanderings and of the "Herculean" labors, as I may call them, which I endured only to find at last the oracle irrefutable. When I left the politicians, I went to the poets; tragic, dithyrambic, and all sorts. And there, I said to myself, you will be detected; now you will find out that you are more ignorant than they are. Accordingly, I took them some of the most elaborate passages in their own writings, and asked what was the meaning of them - thinking that they would teach me something. Will you believe me? I am almost ashamed to speak of this, but still I must say that there is hardly a person present who would not have talked better about their poetry than they did themselves. That showed me in an instant that not by wisdom do poets write poetry, but by a sort of genius and inspiration; they are like diviners or soothsayers who also say many fine things, but do not understand the meaning of them. And the poets appeared to me to be much in the same case; and I further observed that upon the strength of their poetry they believed themselves to be the wisest of men in other things in which they were not wise. So I departed, conceiving myself to be superior to them for the same reason that I was superior to the politicians.
--Apology by Plato, Translated by Benjamin Jowett, retrieved 2012-03-17 21:13PMST

I must be clear, however, I don't doubt that these words are meaningful to the author; they are not, actually, significant only to her: they are quite clear to this reader as well. I know the religious symbols and milieu she describes personally. They are very concrete, and reflect her history. The brother gurgling blood certainly is: she spoke in her interview of her brother who was, sadly, gunned down. I have a former step-brother in prison right now, possibly for life after trials take place, and through him exposure to culture rather similar to that she describes growing up in; even hell as a metaphor here is certainly fitting, as the environment she speaks of growing up in was pretty bad, and perhaps she speaks of contending with it and the mindsets and excuses and things which caused herself and those around her to create and haunt such a milieu: I say create, for my brother certainly did not grow up in a ghetto, but he and those he associated with, through influence of pop and hip-hop cultures, certainly created something like it, and crime and violence, and dissolution: and their own misery--without being born into disadvantages like as those suffered by people who occupy famous "hoods".

[1] retrieved 2012-03-17 from,+you'll+believe+it's+always+been+there.+Part+of+the+natural+order,+made+to+order+by+your+forever+clever+mind,+constantly+protecting+you+against+things+you+no+longer+need+to+be+protected+from&source=bl&ots=MECpBNG46A&sig=Gp4WRkIiJLS8jEx8_L7oIlMsS9w&hl=en&sa=X&ei=ClNlT-HQOZKDsgL4ruG2Dw&ved=0CCEQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=You%20can%20give%20birth%20to%20an%20excuse%20so%20easily%2C%20you'll%20believe%20it's%20always%20been%20there.%20Part%20of%20the%20natural%20order%2C%20made%20to%20order%20by%20your%20forever%20clever%20mind%2C%20constantly%20protecting%20you%20against%20things%20you%20no%20longer%20need%20to%20be%20protected%20from&f=false

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