Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The Necessity (not the use) of Poetry

Usually, I am a little put off by those writings that begin “there are two types of people.” Today, however, I am not. There are two types of people, those who think that the truth is outside their own heads, and those who do not.

As those of you who read this blog know, there are ways of communicating to those in the first category. You find your evidence, make your case, and hope that either you already agree with the other person, the other person is honest enough to believe your case, or that you are honest enough to believe theirs.

To those in the second category, however, communication seems like an impossibility. When anyone communicates, they take their concepts out of their heads and put them in the heads of others. For those in the second category, however, this is very difficult for several reasons:

1: Are there any others? (Extreme Cartesianism)
2: If there are others, is there any medium by which I can send my concepts to them? (Extreme Deconstructionalism)
3. If it’s all in the head, how can my concepts have validity for others, or theirs for me? (Relativism, even the non-extreme kind)

People of categories one and two are rare, for to believe either of those two positions requires enough knowledge, education, and intelligence to ask the necessary questions. You cannot be indoctrinated into being a Cartesian because the normal experiences of everyday life indoctrinate you into being an anti-Cartesian so much more effectively. You cannot be an extreme Deconstructionalist at all and remain sane because if language has no meaning, than the statement “language has no meaning” has no meaning. But people can, and are, indoctrinated into being relativists.

Unless you are a relativist yourself, you think that they are wrong and ought to mend the error of their thoughts. Yet, it is quite impossible to communicate anything relevant to them using the method of case-and-evidence.

Therefore, write poetry!

One cannot convince a consistent relativist of Truth by proofs. Proofs deal with truths and thus have no common ground with the relativist. What does have common ground with them is that which is not true or false, those things which have always been inside their heads. And among these are desires, passions, pleasures, pains, tragedies, laughters, fascinations, lifes, and loves: the very stuff of poetry.

He who addresses a relativist must be exceedingly crafty. His prime concern must appear to be not truth, but the beauty produced when his work meets the mind of the relativst.

In fact, it would be best if his prime concern actually was beauty, for then he is honest. But then, how does he convince the relativist?

His work must be made in such a way that its beauty is dependent on the truth in it. If he writes a beautiful poem about a tree, it must be so made that if you take away the truth about the tree, the beauty of the poem vanishes. If he wishes to excite passion for the truth, the essence of his work must be such that passion for the truth is essential to it: remove the passion and the work vanishes.

If he does these things, there is some hope that the relativist, in swallowing the beauty, will swallow the truth as well, and come to love it and believe it.

The one who wishes to possess truth and give it to others must know a great many things. It is a great misfortune that some who are knowledgable about the fundamentals of truth-finding and truth-communicating (metaphysics) and who are enthusiastic about giving truth away dislike poetry, the way in which truth seduces the myriads of those who hate it.

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