The Return of the Sensuous Body of Language
It is a review of a book that I would not have read in a thousand years, unless it had been handed to me on a silver platter, but luckily for me, it was.
The Uprising, by Franco Berardi
The author of the review is Andy Jackson; it is his lens or personal opinion that is most pertinent to this reader, because he articulated a vague notion that I had been nurturing at some point, and let it slip into some bottomless closet of the mind, where it might have remained forever, without being prodded back to life by a sharp whiff of Jackson's cautiously enthusiastic endorsement of Berardi's "manifesto", spiced with personal anecdotes.
Jackson provides an intriguing quote from Berardi:
"Poetry is the language of nonexchangeability, the return of the infinite hermeneutics, and the return of the sensuous body of language."
However, it is Jackson's own analysis of Berardi's message that momentarily appeared in burnished letters before my eyes: "I suspect that it is the tiredness and quietness of where poetry comes from that is so important." He goes on to say, "One of the most powerful aspects of “The Uprising” is Berardi’s valorisation of fatigue and limits over infinite growth, of co-operation and solidarity over appropriation and competition, and insolvency over unceasing debt. And according to him, it is the force of poetry that re-energises and reinforces these human values, to remind us of our interconnectedness."
To entertain the notion that fatigue, tiredness, and quietness might be the next revolution--now, that is subversive! AND .........it actually makes sense to my little pea-brain, because, while most of the world is stuck in the rat-race, working harder, producing faster, rushing out to purchase the latest digital devices, the inner workings of which have been dutifully following the trajectory of Moore's Law, expanding their processing speeds and decreasing in size, until the transistors are literally approaching the size of an atom........I imagine that poems (the genuine article, that is) are written by fragile human beings, who are not generally motivated by processor speed. Instead, they might be seized by the grip of an emotion they are unable to articulate, a vision just beyond the perception of the senses, an insoluble problem, a broken heart, a longing, and while enduring the infection of this state of mind, they are forced to stop in quiet contemplation and allow words to appear and arrange themselves in that alchemy of language that some writers excel in, or perhaps is a gift that they were open to receiving due to their upbringing, or their own willingness to sit and face their own mortality. For human beings are not robots or computers; they cannot and should not be plugged into equations that merely demand that they drive themselves more quickly into obsolescence, merely for the sake of speed.
How do we "return to the sensuous body of language"? Jackson admits that he does not plan to answer this question in his article; however, he provides examples of poets who sow "seeds of transformation" by engaging listeners, readers with the insights they have gained from great teachers such as Silence, Fatigue, Pain, Disability, History, Patience, and Conscience.
While reading my favorite poets, in my mind's eye, I see them sitting quietly, looking off into the distance, perhaps turning a pebble over and over in their hands, unhurriedly anticipating the arrival of a line of verse, although it will never come near to satisfying the questions that rise and fall in the mind like a tide.
In my own life, an aching thirst to witness human creativity has ripened in me even as everything I thought I knew or could trust had been shattered, and as I realize that this breaking and rending will not likely end any time soon. I am unsure, not only of my own identity, but of the direction the country and the wider world. Perhaps I am not alone in the yearning to find signs of proof that a human being is more than a machine that is used and then discarded when it has served its utilitarian purpose.
Here I am reminded of a passage from Henri Nouwen's book, Life of the Beloved:
....As I write you now about our brokenness, I recall a scene from Leonard Bernstein’s Mass (a musical work written in memory of John F. Kennedy) that embodied for me the thought of brokenness put under the blessing. Toward the end of this work, the priest, richly dressed in splendid liturgical vestments, is lifted up by his people. He towers high above the adoring crowd, carrying in his hands a glass chalice. Suddenly, the human pyramid collapses, and the priest comes tumbling down. His vestments are ripped off, and his glass chalice falls to the ground and is shattered. As he walks slowly through the debris of his former glory---barefoot, wearing only blue jeans and a T-shirt---children’s voices are heard singing, “Laude, laude, laude”---“Praise, praise, praise.” Suddenly the priest notices the broken chalice. He looks at it for a long time and then, haltingly, he says, “I never realised that broken glass could shine so brightly.”
(My youngest, near my grandmother's grave last year at Pascha.)