Really strong people must weaken sometimes to become stronger yet. To not take their strength for granted. Because doubt and second guessing are a part of life. And to not question something, anything, to exhibit blind faith is a recipe for disaster, or an easy life. My atheist friend is jealous of his elderly mother because for her her faith answers the big questions in life and she is secure in her knowledge of where she will go upon death. And she is happy, unruffled, full of the opiate of superstition. And he struggles with the impersonal nature of life, the arbitrariness of life, and the very uncertainty with which his mother does not toil. He is an engineer, trained in the scientific method, she formally unschooled but wily in the homemaker arts and keeping a family afloat. She worries for his soul while he considers her a great Mom but superfluous. I just have to think, when considering the both of them, and the amount of angst each experiences, she and all with great faith in a religious system or high natural spirituality are better off than those not adopting such a system. Even if such a system adopted is categorically not true. The “true believer” in whatever religious system, overall in life, happy and content with other similarly deluded souls, to my mind are better off and more well adjusted than critical, penetrating, reason-wielding scientific thinkers. Or are they?
In relation to religion this is to ask do we take a transcendentalist view which is informed more by our instinct our hunches in affirming the existence of God or do we rely on scientifically measured “truth” which invariably discounts any belief in God or “superstition” as scientific thinkers label religious belief. Apparently one deludes oneself into a certainty of belief that supplies answers to life’s big questions and in this way the seeker achieves cognitive equilibrium. In relation to
poetry the same concern might move us to either choose a romantic or modernistic orientation for our writings. A romance orientation will have us using many describing adjectives and writing of the glories of nature and how it makes us feel. Poets such as William Wordsworth and the Lake District poets of England or John Keats, Percy Bysshe Shelly or Lord Byron exemplify this school. A modernist or Imagist orientation for our poetry is, probably best exemplified by the early 1900s writing of the expatriot (born in Idaho) Ezra Pound. His life is truly unique and his political association with Mussolini and fascism, and his subsequent conviction for treason by the United States and his confinement for fifteen years in Saint Elizabeth’s hospital for the mentally ill in Washington D.C. attest to this. Moreover as proponent of modernism in poetry – the using of more concrete, straight forward, and unadorned factual prose – his influence was such that he changed the poets and writers of the “lost generation” before, during and after World War I to adopt a leaner, less gushing and beautiful writing style. Ernest Hemingway along with William Carlos Williams and many other writers/poets of the day was a great friend and stylistic champion of Pound and it was Hemingway especially who counseled Ezra not to assist Mussolini and fascism but of course Ezra always kept his own counsel though disparaging his activities on the behalf of fascism in the end. Pound always led the way and had many disciple follower lovers which doubly makes his life so interesting. Along with facilitating the modernist turn in poetry Pound also created the Imagist and Vorticism movements in poetry stressing an economy of language used in poetry and rigorous, pared down and to the point language.
So go check these poets and poetry movements or schools out. It is good to be informed about the history of poetry even if you just chuck all you’ve learned when you go to write poetry and blaze your own trail. For as Ezra stressed above all was breaking with the past and the “new” in whatever is written.
Artwork, original artwork, is now what we crave along with balls to the walls beatnik and other style poetry. Whether pencil drawings, oil or watercolor painting, collage, calligraphy, stickmen representations, pictures of beatnik cowboys or cow-women, acrylics, photos of found art, outsider art – please get a facsimile, photo or even the original if you don’t want it back into us. You will be blessed and we will try our best to show and publicize your work and make you famous. So get a jones for us and jazz us and the readers/voyeurs up, shower us with the same love we wish to spread on you. Amen.
Randall K. Rogers
Editor, Beatnik Cowboy