Since, as a philosopher, I want to understand how we are to live with mortal meaning, with meaning that does not contain as a part of its nature constancy, I turn to poetizing to get glimpses of the sudden eruptions, the lifespan, and the death of meanings. Does this imply that poetizing cannot endure those meanings that, even while not immortal, have had tremendous staying power, great duration on the earth? Is poetry fit only for the flashes of gold on the serpent vita?
Poetry has us think differently of meaning itself. It is not fit for one type of meaning as opposed to another, the fleeting as opposed to the enduring, no; poetry refigures the very way meaning is to be lived. There are ways of living with meaning that attempt to give a broad arc, that attempt to secure for every portion of life a share in some unifying whole. Poetry in its greatest form shatters this preconception, and in its phenomenology of the details lets shades of meaning, as well as nonmeaning, have equal place in the landscapes of existence. We see in poetic moments, in the greatest sayings of poetry, that life cannot be contained in a once-and-for-all encompassing meaning. It spells a freedom for life, this lack of restriction, a freedom from having to constantly be a referent, a freedom for playing and frolicking into joy, into sorrow, into nonsense if it has to or wishes to. The words of poetry make promises, like all words, but not promises that are guaranteed to be fulfilled under the expected coordinates; the promises are more promises for adventure, for uncertainty, promises if not for the new, then for the dangerous, the unsettling. Poetic words, the greatest of them, if anything are a preparation for a world that reflects them, a world with its outpourings of disaster and secretive quests.
The being disposed poetically is a being exposed to the multiplicity of forces in each moment, their calls, their swansongs, self-reflection or celebration of birth. It is a being unable to say no simply because a meaning, or a nonmeaning, does not fit into the broader scope of meaning at first desired, perhaps even cultivated and receiving devotion. Yes is the word of poetry, even when it says No. Yes to there being anything, and yes to the encroachment of nothing; yes to beauty’s infrequent appearances, and yes to the presence of common ugliness; yes to world-building, world-construction, but also yes to the word of disaster or world-destruction.
We live in a world of cataclysm, unsure whether we will have readers, admirers, recipients of our work. We must turn to poetry to see what word can be given to such scope of disaster. We must, in order to be capable of joy in the world as it is, this dangerous world, be poets.