“Poetry, Beauty, Romance, Love – these are what we stay alive for.”
The words of Robin Williams in Dead Poets Society
My thoughts of late have wandered far and wide, but over the past few weeks they have shifted back to a few core questions; the above quote encapsulates some of the answers to the questions that have been spinning in my head. So please bear with me as I unpack this quote in a wider context of what goes in inside my head – be warned it can be a scary place at times, just ask my wife 🙂
Central to my thoughts of late has been inspiration, creativity, stability and harmony; as in how to achieve these aspirations and what path/s I will explore to best find my end goals. I do find inspiration and peace through reading and music, which then inspire me to explore areas of creativity. Strangely though the words (books and poetry) and music that I immerse myself in, do tend to be on the dark side, and through this darkness I find both solace and an opportunity to see light and a future.
I find myself gravitating back to reading the first world war British poets (Owen, Sassoon, Brooke and Rosenburg), why war poetry you might ask? I can relate to their fears, despair and bleakness from my own time in battle, but through this process one begins to understand that even in the depths of despair and the bleakness of the trenches, their is hope. In Wilfred Owen’s last letters to his mother from the front, in 1918, he said that there was no place he would rather be.
Of his work he said:
“My subject is War, and the pity of War. The Poetry is in the pity.”
My work has taken me to black and bleak places on the African continent, so I am always driven to find hope in despair, light in dark and compassion in pain and suffering. I think that is what keeps me sane and focussed on the bigger picture/s in life. It helps me to gain perspective and see the forest and not just the single tree, blocking my path.
Music and poetry form a part of the way I relax and reflect (plus cigars, scotch and bourbon – but that is a tale for another day), that is why I am a huge fan of Bob Dylan.
The poetry of Keats, Milton and Blake (not war poets, they pre-date the first world war some what), also inspire me, and help me to push the boundaries, notably William Blake. He was a revolutionary romantic, he was iconoclastic in his views, notably to the established orders of the day; church and politics. A critical reading of Blake’s “The Marriage of Heaven and Hell” in which the figure represented by the “Devil” is virtually a hero rebelling against an imposter authoritarian deity, clearly highlights Blake’s idiosyncratic views of his feelings towards the established order of his day. (views that I can sympathise with)
“Blake’s theory of contraries was not a belief in opposites but rather a belief that each person reflects the contrary nature of God, and that progression in life is impossible without contraries.”
It also certainly formed part of the revolutionary culture of the period. It was composed between 1790 and 1793, in the period of radical foment and political conflict immediately after the French Revolution. It to then deals with turmoil and man’s search for meaning:
Blake explains that,
“Without Contraries is no progression. Attraction and Repulsion,
Reason and Energy, Love and Hate are necessary to Human existence.
From these contraries spring what the religious call Good & Evil.
Good is the passive that obeys Reason. Evil is the active springing
For an excellent blending of music (Electronica Folk Black Metal) listen to Ulver’s Themes From William Blake’s The Marriage of Heaven And Hell
I am a huge fan of their music, and their most recent album: War of the Roses -(2011), is a mix of Pink Floyd and Radiohead, how is that for a neo progressive rock band with its roots in Norse Black Metal!
So where does all this lead; how does this bring me closer to Beauty, Romance and Love? and a means to finding my end goals?
I actually do not have an immediate quick answer to the above questions, but what I can say is that by exploring these paths, the mist often clears and I can get to the top of the ridge and see the forest that I thought had me surrounded was in fact just a small copse of 10 or 20 trees.
What is clear for me is where I want to be, the trick is how to get there :).
One of my end games is to actively pursue a path of being a more active writer, than I currently am, and to publish some of my works in the foreseeable future (I have placed time-lines for myself on 2 of my projects). These will bring more harmony to my life, which will in turn make me more balanced (only for awhile, I am a restless soul), this then will positively resonate in my life, bringing more love and peace to my soul and those that I love and hold dear.
Until next time my gentle readers, peace, love and hope to you all.