In·ter·punct shares book reviews, art news, lit theory and daily musings from the intimate lives of writers. It seeks to highlight, in an edgy and sprightly fashion, the poetic moments that punctuate our lives.
10/14/2019 0 Comments
Meaning to set aside the obvious point—that prophecies of the imminent Maschiach, Second Coming, and “Twelfth Knight” (or what-you-will, depending on your individual faith) have yet to prove themselves true for those of us condemned to live on Earth among the realities of nature and science—could it be the case that, well beyond the ranks of prophets and angelic messengers confined to canons of religious tradition, there might be a whole range of writers, artists, musicians who have been guided by a vision of a future to come, hopeful or impossible, that defines ourselves around not solely a “Redeemer,” but the possibility of a world transformed?
Were it true, of course—were it revealed to us, in time, to be true—the scholarship of a Messianic Age will certainly be greatly enlarged (if nothing less than entirely transformed) by a retrospective examination of fairy tales, poetic epics and the bodies of art produced by a host of visionary figures who, up until this point, have not generally themselves to be prophets. And in keeping with that future, a range of artists and poets (not the least James Merrill, 1926-1995, in whose work I made a fascinating discovery in 2004, with a book long in preparation) will undress before us, like Nudes descending a Heavenly Staircase, revealing torsos, archaic but shockingly modern, hitherto completely unsuspected.
Joseph Campbell, among others, has shown this redeeming hero myth to be a commonality across many cultures and historical periods. Could it all be wishful thinking? Setting aside a rehash in particular of Campbell, I will suggest—in this blog entry and in entries to follow—that a doubled vision of our future, a path that might go either way, may well be the most circumspect way (for now) to look on the
prophetic content a range of literary and artistic works.
“For the miraculous birth, there always must be / Children who did not specially want it to happen”, as the poet W. H. Auden grudgingly admits in “Musée des Beaux Arts”, his celebrated 1938 poem. And indeed, were to enlarge our understanding of visionaries to include poets such as Auden, Blake, Milton and Dante, or even my own beloved James Merrill, wouldn’t the devil already be “on it,” and there to thwart whatever value such celestial guides might have toward our understanding of what’s to come?
To inaugurate this series, why not begin a modest proposal, an examination of The Wizard of Oz as it was originally conceived by L. Frank Baum?
In·ter·punct shares interviews, expositions, poems and daily musings from the intimate lives of writers. Like the interpunct, which is a middot used to separate syllables, this blog seeks to highlight, in an edgy and sprightly fashion, the poetic moments that punctuate our lives.