(after Wallace Stevens)
Some call the opacity of reality ‘God’, some call it ‘matter’.
If you dig down deep enough, what do you find? Top-spinning quarks or Ishvara’s playing cards?
A category like ‘quarks’ is made of resemblances between entities.
A quark resembles other quarks, other subatomic particles, other quantum mannerisms.
By extension: quarks might resemble any teensy-weensy thing (especially if fast and invisible).
Moreover, though they can be calculated similarly, no quark is identical to any other.
A pin, for example, could fit about 20 million million (different) quarks on its head.
That’s a fun fact: so many resemblances! But even more pleasurable to think is:
The stars in the heavens that night were as numerous as quarks on a pinhead.
Imagination stepped up to bat there, and swung itself over the moon.
Poetry and reality have one structure: resemblances that give pleasure.
Where nature keeps resemblances to its natural level, poetry oversteps those levels.
That is poetry’s pleasure: to intensify the sense of reality through extended resemblances.
The eye sees, at nature’s level, a text of life it did not write.
The mind however “begets in resemblance,” seeks a world within a world, like a painter.
When that world resembles reality, it satisfies our sense—
But the resemblances we’ve imagined, in the meantime, have added to reality a reality of their own.
In the Great Chain of Likening, the poet’s faith, fact, and practice is that:
Reality, extended through ‘resemblances’, intensifies reality’s sense;
Intensified reality is not just part of the structure of reality: it is its increase, has its own reality;
Increased realization brings pleasure: it suits our desire to enjoy reality at its height.
Poetry epitomizes our aptitude for this: to heighten and enlarge the sense of reality
By adding imaginative, ambiguous resemblances to it—
Pleasing to see pleasures to carry.
With Ishvara’s playing cards, you don’t know where the limit of resemblance is drawn.
They could be quarks, pigeons, DNA, bars, fingernail clippings, and so on.
But who is Ishvara? This doesn’t matter—resembles a card player, gambler, lover, friend.
Any resemblance chosen will shade the metaphor, and so the reality, some way.
One must be wise, therefore, in deciding the metaphors by which reality shall be lensed.
Playing cards, after all, is not limited to solitaire. Maybe they’re someone else’s cards too.
Maybe the hearts are dark, the corners cut. Maybe two holes are punched through the wax.
What I mean is: reality and its reading coalesce. It factors in not as ‘reading’ but as metamorphosis.
Starting from natural resemblances and their extension by metaphor, ‘logic’ is widened
And this widening, opening fully in poetry, increases reality itself.
Ishwara dances on the dealt cards, does not need to read the scattered face.
They say, using an architectural metaphor: DNA is the building blocks of life.
Can someone be dealt bad genes, bad DNA ‘cards’, bad blocks? Perhaps so— but then who dealt them?
Objection: nobody dealt anything, it’s all by chance. —But what else is it to deal cards?
Objection: the cards aren’t anyone’s, aren’t Ishwara’s. —OK, are they ‘matter’s cards?
What is matter? What is the matter? Why are there bad cards? (Or for that matter bad apples?)
Is this an inappropriate metaphor? How else describe fortune?
Of course, at any point, they can stop the poetic play and say: no, reality cannot be understood this way.
Or: that’s just a metaphor, not science or logic.
But how could you lecture someone: don’t make things worse with your silly playing card analogy?
Did you ever try to convince someone they weren’t dealt a bad hand?
How could modes of reaching resemblance—gaining sense of reality—be controlled?
For resemblance is not just sought in lab coats, but in hospital gowns, lingerie, army uniforms…
What is it like and not like? That is the never-ending question, changing with it what is and is not.
Such modes are as unique as each mind’s spasm of quark.
How could the extensions of things (of natural resemblances) occasioned by metaphor (poetic imagination) ever be limited?
Who could ever delimit the possible senses of reality in all the worlds within worlds?
The extensions reach as far as… a fill-in-the-blank that never gets filled.
To say ‘that is out of bounds’ is a metaphor.
To say ‘that way of speaking is meaningless’ is to police the borders of the senses of reality.
Poetry and reality the share lived sense and realization that is ours.
God’s hour is not a bear’s hour, probably, but they are ‘hours’ all the same.
What is ‘a good long while’? What does it mean that intelligence ‘lumbers’?
How many trees does it take for Ishwara to produce a playing card with your name on it?
How many fingernails will you clip before your fingers are DNA-modifying angels?
Where is the holy strand, quark’s color, nobility of bear?
These are all questions resembling questions about the structure of reality. To formulate them so
Is not a frivolous game of words, but Ishvara’s
Poetry: which the material mind, in material lines, can save.
―April 24, 2019
―Cf. Wallace Stevens, “Three Academic Pieces” in The Necessary Angel