A Beastly Comedy Canto 1.3

An undated note from the time I was writing the book:

There is a danger that the author of a philosophical poem produces a work that is too philosophical to be good poetry and too poetic to count as philosophy, because it is difficult to keep a balance between abstract concepts and concrete images. Philosophers and poets both tend to make sweeping generalisations, but for a poet it is more acceptable merely to imply there is reasoning behind a statement.

To clarify:
A philosopher may ask: is this true? On what grounds? How is the truth constituted, is it a specifically human truth, or are all ontologies inevitably based on the viewpoint of humanity?

A poet may also ask what is true and wonder about its foundation, yet there is usually an attempt to state what is true in more definite and concrete terms, concreteness serving as the basis of metaphor. Even if that definite truth expressed is that everything is indefinite.

A poet’s truth is always shifting between different viewpoints, even if the poem is naive self-expression; regardless of the intention, it is the nature of language to be undecidable, each expression hovering in the air between different interpretations, big and small variations depending on the readers’ experiences, e.g. what kind of spruces they’ve known and what they’re able to imagine when a poet writes “spruce”.

For a philosopher this kind of ambiguity is generally not seen as a virtue. Philosophers may use obscure language, yet there is an ambition of clarity, if not of language then at least of understanding. It’s just that philosophers may feel that clear understanding requires overcoming the categories and ambiguities of language. And of course Derrida even made a point of using ambiguities. But he has a lot of detractors too, people criticizing him just as much for his style as what they think he said about the relationship between the language and the world.

Poets may aim at the root of being as well, but the primary concern or the method is not the same. Rather, it’s the whirlpool, the flux in which language and reality become muddled until you do not know where the subjective ends and the objective begins. Hence, for example, it is possible for a poet, or any author of fiction, to dive deep into subjectivity in the hope of finding something universal. Or also, as in the case of this work of mine, to embrace fiction, the false reality of my narrative, so completely that it becomes possible to examine truths that are too horrifying to face in a real setting. Namely the dark side of humanity.