Joel Sumner Smith

Product Manager @Gatsby focused on developer experience.
Analogical thinker in an analytical world.

Letters

An Introduction that Got Away

Often times, I attempt to condense the world onto the head of a pin. The following is such an endeavor:

…fill the element
with signatures of your own frequency,
echo-surroundings, searches, probes, allurements,
elver gleams in the dark of the whole sea.
Seamus Heaney “Station Island” XII

Each poet provides, whether explicitly or implicitly,  a justification for their particular aesthetic project. Poetry is, after all, a fine art—un-useful, un-servile; such an art needs justification. What ends will it achieve for the poet? For the readers? For the poet’s community? We might ask these questions relative to the rubric of history, culture, politics, economics, psychology, or religion. Such considerations, however, are not at least directly the poet’s; they are certainly our own. Perhaps this is unavoidable. Yet we are not at a total loss, for poems are things made of language—the very means by which we share our considerations and reflections. The poem, as a topos of the community of language, provides us with the place of sharing in our understanding not only with the poet who has created, but with other readers who also experience this place.  Therefore, insofar as our inquiry arises from and returns to the experience of reading the poems themselves, perhaps we might join our own reflection on the ends of a certain poet’s aesthetic project with that poet’s own explicit or implicit reflection.

I’m often fascinated with words more than ideas. Thus, when I attempt to insert logic into my rhetorical endeavors, I sense the voice of a sophist arising from the darkness of the mind’s trash can. It’s an intellectual weakness which I’m ill-prepared to fight.

© 2020, Joel Sumner Smith