Chapter 4: Learn from the Peacocks
The first question:
Norman O. Brown has said: “The next generation needs to be told that the real fight is not the political fight but to put an end to politics. From politics to metapolitics. From politics to poetry.” In what way is poetry revolutionary?
Poetry is not revolutionary poetry is revolution - because poetry is a totally different vision of life. Poetry is a metamorphosis, a metanoia. Poetry means looking at life with wonder, looking at life as if it is a mystery, looking at life and celebrating it. Poetry is not just poetry, it is approaching existence with love. Science is a rape because basically reason is a rape - and poetry is a love affair. Reason is aggressive, reason is violent; poetry is non-violent. Reason thinks; poetry feels.
We have built a world around thinking and it has failed, it has failed utterly. In the world of prose, in the world of logic and reason, the politician becomes very, very important. In the world of feeling, in the world of poetry, in the world of love, the mystic will replace the politician.
Reason is ambitious, it wants to capture power. Why does it want to capture power? Why does it want to possess power? Because deep down it feels impotent; a great inferiority complex exists just at the bottom. To cover it, reason tries to become powerful. Whatsoever is needed to be done - good or bad - reason is ready to do it. But power is needed at any cost because without power deep down one feels a nobody, one feels a nonentity. Reason is the ego-trip. Let prose be the symbol for reason.
Poetry is a symbol for feeling. It is so powerful in itself that it needs no other power as a substitute. It suffers from no inferiority complex. A man of feeling is non-ambitious. He loves tremendously but he is not a hoarder. He has a being but he is not in search of having more and more and more. He is non-competitive - if he is non-ambitious how can he be competitive? And when he is non-ambitious and non-competitive he befriends existence. That’s what Buddha calls compassion.
Yes, poetry is revolution, but I don’t know if Norman O. Brown knows exactly what poetry is because he himself is a logician. I don’t know whether he has ever experienced poetry. When he talks about poetry that too is talking about it. You can talk about poetry but what you say remains prose. One has to be poetry, one has to be a mystic. Talking about mysticism is not going to help - it is the same thing, nothing has changed. It is the same disease with a new label. Maybe the bottle is new, but the wine is old. That’s why he misses.