In Praise of Poetry.
from In Praise of Poetry
There is a parable, I do not remember whose, about art in the time of its enchantment with objectivism. By the bed of a dying woman are her husband, a doctor, and an artist. Who sees the events more fully? The artist, who is completely uninvolved, then the doctor, and then the loving husband, who, in fact, is unable to see anything. But, it is precisely the other way round. The one who sees things most fully is the one to whom the events are happening, whose mind they are altering. There is no one who can answer Job's question. To put the poet in the place of the person experiencing the event is what Rilke wanted. It sometimes seems that his speeches delivered by a suicide, statue, or madman are contrived, that they are rhetorical exercises in the vein of Ovid's "Heroides." They express themselves in an utterly sculpted manner. But more often it is not so, and they overwhelm us as extraordinary confessions. Why do we wish to see the author as real and ask him: were you really in the madman's place? Maybe for the sake of the word, for the sake of its being heard through to the end (like atheists from simple folk: Look, I'll say there's no God--will lightning strike me?). Or, on the contrary, for the love of reality itself, for the love of what reality is not: neither a burden, nor nonsense, nor the dross of inner life where all this lightning really does strike.