Nothing seems desirable anymore, values collapse, you are morose? Well, that state can be made beautiful, one can give desirability to the very withdrawal of desire, and as a consequence what might have appeared an abdication or a deadly dejection will henceforth be perceived as harmonious dignity. (122)Remember that as you search for a discourse that describes the fixed significance of suffering, you would hold onto anything resembling recognition, yours, what you would call a fetishized screening. It looks back at you if only because you see. And being seen, you look again to be seen. Holbein's Christ is dead, is seen and in un-seeing, is horribly violated by the living who see and collapse seeing into live suffering, who gaze and look back or towards birth, who walk, in pain, in resurrection. How would you know goodness or humanity or God, looking on, without surmising that death is the other good: life is good; death is also. Is there an interim? Only the tension between believing you must live and believing you must die. Freud nails it: Eros and Thanatos, desire versus death, the will to live and the will to return to (before birth) nonliving, death.
But no literary theorist (so far) answers my questions without the necessary delusional impulse towards survival and I want more. I need to give more as a teacher and won't rest happily with romantic ideals. The spring course on poetry and suffering is a phantom thing I see now as a misshapen face behind the mask of our scapegoat clown, the (forgive the need for cliche) tortured artist. We write to stave off death? For resurrection? No. For this: was it for this that I heard you, great river, as Wordsworth nearly said: for this. This unseen dark, this womb, this penetration without visibility, this wound ending eternally internal. And so before my death is seen, is raped (and therefore raised to live among the living), before memorials made ceremony and ritual, made story of the meaning of my life, I make. I write. I get it out first lest I invite you in.
Can disenchantment be beautiful? The regressive is more pressing: can the beautiful be true?
I can't help it, what they will turn to, as students:
1. That suffering is necessary (and poetry in that case therefore)
2. That suffering is romantic (and poetry, etc.)
3. That suffering is empowering (etc.)
1-3 is true, I'm convinced. But how to determine the poem from here? Poem as fetish, Kristeva says, which is to say that the beginning of moving away from repetition is the compulsion to repeat, rhyme, make rhythm. Life, art, not true. Who needs truth to live?