Ars Philosophica Ars Poetica Footnotes Why

Plato bans the bard

As Plato would have it (though I can’t help but point out that science alone turns dirt under the foundations of his world view), the poet is to be exiled from the perfect society.
As a young man, I would sit in the canyon and read The Republic in the cool breeze of the summer by Oak Creek, escaping the desert heat burning down below in the red and green valley. At the time a student of philosophy more than literature, though the two not so inseparable now, I should have finished the book. Never read Book X. If in my youthful studies, I had come to this defense of poesy against banishment, I might have had a more focused effort in this endeavor.
Ironically, philosophy itself, could fall prey to this very argument, that it itself is contrived, created, an imitation of our actual thoughts and logic. Modern psychology bears this out. Even our memories are made over and over again. Each a mimic of reality. Our minds effort to perfect the moments we have cherished. An imitation of the empirical reality that our senses took in, stored and copied over and over as we recall it to consciousness.
Poetry is the same. We draw in life’s experience and filter it through our logic, add meter and form, plucking from the reader an ocean of experiential memory that washes over the senses with the emotion that only the reader can bring forth.
The act of writing poetry, of cataloging my experiences, strengthens the archetypal memory and brings the experience to my mind with all of my sensory data. We tend to focus on memories in specific ways. What did she say? Focusing on words. Or the image. Often a memory is visual. We see where we were, who we are with. But, poetry pulls from us the whole experience often indescribable in terms of conveying sensation. The conveyance of raw emotional energy can be confusing to logical analysis, but it presents the memory in a way that transcends the “real” and evokes the ethereal.

By Makar

Stephen Sutherlin is a designer, poet and musician. He writes poetry about life in the southwest and enjoys metrical lyricism.

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