Poets tell us that depth-delving visions evoked in poems, musical revelry, dreams, and psychoanalytic insights
– i.e., psychical phenomenon conjured by lyric, verse, melody, rhythm, incantatory sounds, and soul-plangent imagery revealing hidden truths – can partially restore what has been lost to ego-shunted aside consciousness… Orpheus can pass into the underworld and back – but Eurydice remains lost to shadow.
We only live half way in the world; the rest is mystery.
Federico Garcia Lorca termed the alchemical marriage of subterranean and terrestrial realms: Deep Song: An auto-chthonic music that allows us to live beyond ourselves… to glimpse larger, more nuanced realities, thus escaping a self-constructed prison imposed by believing the world of subjectivity and habit is the only world possible.
By a poetic descent into the underworld, one is confronted with truths that only can be revealed in darkness. It is in the innermost circle of the frozen hellscape that Dante looks upward and views the spheres of Heaven and gazes upon Beatrice. When his tale begins, the poet is lost in a dark woods, his path block by a hungry she-wolf and a ferocious leopard, and then the iron gates of Hell, posting the famous sign regarding hope forever abandoned, slams shut behind him.
Otherwise, without a balance of darkness, one becomes light-intoxicated i.e., lacking in the will and ability to see one’s own hidden (dark) half; hence, one is prone to project one’s own veiled-in-darkness (thus hidden from oneself) motives upon the actions of others.
The mode of mind is capable of inflicting a great amount of damage on the world. Witness: The raging denizens that inhabit this psychic hellscape evinced in the hate-a-thons known as Trump rallies; so-called New Atheists (i.e., noxiously smug acolytes of Harris/Hitchens/Dawkins’s New and Risen Church of Perpetually Dyspeptic White Man Xenophobia), and the curdled libido of silly-ass, Derrick Jensen-type circles of the eros-phobic Left.
Rilke proffers a remedy:
You, darkness, that I come from
I love you more than all the fires
that fence in the world,
for the fire makes a circle of light for everyone
and then no one outside learns of you.
But the darkness pulls in everything-
shapes and fires, animals and myself,
how easily it gathers them! –
powers and people-
and it is possible a great presence is moving near me.
I have faith in night.
– Rainer Maria Rilke
Deep Song in no way resembles Taylor Swift-style bacchanals of banality. It is the chord progression of the Cosmic Blues. Deep Song wails primordial storms and collapsing stars; it sways and rocks to the relentless tides of uncharted eternity and of the alien oceans of our tide-tossed, ungovernable hearts.
Illustration by Dan Booth. Not to be reproduced without express prior permission.
Phil Rockstroh is a poet, lyricist and philosopher bard living in New York City.
Yet a bio amounts to dharma for dimwits: It defines a human being in the same manner and degree of veracity as a restaurant menu describes the various slabs of meat offered … commodified things that were once living beings.