Digging for the Unknown

The Writer’s Chronicle – September 2013







I always find this writer’s mag interesting to read, even if a particular issue has little to offer me concerning my own perceived writerly issues. But I have to say that with this issue the editors managed to step out onto a creaky limb with what I see as a quite obvious underlying theme that can be best described by citing Richard Jackson’s article title, “Re(In)fusing Heaven.” The subject here isn’t what you might think at first blush; it’s an examination of how prominent poets view the sensed unknown beyond human life experience. Everyone, I suppose, wonders at the 95% of the universe that lies beyond the abilities of our senses to perceive. Technology has expanded that ability by leaps and bounds, but the poets’ challenge is to parse the role of language in such mental and emotional extrapolations. 

In an interview early in this issue, Andy Fogle has poet Arthur Sze intending to “expand one’s consciousness and conception of what art can do, and I believe the miraculous and visionary are always right here, close at hand.”

In recent years I’ve become fascinated with modern European fiction. This issue gives us an article on W.G. Sebald, “After Sebald,” by Sabina Murray, in which Ms Murray depicts Sebald’s fiction as exploring the mind’s functioning, such as time and memory, in a manner similar to that of poets seeking to express life’s unknowns.

And Joan Wickersham takes on the unexplored depths of love – yet another boundless abstraction – in talking of her recent book of short stories.

Late in my page-turning here, an article on Robert Bly turned up, “Greatness has a Defender – Robert Bly in the Twenty-First Century,” by Norman Minnick. Much maligned and consequently troubled poet, Bly has become something of a totem to men sitting naked in a drum circle as a vehicle to understanding maleness. But these posturings of Bly’s amount to experience, hence learning, hence a form of experiential wisdom.

In a way, these extrapolations, whether mental, emotional, or experiential, are the bedrock of all literature: this grasping for the unknown and the challenge of uncovering the right language to express it. Thanks to Writer’s Chronicle for placing this search parallel to religious dogma, but without tainting it with such.



Visit my website here, where you’ll have an opportunity to download an audio eversion of my latest, Sam’s Place, as well as select book review podcasts. Then there’s my FB Fan Page here. On both you’ll find more on ideas and events that matter to me – and possibly to you.



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