12 dic. 2003

Isn't poetry a genre of fiction? If so, should it matter whether the poet's belief-system is at odds with ours, or even patently ridiculous like that of WBY? Or is poetry a search for the truth? Manifestly, it is a search for truth, and other such things, through supreme fictions. Was Yeats' problem that he had no sense of distance from his fictional schemes, that he believed them literally? It would be like J.K. Rowling really believing in the existence of Hogwarts, or Tolkien thinking his middle-earth was a historical reality. I'd like to think Yeats thought of his "circus animals" as metaphors he needed to write his poetry. Although biographical evidence suggests he really took that sort of thing seriously (Madame Blavatsky). Of course, Eliot's Anglicism, though not seen as ridiculous in the social sense, is equally a poetic fiction. What makes a religion seem not ridiculous is its degree of social acceptance and "givenness." There are no worshipers of the Ancient Egyptian Gods left anymore. Yet there is no self-evident reason why these Gods are inherently less worthy of being worshiped than any other deity. Why don't we have serious theological debates about the existence of Osiris?

Mike Snider's underlying argument seems to be that a belief that is socially rooted, the "best available world view" of the time, is deserving of respect, but an idiosyncratic syncretic view like that of Yeats is not. I can go along with this up to a certain point. As long as I get to keep my William Blake. Did Blake actually believe in his mythological system?

I'd say Yeats comes off better than Pound: Yeats knew that his celtic mythology and his theosophy was a bunch of fairy stories (at some level, I'd like to believe!). Pound thought his fascism was an objective and demonstrable truth.