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The Poetry Reading

Poetry (and literature) today….

“The way of ‘self-expression’, individual acknowledgements, results in egotists, sure of the right to their private interpretations of God and the universe.”—Paramhansa Yogananda, Autobiography Of A Yogi

“Truth humbly retires, no doubt, before such arrogant originality.”—Paramhansa Yogananda

“Literature? Don’t give me literature,” Xenon was saying, “it’s finished, caput, dead. Only we don’t know it yet, stuck in old patterns as we are.”

“Alright,” he went on, calmer now for having vented, “that might have been a little extreme. Story-telling will always be with us. However, the stark truth we may or may not one day come to grips with is that all of our Western literary tradition, excepting the smallest handful, Parzival among them, has  not been an issuing out from an integral sense of centeredness but a protracted, sometime joyous, mostly anguished effort to RETURN to a lost or forsaken center.”

All of it an effort at return?

“Absolutely,” he nodded. “Only now, only in the last century or so have a few individuals truly succeeded in throwing off the heavy suffocating burden of the past. Unfortunately, they’ve gone largely unheeded, the fault lying squarely upon our backward facing educational system.”

“That the game was lost from the very outset, that every so-called Master of our venerable Western literary heritage strove with might and main to REGAIN or RETRIEVE something they knew to be lost, no ‘educator’ today would have the faintest idea of. Shakespeare, Cervantes, Rabelais, you name ‘em… all, even if they managed to touch something true and vital and could have revealed something worth listening to, were hogtied by circumstance, forced to obfuscate.”

So where are we today?

“Where? That depends I suppose. If you’re literary, a lover of the books above all else, you read with the object of becoming one day ‘well-read’, whatever that means. Maybe you get a degree or two and even become a ‘teacher’ in turn. Maybe you write and manage to get published, succeed in becoming a ‘best-selling’ novelist, the next J.K. Rowlings or whoever else is the current flavor of the month. But have you touched Truths? Will you resonate deeply within the soul of your listeners and help lift them to a fuller understanding and more importantly participation in the Life you all share? Or have you grown rich affording a moment’s escape to countless people unwilling or unable to look Life square in the eye?”

“But then, on the other hand, maybe you’re a seeker. In that case you read religious texts, new age stuff largely derived from outside our Western literary horizons. You, like so many others before you—and that is a tale worth telling in itself—turn your mind and heart towards the East for answers to Life’s more difficult questions. You go all flakey and talk about ‘chakra balancing’, ‘inner wave sound therapies’, and ‘Vedic astrology.'”

Quite the dilemma!

“Certainly. A head-full learned emptiness or flakey fringe bead-wearing pseudo-enlightenment.”

No middle ground?

“There’s always a middle way.”