The other day I posted a quotation that I came across via a tweet by Terresa that struck me profoundly. The quote I posted here on Thursday. I posed the question - why do you go to poetry and so far there has been not a soul come forward to share their response. But the quote is worthy of more then just a retweet or reposting. It is worthy because it opens up my mind to larger questions. So to start with... here is the quote again:
"The reason we go to poetry is not for wisdom, but for the dismantling of wisdom." - Jacques Lacan
Over the years there have been any number of essayists that have tackled questions about to what degree if any that poetry can make a difference in one's life. I don't imagine what I am going to say is groundbreaking, but the degree to which one approaches the reading of poetry I believe can inform one's perspective on some of the more philosophical questions involving life today.
Take the business world... Author Tom Ehrenfield writes, "entrepreneurs, like poets, invent new ways to connect people, ideas, and organizations." It is the inventiveness, the creative approach to things that is perhaps the most important things man has going for him.
Today's economic issues could use some inventiveness. When certain people believe that the current debt crisis can be simply approached by not increasing the debt ceiling and to cut spending and then think others "stupid" because they cannot see what is so simple to them they fail because the problem is more complex then that and their solution ignores so many factors. These people are probably the first to run from a poem holding hands over their ears chanting loudly I don't want to hear it, don't read it. Considering the many factors in such an issue requires more thought commitment then they are willing to out into the equation.
As a people we have achieved much over the history of man by reason of our creativity. Our willingness to look at things differently then that first one dimensional approach.
Without stretching our mind, penicillin is never discovered. The Wright brothers are grounded indefinitely. There is no moon landing. Cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer's will never be cured.
I have read that more and more Fortune 500 companies a looking for qualified employees that have experience/interest in poetry and literature. It's not because they, the CEO's are looking for someone with such interests to chew the fat with over lunch, but because such people are adept at creating solutions to problems and not just adding 2+2 to equal 4.
So when someone asks you if poetry really matters... if it can save you, the long answer may just be yes!
I submit that the solution to our many environmental challenges, finding cures for many incurable illnesses, solving our economic woes, feeding the world hungry, and living a peaceful coexistence with people people from different cultures around the world all involve the poetics of creativity. Personal enjoyment aside (which I consider one very good reason to go to poetry) its model may very well our very salvation as a people.