The Line Between Logical and Literary.

What does it mean to straddle the line between the logical and the literary? Our vernacular use of the word “literal” has the connotation of “intended” or “most obvious and easily deciphered,” yet that which is heralded as the most literary is typically the most cryptic and confusing blend of metaphor, allegory, intertextuality, and imagined exploration into realms that are not “obvious” nor “intended.”

Think of David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest. At once absurd it is also methodically organized, showcasing Wallace’s expansive philosophic and technical vocabulary through pharmacological language and his pioneering use of footnotes. These become integral to a canonical “literary” text of the late 20th century. So where does this then leave the dichotomy between inspiration and rationalism? In reading of the Duende, the writer’s vehement assertion of the inspired and literary as of more value to the poet than the logical is clear. Yet, an irony remains as poetry ascribes body to sentiment in the form of words and letters, compressing inarticulable thoughts into tiny lines and swoops on paper. Our words are technically syllogisms combining to form sums of sentences necessary to create any literary sentiment or symbolism. In other words, the literary is dependent on the logical.

Could this be just another expression of the primeval dichotomy between order and chaos? Writers use both revision and inspiration. Syllogisms and sentiment. Perhaps it is not that logic is the issue, but an illogical emphasis on its utility. Engineers build bridges between lands, while artists build bridges between minds. As much as we encourage our engineers to have some sense of aesthetic, we should not discourage our writers to have some sense of rationality.    

Senses Fail and Nas, an Unlikely Source of the Muse.

I learned poetry through hip-hop. I didn’t grow up quoting Virgil and Wordsworth, but dipping class and cyphering with my friends, imitating the flow-schemes of Big L and Nas. Standing on the glossy wooden benches of the boy’s locker room, we’d unfold wrinkled sheets of notebook paper with blotted ink squiggled across its pages, jagged handwriting containing our rhymes about the 21st century teenage life. While the content was typically restricted to misogyny and glorifying drug use, my interests in the world around me permeated through the lyrics: “we need less Jihadis and more Mahatma Ghandis”

My punkish angst caught somewhere between the suicidal lyrics of Senses Fail and “N.Y. State of Mind” found body in lyrically tapdancing across rhythmic 808s and YouTube beats humming through my headphones and a portable speaker. It taught me that poetry was above all else, supposed to say something. Pompous emphasis. Elaborate surprises. Express one of two extremes, either the shear meaninglessness of everything or the absolutely undeniable awesomeness of yourself and your life. Mix proving you’re the GOAT with a knack for reckless behavior because “who cares” and you’ll get a taste for the origins of my poetic sentiment.

For a while I stopped rapping. Granted, I had bigger issues than a lack of creativity considering I was blowing lines of heroin four years ago and dealing with a whole lotta spiritual vexation. Yet once I had my house placed back in order by Jesus, and had my entire worldview flipped inside out, I now channel that lingering youthful poetic sentiment into prose and art that reflects a rightly placed pomp on the glory of God.

I love translating abstract academic concepts into narratives, I love singing sounds and phonemes about the world into rhythm, and I love pulling apart the symbolic depictions of our diction.

This Ethreal Basilica

I believe that the word inspiration speaks volumes to what happens as I engage in poetry, to be in-spired is to be spirited with a zealous creative bent splattering the canvas of my mind with words and colors and narrative imagery. I draw from this to create a “piece” and the “piece” is rightly described as only a fragment of the inner realm. That’s my source. It’s a chipped and beaten brick from my private gallery.

For me, I find the question best rephrased given this metaphor: what are the building materials of this inner life and who is the architect?

This is a mystery for me and a question fascinating to ruminate upon. I believe that the primal source is my spiritual life. I truly believe that I commune with my God and whether it is the doctrine of the Holy Spirit indwelling within me or images of Ezekiel before the throne of the Father, my Christian faith provides more than enough fervent energy to impassion my art. From the depths of Sheol in the Psalms to the Most High depicted as Alpha and Omega in Revelation, The Bible has been the foundational literary source for my sense of existential truth; and therefore I cannot help but watch it bleed up into everything I do.

Recognizing the foundation, I turn now to the walls and to the pillars upholding this ethereal basilica…

Philia-Sophia also known as philosophy or the love of wisdom. I love to discover new and needlessly complex words for simple concepts like “ontological” synonymous with “what has being.”

I love abstractions and dwelling on the particulars of words and the most simple of concepts. I am the person that makes mountains out of molehills.

Beyond philosophic ideas and texts, I find that innumerable scientific models of the world through contemporary advancements in neuroscience, biology, astronomy, psychology, and physics, all congeal into a symbiotic pillar.

Third, I’d say the relevant personal experiences with the world from my memories on high school sports teams to the back of cop cars, psych wards, and the Grand Canyon; from living in Cambodia for 5 months and hiking to Everest Base Camp in Nepal, to rebuilding homes in Toa Baja and walking the cobblestone streets of Prague; my experiences have each significantly challenged the global and interpersonal perspective that I have. Hilarious day to day experiences and soul-crippling stares into the abyss of tragedy are what I lean on as another personal pillar.

Lastly, in this meta-basilica, is reverberating the eclectic sounds of the rap group “beautiful eulogy” and alternative-rock Christian worship music from the bands “Kings Kaleidoscope,” “Citizens and Saints,” and “Ghost Ship.” Hymns and pleas and jam sessions galore, countless other bands and musical artists have sang and played in this cathedral and I know they have each had their role in carving into my walls.

I think that it is under these three pillars: philosophy, science, and experience, and in the presence of much music and art, that my stain-glassed pupils attempt to project out onto the page a poem, a picture, or some other piece of prose.