The Absurd Self Looking Both Ways at Once
Plato said the world is divided into a world
of being and a world of becoming.
Ecclesiastes, pessimist as he was,
said there was nothing new under the sun.
Hume started a revolution, declaring:
“When I enter most intimately
into what I call my self, I always stumble upon
some intimate perception or other.”
Sartre stated that man has no self.
What he thinks about himself is created
from the gaze of others. Jung’s unconscious
has been haunting us as long as we remember.
Where are the hidden powers? And how
do you penetrate reality in the manner of X-rays?
In 1600 Jacob Boeheme thought he looked onto
the deepest foundations of matter …
Who ignores everything but
moving shadows—like the frog?
Wire the mind to rejoin the Othermind
and live in two worlds at once,
embalmed in thought forms and words:
a cup of consciousness, a flood of light,
a sense of one-ment where the new world has no sides,
no up or down—it is necessary to describe
it all at once, or not at all—it is impossible
to illuminate one side and then another,
for in moments, the other side
will become some other and thus the world
can never be fully measured (yet in the bell
there is a word that sings through the life of time).
Is this the world of complicated mathematical
relations where the objective and subjective
change positions indeterminately?
In such a vision of infinite meaning
can each ‘I’ raise a multitude of insights, rendering
its intention—.Where is all the adventure in this indecision?
To awaken in the creaky, wooden, soundless,
soulless world. Reality dribbling through fingers,
a cupped handful of wine. Should not a line
take an infinite amount of time to draw?
And how long does twelve o’clock last for?
Just ask the people inside my head
where Yeats’ old mill of the mind
consumes its rag and bone—
or like the Buddha, untie the knots
inside the mind energizing the perceptions,
reaching for the banana outside the cage, enlarging
reality pulse by pulse. Is it then the other self
materializes? When a soul is a spirit in abeyance
of tongues never muttered.
Understand this is an astral double-ensemble,
a doppelganger, where élans’ vital fires trickle
into an energy of delight, or the feedback loop
of a vicious circle where primal perception simply ignites.
To realize you are
the metaphor, just as
the world is the image,
and the soul, submerged,
the other side of Nature.
To realize that every surface
contains the potential
for a glimpse into the past,
or that ghost of your own
potential as you move back
into the rock. That is,
to enter the cave
of the mind and seek
oneself before birth, to scour
the earth for the seeds
of the narrative
and to find that great
Marc Vincenz was born in Hong Kong, is Swiss-British and has published eight collections of poetry; his latest are This Wasted Land and its Chymical Illuminations and Becoming the Sound of Bees. A book-length poem, Sibylline, is forthcoming with Ampersand Books. He is also the translator of many German-language poets, including the Herman Hesse Prize winner, Klaus Merz. His most recent books of translation are Erika Burkart’s A Late Recognition of the Signsand Klaus Merz’s Out of the Dust. His own work has been translated into German, Russian, Romanian, French, Icelandic and Chinese.