A Journal of the Irrepressible

Archive for December, 2001

Marvell’s “The Garden”

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I’ve heard it said, or maybe I read it somewhere, that travel is good therapy for an ailing marriage. There’s something romantic about leaving jobs, kids, and friends behind and going to some place where it’s “just us two.” “A romantic paradise,” the travel agency ads claim about almost anywhere. Travel strips us down to our ontic necessities—which is why some people don’t travel well: they need everything. For those who can get by on a toothbrush and a change of underwear, any cheap motel room can become a “bower of bliss,” an erotic Eden. Add a loaf of bread and a bottle of wine and even St. Paul would have a difficult time getting the couple to listen. Read the rest of this entry »

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Written by Brian

December 19th, 2001 at 11:18 am

Posted in essay, poetry

The Pentralium


essay by Brian Charles Clark

A secret war has been raging for millennia. The battle lines can be roughly drawn between those who insist that empiricism can answer all our epistemological questions, and those who insist that knowing is fundamentally an imaginative act, one that is forever becoming and shrouded in mystery. Plato is typical of just how “rough” those battle lines are. In the Republic, Plato wrote of the dangers of the imagination, especially as displayed in the poetic consciousness or “divine madness” of inspiration. This is the same Plato whose beautifully erotic love poems grace the pages of the Greek Anthology.

Two thousand years later, in 1817, John Keats would jump into the fray with his eyes wide open. In fact, it was Keats’s viewing of a painting that led him to write a famous letter. (Keats’s letter of December 21, 1817 is quoted in full in, among other places, Rodriguez, Book of the Heart (Hudson, New York: 1993), pages 39-40.) After looking at a painting by the landscape artist West, Keats wrote his brothers that there were “no women one is mad to kiss” in the picture. Nothing in the painting inspired his passion, “there is nothing to be intense upon,” nothing provoked his sense of the marvelous. The hic et nunc flatness of West’s painting admitted no otherness, no “Negative Capability, that is when man is capable of being in uncertainties, Mysteries, doubts, without an irritable reaching after fact & reason.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Written by Brian

December 4th, 2001 at 6:43 pm