Sunday, September 24, 2006

Synchronicity, the Stoa and the Rail Splitter

Reading emails to this blog I came across an email telling me the Virtual Stoa has moved to here. So I went to look at the new site. And very good it is too. And yesterday was the anniversary of the death of Pablo Neruda. My take on Neruda ia that he was an important Twentieth Century poet of the oppressed who was a believer in the Socialist paradise that was Stalin's USSR. Octavio Paz described
"think[ing] of … Neruda and other famous Stalinist writers I feel the gooseflesh that I get from reading certain passages of Dante’s Inferno. No doubt they began in good faith, but insensibly, commitment by commitment, they saw themselves becoming entangled in a mesh of lies, falsehoods, deceits and perjuries, until they lost their souls."
That's what happens when you start seeking answers to important questions like why are so many of the world's people poor and oppressed, and discover an all-encompassing meta-narrative that replaces the need for thinking with obedience to an ideology and the personnification of that ideology.

Don't think. Just believe.

That's not to deny that Neruda wrote some great poetry that sings of, and to, the oppressed and the workers of the world. But he also wrote some hagiographic crud to Joseph Stalin that just drags down his oeuvre.

Here's the beginning of "Let the Rail Splitter Awake".
West of the Colorado river is a place I love.
I turn towards it, with everything that lives in me,
with all that I was, and am, and believe.
There are tall red rocks, made structures
by the savage air with its thousand hands,
and the scarlet sky arose from the abyss
into them to become copper, fire and strength.
America, stretched like a buffalo hide,
aerial, clear night of gallop,
there towards the starred summits
I drink your cup of green dew.

And then I thought of Il Postino, the 1995 film about Neruda in exile. And then I thought of the letter I'm waiting for from my parents in exile. Only connect.

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