If the artist is not somewhat angry or at least at odds with the world, I dont consider him or her much of an artist. (Maybe I’m speaking more of writers than any other practitioners of the arts.) The artist is shooting himself in the foot trying to be a saint. And if he is a saint, by whatever definition, I for one am not much interested in his art. I dont care about saints. Put otherwise, art that purges itself, or even seeks to purge itself, of every last vestige of anger and rebellion is flirting with irrelevance as far as the world we thinkers and artists know and have always known goes.
Ezra Pound wrote, “The value of music as elucidation of verse comes from the attention it throws on to the detail.” For us friends of the devil, the truth of this statement gives new meaning to the saying, “the devil’s in the details.” For the writer, especially the poetic writer, the details, or nuances, are all-important, are what count and what gives both poetry and prose their justification.
The history of religion, of theology, shows us that God generalizes while the devil, who ought to be the poet’s muse and the one who inspires his music—if you know the devil I mean: the real devil, not the fake, stereotyped devil of myth and religion—this devil particularizes. Which is what literature ought to do. In him the details sing and literature proves its worth (even if it pretends, as with Rabelais, Cervantes, Henry Miller, et al, to be praising God.)
If I had the stamina I could be writing poems every second of my waking life. My dreams alone would provide enough fodder, never mind all that happens in waking hours. They may not be good poems—whatever that means—but they would be poems. They would be verbal recreations of a life that never sleeps, a life replete with the movement, the rhythm, the images and meaning of one who is alive and not dead yet.
Terribly, beautifully alive. Terrible because even my romance with death is life. (A fact of life which need not alarm anyone because I’ve learned to live with it, even make poetry of it.) Beautiful because all that lives, as Blake said, is holy.