Sunday, April 12, 2009

drum roll, please...


Blame it on the bloggers I've been put in touch with over the past year, blame it on the instincts as a writer, or blame it on the penchant for keeping journals and then slowly losing focus... I feel the need to keep a focused and detailed account of beauty that happens across my path in life.


POIESIS: The word poiesis is beautiful: ancient Greek, "a threshold occasion: a moment of ecstasis when something moves away from its standing as one thing to become another." From a caterpillar to a cocoon & a cocoon to a butterfly, poiesis is everywhere, in both simple atoms bonding and in those things alive... in the words and thoughts we share budding to dreams & taking flight.

UPSILAMBA: A subtle creation of Vladomir Nabokov's, in "Invitation to a Beheading." The society condemning the main character Cincinnatus is said to be incapable of understanding this upsilamba. Reading from page 23:

"...Those around him understood each other at the first word, since they had no words that would end in an unexpected way, perhaps in some archaic letter, an upsilamba, becoming a bird or a catapult with wondrous consequences. In the dusty little museum on Second Boulevard where they used to take him as a child, and where he himself would later take his charges, there was a collection of rare, marvelous objects, but all the townsmen except Cincinnatus found them just as limited and transparent as they did each other. That which does not have a name does not exist. Unfortunately everything had a name."

The last two lines are particularly insidious. Nabokov's tale is precise with regards to Cincinattus's crime: he dared to think for himself, and he dared to think those things not already named. He dared to think upsilamba! The phrase is revisited in Azar Nafisi's "Reading Lolita in Tehran." Nafisi was a teacher of literature in Iran, but she was so much more than that. She spoke of her early affection for revolutionary ideals and then the realities of life after the Islamic Revolution of 1979. In speaking to her students about upsilamba she asks them, what does it mean to you?

Although Nabokov only describes upsilamba as an unexpected letter with which to end a word giving rise to glorious consequences, I think Nafisi found upsilamba within herself and hearkened. Although her vocation was teacher of literature, it was as a compassionate human being understanding the nature of ideological suppression that she invited her close friends (out of her students) to her home to read Lolita and other banned books. This was a crime they all could have been jailed & beaten for, but upsilamba, that personal gravity of truth, spoke too clearly to the group in her home. I think upsilamba is a personal singularity of truth. I think upsilamba is a seeker of definition. You can choose to listen and pursue truth actively or you can choose to just get by and ignore such lofty ideals as truth, and just drift through the motions of life without any need for comprehension, meaning, or purpose.

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