Young Poet, Old Poet

One deeply steeped in red pill stew finds himself wondering about the cost of knowing.  Who does not have that moment when he wonders whether his unplugging was worth it. Would it not be easier to make the proverbial deal with the devil, be plugged back in and relish again in not knowing from whence the puppet strings are pulled.

Anonymity, a highly priced commodity among dissidents, comes with its own costs; showing always the mask and never the face leaves a man feeling like his mask.  When the mask is cold, critical, and calculating one wonders if he himself is not the same. Does knowing have a price, or is the shedding of puerile idealism the natural bent of age? Is coldness the cost of a mask?

I wrote the following a little over a year ago on a night when the remembrance of blindness bore heavy upon me:

Young Poet, Old Poet

I often wonder on the meeting of the Old Poet and the Young. Oh, the things I would tell him. Yet, the truth of the matter wearies me. The Young Poet would be too disgusted to listen to the Old. The Young Poet would find the Old too cold, too calculating; he would wonder why we started to plan our moves ahead; he would ask about our plans, of all those multifarious books we were to read, and finding them read would regret having wanted them.

“Is this the price of knowledge?”

He would wonder when we lost our freedom, our passion, our zeal for living more than existing, for doing wildly and blindly what now we weigh and calculate.

“Doesn’t your soul ache daily?”

“Not any longer,” would Old Poet reply. “Now it comes in cycles, by moons, or by quarters, maybe. We’re more stable now, more solid, less volatile.”

“Less alive, more dead, that’s more like the truth,” would Young Poet say.

“But look at what we’ve gained: more skill in thought, more able in drawing, in writing, in any number of skills you lack and wish for.  We have greater strength, and a confidence that comes from our core, not that boldness irrationally wrought from postpubescent hipster disdain. We have a wife, and a child. Look at our house; is there not much to be glad for?”

“These things are fine and well, if you say they are, but at what cost have you had them? Where is our passion, where our love? You’re less than I imagine. You are a slave to this life, without the will to shake off your chains. You’ve traded our old chaos for still caged thoughts. And what of our aspirations? Where’ve you stashed them?”

He shook his head.

“You are happy when you ought to be sad. You’ve given up the precious jewels, silks, and crowns. You’ve sold our glory and greatness. You’ve read deeply, so deeply that you’ve abandoned yourself in a sea of words, giving yourself up to another story’s protagonist. You’ve gained sight, but lost vision. You’ve traded comfort for our old discomfort, and think the contentment worthy.” The blathering fool, out a breath,  stopped there, but only that he could pierce the Old Poet, searching him out for the silent answers.

“O! O! That is it! I’ve struck it. I know what you have done. You’ve traded the promise of heaven for the earth herself and you congratulate yourself for the deal. What you think you’ve won cost a great deal.”

“O poor, silly, Young Poet. You too will grow and age. You will make the selfsame deals and finding yourself turning slowly to understand what has been lost and what gained. How foolish that I thought I could guide you to soften the wage, but Charon will take no less than his due; no, I cannot impart to you that coinage that must be borne by each one himself. You will search out the light and by your very zeal will you one day find, wondering when and how it could have come to pass, that when all your efforts worked to avoid the protean change it was this Old Poet you became. Poor, silly Young Poet.”

Veritas numquam perit,
The Poet

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11 Responses to Young Poet, Old Poet

  1. njartist49 says:

    The title of your piece reminded me of an incident that happened between me – a forty-something artist – and a grad student – an early mid-twenty English Lit. student in the early to mid nineties. I had occasionally spoken to him in the coffee shop I frequented, but nothing that would – to me – warrant his seeking me out. Over the semester I knew him, i perceived that he had become more agitated or distressed: much like a fellow grad student of my own era who had broken down because she could not figure out watercolor washes; yet, I did not regard it as my business to say anything to him. Finally one day, he spotted me in the coffee and came in with a poetry book – the author was some poet who died young and has since been the darling of the adolescent set – and asked me to read a poem and to tell him what I thought. I read the poem and on reflection, I said the poem was puerile: he agreed; and this was his distress: he was writing his master’s thesis on this poet of whom he had obviously been a fan of in college and early grad school; yet, now he had crossed the spiritual line from adolescence to maturity and now longer felt a connection to the poet.

    • I had the same experience with Arthur Rimbaud, that is sans the Thesis, but in life. I carried a chapbook edition of A Season In Hell in my back pocket for half a year and read the poem daily like it was my vespers devotional. But now? Rimbaud? Bah. If we must have Symbolism give me Verlaine or Mellarme. There is a line in the sand that a boy crosses a boy, yet arriving at the opposing in finds that he has become a man; and as a man he puts away childish things. (H/T: Saint Paul)

      At the same time I can’t help but consider Vox Day’s critiques of the modern fantasy author Wangsty (I can’t think of his real name at the moment, this is what Vox calls him). He lampoons the work for its lack of a moral metaphysic; this particular lacking always seemed to me as the pinnacle of childishness. For who, beyond the diluted, children, and women deny the existence of good and evil? But I wax long.

      • njartist49 says:

        I do not think children deny the existence of good and evil: the “fairy” tales, myths, and legends are inoculators of moral behavior. I spent my childhood devouring such literature: humanity speaks to men about the world and good and evil; thus, when I grew up I was able to avoid the leftist poison.
        There is also this:
        “Sirach 1:15 The feare of the Lorde is the beginning of wisdome, and was made with the faithfull in the wombe…”

  2. I should have qualified that statement about good and evil. It’s existence as an ontological element is hardly denied by any short of niche nihilists. (Read that last bit aloud there’s a nice pun there). Even those who buy into relativism and multiculturalism etc. do not deny good and evil, but rather equivocate the two. Children and women on the other hand suffer from acute solipsism syndrome and are incapable of seeing the existence of good and evil within themselves, thus by their actions they deny any personal, intrinsic de facto good and evil.

    To phrase it more accurately: who but the diluted, children, and women deny that the line between good and evil is draw within each and every heart. (H/T: Solzhenitsyn)

  3. one cannot experience and think at the same time; too much logic can enslave one into not feeling the present. One can avoid that and experience balance in life. plan, yes, think, yes,.
    but be cynical of your joy? no.
    allow yourself o experience joy and the mere feeling of existence once in a while or always, when you feel stressed. Think of living in the NOW. and just feel the now, and what is it like to live, albeit the discomfort, albeit the pain, it is still a wonderful life and is a debt from God almighty

    • I don’t know how I missed your second comment earlier. Reading it now, reminding me of one of the things my young self did often. I would find time every week, if not every day, to sit alone in the woods near. . .where I used to live. Trees have a way of wiping the cynicism off my soul.

  4. Pingback: Father Knows Best: Hot, Hazy, Lazy, Crazy Days of Summer Edition « Patriactionary

  5. Pingback: Niche nihilism | Pixspics

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