Everyone wants to be right and it’s the most important thing in the world. It feels exciting and invigorating. But this rarely resonates with any lasting profundity.
To be right, sparks a temporary glow… but also, to be right… sucks. It sucks the life out of everything. At least, the way we are treating it now. It’s rigid and unintelligent.
It’s nothing inherently original; nor super interesting in and of itself. To be right has become the most banal aspect of contemporary existence.
And writing? is easier than ever, if it’s all you have to do is affect such righteousness that the veracity of your statements doesn’t even matter. As is the apparent collective trend with our speech.
Yet writing which strives to maintain some level of integrity, is more difficult than ever. Because of this culture of RIGHT which negates and insults the entire process of inquiry which writing is meant to provoke.
If you think about it too much, it’s almost enough to make you feel done with language, with writing. To just… give up. Give up altogether this burden. Because to write, to use your words – this involves taking a position. Do I need to be right, to write? Because there is more to life than being the one who is right.
The trouble is, we now shoulder an actual and deliberate cultural detachment from reality, sadly underwritten by leaders who only stand to benefit from our dysfunction. We act as if what we say is the realest thing there is, and so it is done. Deeply consequential actions abound as a result. But as much as we propose to speak truth, and as much as we sometimes DO speak truth, truth is not only what we are speaking at any given time; truth does not end with our statement. We’d like to believe that it is, that it does; but truth changes as quickly as we figure it out.
What is truth? You can’t only be right and also have the truth. It’s impossible. Truth is filtered through the material world, but it can not be caught by you. Truth is a phenomenon created by the sum total of an infinite multitude of ideas and perspectives. Truth is a multitude.
And this is why we need poetry. And all those other art forms which we might also call “poetic.”
Poetry calls us to remind ourselves how foolish we are in being so right. In pretending to have all the answers. In our righteousness against the assholes.
Because there is no right answer in poetry. There is no “figuring it out” once and for all. No one single truth or perspective. And there isn’t supposed to be. Because this would not be possible, and it would not even reflect all that art is capable of – nor all that we are capable of.
Art expresses multitude. Art can understand us even beyond ourselves, because art is perspicacious. Because art is a universe, within universes. Because art reflects reality as this complex multitude beyond one single person’s ego — one single ego whose tragic flaws art is also sure to reveal, so that nobody can be a god (but perhaps, merely part of the god we envision).
And in that spirit, this is not to elevate the poet or artist who creates the art too much. The “one single ego” of the artist or the writer – that’s just a personality. The artist, or one who creates, serves as a medium for an aspect of truth. But not all of the truth. Even the artist who specifically concerns themself with what they call “the truth” – even this does not mean that they need be considered right (though they may be at times).
To be so right and so perfect, even so irrefutable — that would be the creation, ultimately, of something stagnant. Irrefutability is stagnation. And what would be the point of that? To end ourselves?
…What is the actual end game of RIGHT?
To end ourselves, no? To be altogether done with it?
Or do we want to be in and of this universe within universes? Where opportunity and growth and meaningful progress abound? As we are in the space of art, of poetry. Art and poetry which, like science, insist that we will never be done. And that there are rarely any easy answers (especially to life’s most important questions). And we had better become comfortable with this, unless we’d like to end ourselves.
We don’t need to be right, much as we act as if. And artists don’t need to be right to create, nor writers – especially not to write poetry, which neither needs nor strives to be irrefutable. The creator just needs to show. And this is why we won’t give up. And this is why one may have all sorts of feelings about it, including being pissed off and confused and offended. Craft will continue to excel at creating more questions, than answers. More perspectives, than egos. And we must defend this liberty, this freedom and this responsibility. So that the culture of RIGHT may not undermine, enfeeble, cripple art and all its most important functions and its beauty too.
There’s people out there who really wish we would, just give it up. We all know them. Perhaps they would prefer us to be simpler, to think and speak in absolutes, to quickly pronounce reductive and hasty conclusions based on our own personal prejudices, to be more simple and easy, to dumb down. To pretend we know more than we do, pretend we are better than we are, forget we are part of a whole, and act like little gods. Or simply to just abandon our purpose, pretending we know too little, pretending others’ ideas are superior and we don’t have a right to create a space. There will always be someone who wants to take you down a peg that you were never even on. Some half-assed response to your imagination. And we can’t help but disappoint them. Truly. And this is okay. In fact whatever we do, it will disappoint someone. And that’s marvelous.
This is the reason it is worth it to keep going. Not to get more “points” as it were, because we won’t. Not to be more right than they are. But to imagine. All of what is possible. And in doing so, we will not please all. If we existed only to please, then nothing original would ever get made or done (or originality would be severely limited). Because so often, what is original begins by embodying what is not-right.
And as for the whole? Not just the artists. The “everyone”? There is the idea that if we compromised on everything so readily, then nothing would ever change. And we could not dare to hope for a better world. And this is a point.
Our better world is always possible because, in actual fact, there can be a right and a wrong — but there is in fact also, a space in between, a grey area, and a spectrum.
So if we speak truth, this does not mean we are the god of intelligence either. Thankfully, some of us already know this and embrace it and that is because we are not stupid. And because after all, it is not too much to ask ourselves, to ask others: Is our opinion seriously, honestly, the highest intelligence possible? Does our opinion represent the highest world order? Please.
We’ll do better, in today’s climate, to celebrate how wrong we can be.
This gives us a future.