May 10, 2010

ATTENTION: Check out the NEW Blog!

Rather than splitting my efforts between three separate blogs, I have decided to merge them all into one blog. I hope you enjoy:

-Jon Vowell

December 9, 2009

...fragment of the forest...

(folio continues)

See the breeze through the trees
That sweetly sings with voices vast
Yet hidden, as only holy things are
Hidden, and must be hunted
By the whole man.

(folio cuts off)

-Jon Vowell (c) 2009

November 25, 2009

Against Legion (A Speculative Review)

Next January, moviegoers everywhere will be treated to the likes of Legion, 2010's first "action movie" (you'd think that we would have better things to do with our time while counting down the days to 2012). What I would like to offer here is a speculative review of the film, offering predictions and critiques based off of initial impressions from trailers and plot summaries.

My initial impression is this: Legion may see some momentary monetary success courtesy of its controversial premise (i.e., God is out to kill us, again). Nevertheless, I have a feeling that the film's seemingly inherent maltheism will be its undoing.

Now, maltheism per se is not what could undo the film, or any other work of art for that matter. For example: H.P. Lovecraft (owner of one of the most ironic names in human history) used the concept of maltheism in most of his stories. The result was that he had a primary pillar for the despair caused by his "cosmic horror". In sum, maltheism was necessary in making his horror horror.

Legion, however, is not horror. It is expressly an "action film," with its protagonists (the archangel Michael and a few lone human survivors) seeming to unconsciously assert some kind of Bertrand Russell-esque sense of "cooperation," i.e., we can save ourselves if we stick/work together.

Holding to such a "solution" is nonsensical given the context of Legion's narrative. If it is "us vs. the gods" (or in this case, God), then what does our "cooperation" matter? We will lose, pathetically no doubt, to malicious indifference, and our struggles will fade in the memory of our triumphant enemy long after our ashes have been swept away. Even the presence of Michael on our side does not help us. The odds are still insurmountable: one exiled angel and a handful of humans verses the legion and God.

Thus comes the (possible) undoing of the film: there is no heroism in maltheism; there is only despair. It does not even allow for the Nordic sense of heroism found in the Ragnarok, where even though the hero goes down, he takes evil with him. In maltheism, however, evil is all-powerful, unassailable, and unbeatable. To claim (and attempt to present) otherwise is absurdity. Therefore, the film runs the very real risk of ultimately being absurd.

As stated earlier, this review is "speculative," and as such retains the right to be wrong. The film may (or may not) contain currently hidden elements or twists that, when revealed, may rebuke (or cement) my argument. Conversely, since it is unreleased, the film equally reserves the right to potentially rise above all that its trailers and current summaries purport. I will not, however, be holding my breath.

-Jon Vowell (c) 2009

November 24, 2009

On Poetry (Or, Brief Thoughts Awaiting Expansion)

Poetry is an effect where the cause is an encounter with a "numinous other," i.e., a reality other than what is empirically provable. This encounter may be localized within physical objects and places (nature, buildings, people, etc.) or abstracts and emotions (moments of joy, sorrow, love, hate, beauty, revulsion, hope, despair, etc.) or, as often is the case, a coalition of the two. Regardless, those things serve as mediums for the numinous other. We feel as though there is something greater behind them, that they are something more than themselves, something more to themselves. All humans desire (if they are truly awake and alive at the moment) the words to give utterance to this encounter, but only the poet actually finds the words. Therefore, poetry is the utterance of an encounter with the numinous other.

Mere rhyme and meter are not enough to make poetry. As a child I was often asked to make "poems" on the spot, which meant I was to make a simple yet adorable rhyme scheme based on something like the attribute(s) of a flower or a person. Such creations, though childishly sweet, are not poetry, for they do not venture past the subject/object of its consideration. There is no penetration to the other side of things. Talking about a flower (and rhyming it with "shower") is not poetry; giving expression to the numinous quality suddenly encountered within/behind a flower is.

The mere listing of maxims is not poetry either. I am sick to death of lines and lines of various yet somewhat interconnected commands and interrogatives strung together like stacked sentences. A poem is not a command; it is an expression. It shows rather than preaches. Its instruction is experiential rather than factual. Its only "commands" in the sense of incantation or enchantment, i.e., it has captured within its utterance (like fireflies in a jar) the numinous other of its encounter, and its recitation brings that quality(ies) bubbling up to the surface of reality yet again. In such a sense, its expressions are revelations, and the poet is a prophet of what they have seen and heard. What the poem expresses in these moments of revelation may very well be true (or a truer expression of the truth), but in such cases the hearer is blessed without preaching.

-Jon Vowell (c) 2009

"In the large dark room"

In the large, dark room I sat waiting for God.
The hills had all crumbled into desolate dirt,
The beautiful faces mere specters of shame.
The words could not come out; I could not
find the words.

In the stuffed and stuffy dark I sat;
The cool breeze brushed a door I could not see.
"Let us hang ourselves," said my strange companion,
"If he does not come tomorrow, we hang ourselves."
Shall we accept springtime from God
But not the dark captivity? Shall we?
Silence is louder than any symphony.
Shall we not listen to the songs of stillness?
Shall we not sit at His feet and hear the
needful thing?

The stars have their sonnets and the sea its horns,
But my God has His own song: silence---
Thick like the itching wool sweater, twice as warm.
You know its presence on the cold winter's day:
It the cocoon that waits for the morning
Past mourning, when the world will be
as a star.

It the cavernous closing; the descent into hell
Before the ascension into heaven. Hang ourselves?
We are already dead; we wait for the resurrection.
In the large dark room we wait for perfection,
For the cracks of dawn to split the sky and cast fire
round about.

-Jon Vowell (c) 2009

November 23, 2009

...fragment of the madman...

(folio continues)

So leave us our pillars,
The concrete covens of the new witchcraft.
We recount with joy the list of our spells:

The asinine acumen of mindless minutia
  in the halls of theory and query, halls
  hollow and sick like a diseased bone,
  vomiting academic pus onto the dirt.

The clothed cubicle, riddled with red
  thumbtacks like drops of blood
  splattered across the dull gray,
  companion to the endless clocks
  nailed to the woody office walls.

The inciting smells of sewage and sin
  rising from the cracks crawling
  on Bourbon Street. Myriads of
  mothers and men (insanity
  feigning sobriety) all cast
  their children down and
  drown them in the filth.

Leave us, then, oh God,
To our cups running over
With madness and the machine.

(folio cuts off)

-Jon Vowell (c) 2009

November 21, 2009

...fragment of a voice...

(folio continues)

I am a voice
With no story to tell.
My muse is dead; my pages blank
Like my head and my face.

(folio cuts off)

-Jon Vowell (c) 2009

November 17, 2009

...fragment of the discouraged ...

(folio continues)

Against the bleak backdrop
I sense the insurmountable height looming near.
How can we be heroes when cowards command,
Making virtues out of vice?

How can we speak the enchantment
When the noise of the enemy is the vast voices
Swallowing our words like the grave?

(folio cuts off)

-Jon Vowell (c) 2009

November 3, 2009

...fragment of the Divine...

(folio continues)

I am the culmination and execution
Of all perfection. The logos -longing
That's been haunting the habitats
Of humanity.

The cracked mirror has not splintered
My light, neither is the madman's sick sponge
An end to my ocean nor a hazard to
My horizon.

I am the Constitution of all subjectivity,
And the harmony of my fullness fills up
The ever-expanding escape velocity that
Outlines ontos.

The many facets and faces of the mind's
Latent content are but a jewel, one of many,
On the crown of my head; each soul
Is but a spark shed from my
Infinite flame.

(folio cuts off)

-Jon Vowell (c) 2009

October 21, 2009

At Sandusky

"In the century old cemetery, where cracks
Etch the features of the granite faces,
Monuments to moments lost in the dirt,
See how the leaves, drops of blood and gold,
Burn off the many names of the
Mossy stones.

See the trees of the cemetery!
See the sad green limbs and woody fingers
Bearing their burdens low,
With the chalky sky slowly creeping
Through the scars scratched
Between the leaves.

See the hands that hold their final
Sacrifice, a frail yet fine offering
For autumn's fires. See the shades
Of green, like a many faceted emerald,
Give way to the vibrant death
of fall.

See the golden blood sprinkled across
The doorposts of the earth, doors
Continually open to the winds of the
World, ever receiving and losing; green
Then gone.

See now! The fruit of the fire tree is a
Shimmering star that, like a
Candle before a canvas, makes vivid its
Object: the red curtains that drape across
The arms of bark.

When the world grows weary of itself
At last, it takes the cold autumnal heat
Into its bosom and is burned to death.
Then the pure white snow will come
And melt, bringing the resurrection
Of the dead.

So burn on you trees of jaded green;
Burn on you shimmering stars!
May the burning snow rattle the bones
Planted by one, who in fear
and trembling, leaves the dead and looks
To Spring."

-Jon Vowell (c) 2009

(Update: This is a revised version of the original. The original can still be found posted on Facebook.)