Friday, September 4, 2009

The Prophet of New Sincerity

Khalil Gibran and I go way back. His quotes are major additions to my collection. He slowly pervaded my literary subconscious as far ago as high school, when I first started snacking from the various authors of the world's myriad literature.

But it was only recently that I read his masterpiece, "The Prophet," all the way through.

Ye gods, it is glorious.

This man, who I used to think of as "pretty good" has now reached heights of epic proportions in my opinion. Never before have I see such writing, filled with quasi-religious overtones, but at the same time transcending it, as if scripture and dogma cannot capture the exquisite beauty of a true prophet/poet/pariah, who teaches us the path by walking it.

The work reminds me of The Bible, to be honest, or the teachings of Lao Tzu and other east-Asian philosophers. The maxims that make up a large part of the book are obviously poetical in nature, yet concern themself not with the speaker, but with the audience. This departure from Art's typically masturbatory nature (guilty as charged here!) and begins to become... dare I say it, useful.

Being a writer, I seek to find a purpose for the voice I wish to speak into the world. Until recently, postmodern irony and cynical-pessimism seemed to run rampantly throughout the scene of my life's dream, and it saddened me that I couldn't love or write without having to wear a guard against being perceived as too naive or childish, simply for honestly hoping.

Then, I heard of a movement called, New Sincerity, which is defined as such, "a term that has been used in music, aesthetics, film criticism, poetry, and philosophy, generally to describe art or concepts that run against prevailing modes of postmodernist irony or cynicism."

Voila! And I'm not the only one.

Khalil Gibran is my personal nomination for being The Prophet of this new trend, leading us in a deeply personal, spiritual sense, but who looks outward to life, instead of hermetically living vis a vi vicariously as the artist through their art. Instead, he challenges us to live as the art seek to be the artist of. To live the poetry we dare to write, and represent the world as we live our lives.

This passage is just fucking amazing that I want to share:

"And others among you called unto me, not in words, and they said,
'Stranger, stranger, lover of unreachable heights, why dwell you among the summits where eagles build their nests?
Why seek you the unattainable?
What storms would you trap in your net,
And what vaporous birds do you hunt in the sky?
Come and be one of us.
Descend and appease your hunger with our bread and quench your thirst with our wine.'
In the solitude of their souls they said these;
But were their solitude deeper they would have known that I sought but the secret of your joy and your pain,
And I hunted only your larger selves that walk the sky.

But the hunter was also the hunted;
For many of my arrows left my bow only to seek my own breast.
And the flier was also the creeper;
For when my wings were spread in the sun their shadow upon the earth was a turtle.
And I the believer was also the doubter;
For often have I put my finger in my own wound that I might have the greater belief in you and the greater knowledge of you.

And it is with this belief and this knowledge that I say,
You are not enclosed within your bodies, nor confined to houses or fields.
That which is you dwells above the mountain and roves with the wind.
It is not a thing that crawls into the sun for warmth or digs holes into darkness for safety,
But a thing free, a spirit that envelops the earth and moves in the ether."

Someday I hope I can write so well, just in the language of my birth and home.

1 footnotes:

FunkyStarkitty50 said...

I like Gibran, especially his poems. One of my favorites is "Children" because it just speaks the plain truth on how a parent should view raising children. Even with the limited exposure I had to male writers during my undergrad years, I managed to venture out and search for them on my own just for variety and curiosity's sake.