Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Anyone who's been reading my blog for a while knows I'm a fan of the poet/philosopher Kenneth White. He was one of the first poets I ever heard read and no other reading, so far, has come close to that experience. I'm currently reading an exploration of White's life and work, The Radical Field by Tony McManus.

Here are some quotes from the first part of the book:

"Perhaps a mother is like the concentration of a culture. I believe mine was a personification of the conflicts, the contradictions, the problems of Scottish culture." Kenneth White
"I take 'seaboard' (littoral, shore) to be particularly significant space. We are close there to the beginnings of life, we cannot but be aware there of primordial rhythms (tidal, meteorological). In that space, too, we have one foot, as it wew, in humanity (inhabited, inscribed space) the other in the non-human cosmos (chaos-cosmos, chaosmos) - and I think it is vitally important to keep that dialogue alive." Kenneth White
"The Scot is a nomad, like the Scythian, his ancestor. But there is in him also a quietude. It is this twofold delight in movement and tranquility which I feel on the moors...space to move in and tranquility to see in. That is the original ground of poetry." Kenneth White
"Those little words like 'God', 'soul' and 'nation' have done a great deal of harm. That's why I use grotesque words which cannot do any harm to anyone: 'erotocosmology', for example!" Kenneth White
"I have never considered myself as 'an artist', defined either as a producer of pabulum for immediate social consumption, or as a public personage in the cultural limelight. In both cases, the artist is caught up in a complex of individual/public relationships, exactly that outside of which I keep myself. In movement, via a process of deconditioning, towards a transpersonal reality." Kenneth White
"It is not a reality, the state of things which is ours today. It hasn't the body of a reality, it has neither the fibre not the tatchiness of a reality. It is a universe of distance and separation, a world where boredom and catastrophe follow each other, deprived of depth and essential continuity. I want real reality. Everything I write is a move towards a little real reality." Kenneth White
"This is about neither idealism or realism. It is perhaps about allowing deep sensations to reach the highest areas of the brain, where they may be deployed in an emptiness which is a plenitude." Kenneth White


swiss said...

i'm a big fan of the radical field but, and esp after reading a lot of white, his pronouncements 'like the scythian' can set the teeth on edge.

way too much iconoclasm in white plus,for me, a certain mean-spiritedness mean i can only take him in small doses. but that said, still one of my favourite poets...

Marion McCready said...

yes, the scythian comment amused me :) White is very interesting to me, the Clyde and Glasgow being two of the three geographical areas that shaped my upbringing are very much part of who White is and on the back of which his theories and poetry to a reasonable extent was formed. I have an affinity with his thinking also, the dissatisfactions of existence, existentialism and nihilism too, though mine leads me to Christianity.