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The Poem as Subversive Art

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  • The Poem as Subversive Art

    Over the past near-decade it has become abundantly clear that no two people looking at Mr. Fenn's now world-famous poem 'see' the same thing. One might argue such is always the case with art (or any act of perception for that matter), an idea with which I wholeheartedly agree -- for perceiving is truly a creative act. And yet the question lingers -- can an artist intentionally imbue his creation with a certain protean-quality, which by-design enables said creation to shimmer diversely under various lights and the observation of different minds? Sundry facets with several layers, each instilled with the unique ability to dazzlingly reflect the hue of a beholder's eye? Don't we all see a sliver of ourselves in this poem, our inner-selves, which is to say our thoughts, personal bents, and beliefs? The real question is -- does our personal act of 'observing' alter the 'reality' of the poem itself?

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    The Christian reads the poem and is stricken with religious narrative, the Pagan sees his Odin, the nature-lover babbling brooks and rushing rivers. The cynic shrieks away in disgust at his own unfortunate reflection. Fenn's poem, in this sense, is something like an enigmatic disco ball, a multi-dimensional song of the Sirens, or perhaps the petrifying gaze of a Medusa. The poem 'must' be looked at to be understood, but the moment we look, it has us in its thrall. {"That which you seek is also seeking you."} The poem itself is a mirror made up of tiny mosaics -- and perhaps requires the employment of another in order to counter-act its reflective quality ... there's a certain protective, Algezian spell, which seems to have been cast over this poem allowing it to be viewed but not fully seen.

    So how then, "subversive?"

    We are all, when we look at Fenn's poem, seeking ... answers. Only, there allegedly exists only one 'true' answer which will unlock the riddle.

    At some point we have to start looking beneath the facade in search of deeper truth; we have to stop being so literal (and at the same time so metaphorical) and become perhaps 'literal' in a different sort of way, simultaneously getting 'in' the box, while searching 'outside' of it. What does this confusing concept even mean?

    Fenn says to read his book, then his poem over and over, then go back to the book searching for points of potential connection-- somehow indicating that the wisdom in the poem can be decoded or deciphered by reflecting on the narrative which precedes it. How might one go about doing this?

    An example:

    The below lines taken from Fenn's poem all undeniably echo religious rhetoric:

    "End is drawing nigh"
    "Treasures New & Old"
    "No Place for the Meek"
    "Go In Peace"


    Only, Fenn has told us he's not particularly "religious."

    We must then ask ourselves -- what 'is' the intended message? What is the quickened, more 'catholic' wisdom conveyed by such seemingly stale, liturgical language?

    I would argue, as Fenn suggests, we must look to the larger text for potential hints or bread crumbs (perhaps ones not so easy to find given the daunting 900 year remark), which might provide a connecting principle.

    Suggestions of triangulation abide in The Chase, as do references to the wisdom of ancient Greece. But what has this to do with overtly religious language? Well, while a geometry scholar and famed mathematician, 'Pythagoras' was also a renowned humanist and important philosopher of his time. Take for instance the below often-referenced but rarely directly translated Pythagoras quote verbatum:

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    or put into modern parlance:

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    What if, by employing 'Christian' verbiage in his poem, yet at the same time alluding to 'triangulation' and "Greek' wisdom, Mr. Fenn is 'drawing' a correlation for us to discover -- actually using a method of 'triangulation' to reference the lesser-known wisdom of the father OF Triangulation ... and thus providing us with two Omegas, aka. two endings: one mathematical, one moral.

    Considering the content of the above Pythagoras quote, a true friend being another "i," we are reminded of a resonant Christian notion of an "eye for an eye" (wisdom New & Old (Testament)) describing a system of retributive justice. In one interview, Mr. Fenn overtly refers to man's tendency to perpetrate violence against his fellow man as a most unfortunate aspect of human nature and one he would like to see humanity rise above.

    Unlike the "Wisdom Old" taken from the Old Testament, The Pythagorean notion of an "i for an i" proclaims that in true friendship, a certain equality and unity evolves which begins to break down the boundary of 'otherness.' Hence the "i" of self gets conjoined with the "i" of the dear friend. As many have interpreted Fenn's "two can keep a secret if ..." quote combined with his terminal double omegas to perhaps allude to 'another' (dear friend) who shares or shared knowledge of Fenn's private locus, such a reality would be fully supported by this Pythagorean notion of friendship as a deeply soulful and unifying bond.

    The above is one example of Fenn (potentially) employing 'religious' rhetoric to relay a larger 'spiritual' message - the highest and best use of "subversive art."

    Whether these connections are intended as a guide to finding the physical treasure or merely enriching aspects of the process of 'searching' to be enjoyed by the devoted seeker remains a mystery, and perhaps of little consequence in the grander scheme of things.

    If you search Fenn's poem/prose for other potential 'subversive' connections, I think you'll find references to film, comics, pop culture, spirituality, oppression, indigenous culture, the list goes on and on. All these references lead down rabbit holes, many of which prove quite interesting. A great deal of work went into crafting this landscape, why not explore it fully, come what may?

    I've heard certain scholars have read Fenn's poem and detected a deficit. Perhaps Mr. Fenn deliberately left pedantry out of his word-picture, leaving scholars dim-of-wit with only their 'selves' to reflect upon.

    So when you begin to paint mental images with the words in Fenn's poem and all you see is "worn out commonplaces," do keep in mind that while sometimes "a cigar is just a cigar," equally valid, sometimes a winking owl can indicate a whole lot more than meets the eye ... https://www.jstor.org/stable/1344290?seq=1


    #WiseBlaze ForgiveASinner #WinkAtAHomelyGirl #SubtlySubversive


    http://www.golob-gm.si/2-the-politic...ual-effect.htm

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    Last edited by Tyke (MySon); 03-24-2020, 05:36 PM.

  • #2
    Let's just stop at observer effect.
    That quanta powers the upper psychic intuitions that, once observed in a lab environment, can never be seen by scientific equipment; can never leave a trace of data that it is true.
    Questing song:
    The Beatles "I'll Be Back"
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2K9Ij6VmOD4

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    • #3


      Last edited by Quest; 03-24-2020, 07:40 PM.

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      • #4
        "I'll have what he's having." What are we smokin?
        We're sounding profound here when really it's like, hey, poetry is art too and my friends are like me. Lots of words to describe one sentence, yes? I missed the beginning of the debate. Is someone against these thoughts? Why do we have to sell the idea?

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        • #5
          I think it comes down to this.. you have to let go of all you preconceived notions and look only at the poem as a poem. With every word directing you to the next until you find the blueprint that f speaks of... He felt like an architect. When you find that you will begin to understand how to find his solution. You won't deconstruct the poem as it is not meant to be taken apart.

          of coarse this is only IMO

          A novelist is a failed short story writer.
          A short story writer is a failed poet.
          A poet is a wordsmith.

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          • #6
            Brevity is the soul of wit, so I wouldn't overthink it. If the answer was complex, esoteric, or would remain elusive absent years of studying arcane subject matter, Forrest wouldn't have said: "When somebody finds that treasure chest, everybody's going to say, 'My God! Why didn't I think of that?'"

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Zapster View Post
              Brevity is the soul of wit, so I wouldn't overthink it. If the answer was complex, esoteric, or would remain elusive absent years of studying arcane subject matter, Forrest wouldn't have said: "When somebody finds that treasure chest, everybody's going to say, 'My God! Why didn't I think of that?'"
              Zap - could it be as simple as tha-hat?
              And it's Brown.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by wwwamericana View Post

                Zap - could it be as simple as tha-hat?
                And it's Brown.
                All reasons why the solves I come up with take a back seat to those of my children. I'm thinking "Cloud Atlas." They're thinking "clouds." :-)

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by wwwamericana View Post

                  Zap - could it be as simple as tha-hat?
                  And it's Brown.
                  Still hinting . . . thank you for being subtle, anyway.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Zapster View Post
                    Brevity is the soul of wit, so I wouldn't overthink it. If the answer was complex, esoteric, or would remain elusive absent years of studying arcane subject matter, Forrest wouldn't have said: "When somebody finds that treasure chest, everybody's going to say, 'My God! Why didn't I think of that?'"
                    After much consideration, if I understand you correctly, I think what you are trying to say is that in order to say a thing in such a way so as to potentially, depending on the environment, audience, slant of the sun and other such factors wherewithal in collaboration with the general thrust of one's efforts, to potentially (as aforeto mentioned before the preceeding sidebar which I do believe was quite a necessary interjection in order to more fully flesh out the topic at hand) to potentially (as I once again resume) inspire in one's audience, be said audience consisting of one or a multitude of characters whose backgrounds, education statuses, and personal preferences (among other things) we know not, a sensation of humor and appreciation for the words thus spake, and dare I even venture to say a spirit of mirth and moment of hilarity, one must, taking great care not to over-speak the moment, say what one must, with words neither too verbose, too over-stated, nor too lengthy in their gathering so as to help paint the intended picture in the mind of the audience, which is in fact that talent most call comedic genius, or to reduce this rather profound concept into a singular word shorter in both letter and syllable, we might simply, for purposes of consolidation and as you say 'brevity' merely coin such cleverness in turning a phrase without causing it to flop like an over-fried egg stuck to a butter-thirsty skillet, as 'wit.'

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                    • #11
                      You would give Faulkner a run for his money. :-)

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Zapster View Post
                        You would give Faulkner a run for his money. :-)
                        As Faulkner suffered money problems, thrombosis after being thrown from his horse, and was known to be a man of frou words I consider this to be a backhanded compliment of Durgaonian porportions, but as I've been told never to look a gimp-horse in the mouth and that 80% of somethin is better than 100% of nothin, I guess I'll take it and ... run, slowly, towards the Finnish line, in hopes of what lies beneath (wearing my hepa mask, of course).
                        Last edited by Tyke (MySon); 03-25-2020, 03:37 PM.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Lolami

                          You mean those big lakes flying through the sky? (:
                          You're reminding me of a debate I enjoyed reading the other day b/w rationalists and 'believers'. Good ole' Stan sure gave his best until he got slapped in the face with some cold hard science ...

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                          (Stan stomps his foot, then limps to his kitchen to fetch a cold glass of soy milk)

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Tyke (MySon) View Post

                            You're reminding me of a debate I enjoyed reading the other day b/w rationalists and 'believers'. Good ole' Stan sure gave his best until he got slapped in the face with some cold hard science ...

                            Click image for larger version Name:	stan 1.PNG Views:	0 Size:	33.9 KB ID:	149242Click image for larger version Name:	stan 2.PNG Views:	0 Size:	31.8 KB ID:	149241

                            (Stan stomps his foot, then limps to his kitchen to fetch a cold glass of soy milk)
                            That's funny. Big bang conditions have been reproduced in a lab. Sure, a whole universe was recreated from a dense source smaller than a pin head.

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                            • #15
                              If the poem is a subversive art form then that would make the LS a subversive art connoisseur or one really psychic individual.

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