zaterdag 14 februari 2009

Broken vessels and bloody bridegrooms. Special Valentine's Day post.

”You see, in the beginning was the Word. And the Word was made flesh in the weave of the human universe. And only the poet can expand this universe, finding shortcuts to new realities the way the Hawking drive tunnels under the barriers of Einsteinian space/time.
To be a poet, I realized, a true poet, was to become the Avatar of humanity incarnate; to accept the mantle of the poet is to carry the cross of the Son of Man, to suffer the birth pangs of the Soul-Mother of Humanity.
To be a true poet is to become God.”
Martin Silenus in Dan Simmons' Hyperion

Thus says Martin Silenus, my favourite character of Dan Simmons' novel series. Lecherous, habitually drunk and foul-mouthed, he is the unlikely chronicler of the seven pilgrims who visit the far-off planet Hyperion, as the epic that has become his life's work curiously foretells the events in the series. The relationship between literature and reality is a recurrent theme in Dan Simmons' work: in his Ilium/Olympus novels, the characters of Homer and Shakespeare literally come to life in a distant post-human future.

In Hyperion, a novel which describes the reverberations of an ultimate fight between two Gods – one an artificial, machine-created Ultimate Intelligence, the other a Teilhardian Omega Point emerging from biological life – backwards in time to the present (a few centuries from now) it is ultimately Love that is found to be the force underlying all of reality, and self-sacrificial Love that is proclaimed by the prophet Aenea in both word and deed in the last two of the series.

More of that in a little bit. The first of the four books describes the travels of seven pilgrims, Silenus among them, to a planet called Hyperion, to petition a mysterious creature known as the Shrike and worshipped by its cultists as the Pain Lord. Each of the seven pilgrims has been affected in some way by the Shrike. And each of them is moved by love in one way or another. The warrior, Kassad, has recoiled in horror from the eroticized bloodlust and visions of cosmic destruction and war to which he was seduced by his dreamlike lover, a woman called Moneta or Mnemosyne, consort of the Shrike (whose nature is revealed later on), and is determined to kill them. The scholar, Weintraub, goes through Abraham's agonies as he is called to sacrifice his daughter to the Shrike (who has caused her to age backwards in time). Silenus himself has come to understand that the Shrike, the Pain Lord, is his Muse, and will sacrifice himself to him (at the cost of his epic remaining forever unfinished) in order for his patron, King William XXIII of Windsor-in-exile otherwise known as 'Sad King Billy' to be released from the Shrike's grasp. All of the pilgrims' fates are somehow tied to an 'other', and all of them involve sacrifice: ultimately of themselves in favour of that 'other'.

There are a few reasons why my thoughts are turned to that novel again. The first is Silenus' remarks on the nature of poetry. I believe they are right on the mark, quite literally. All poetry is divinely inspired. All real poetry at any rate. The Muse is not a metaphor for something wholly within ourselves, but a metaphor for the logos of the universe with which the poet and artist communicate directly. Robert Graves speaks of the White Goddess. I do not think the names or masks we provide her with matter.

But Silenus mentions something else – namely, that to meet the Muse is to ' to suffer the birth pangs of the Soul-Mother of Humanity'. Later on, when he is taken by the Shrike and impaled, with thousands of others, on the thorns of a gigantic, obscene steel tree, he discovers something about the nature of pain:

”Then, in the exhausted times between shouting or pure spasms of pain, Silenus allows himself thought. At first it is merely an effort to sequence, to recite the time tables in his mind, anything to separate the agony of ten seconds ago from the agony yet to come. Silenus discovers that in the effort of concentrating, the agony is lessened slightly – still unbearable, still driving all true thought like wisps before a wind, but lessened some indefinable amount.
So Silenus concentrates. He screams and rails and writhes, but he concentrates. Since there is nothing else to concentrate on, he concentrates on the pain.
Pain, he discovers, has a structure. It has a floor plan. It has designs more intricate than a chambered nautilus, features more baroque than the most buttressed Gothic cathedral. Even as he screams, Martin Silenus studies the structure of his pain. He realizes that it is a poem.”

But more on that in a little bit. I said above that I believe all poetry (if it is to be poetry) and probably by extension all art is divinely inspired. There is an immanence of God in our universe, which manifests itself as beauty: it is the rhythms, the cadence of it, the harmony of the spheres if you will, that the poet listens to. The difference between a poetic metaphor and a bad attempt at metaphor; or between a metre and structure that sets fire to the language and one that falls flat on its face, is that the former is a thought of God.

This means that it is rather easy to concede for me that the Bible is divinely inspired. Just not very uniquely so. I am increasingly uncomfortable with holding Scripture to be God's word in any other sense. God's word, to me, is the self-revelation of God in the universe in general, and throughout human history, culminating in his self-revelation in Christ, the incarnate Word. It is actions, events, that literally happen and are yet symbolical in nature: pointing beyond themselves to God. Scripture, to me, is a witness to that Word, but not more.

I should hasten to add that I also dislike regarding some parts of Scripture as ”more” divinely inspired than others. To accept the parts where God is merciful and loving and disregard the parts where God commands the slaughter of this or that tribe, for example. In doing so, we turn Scripture into a mirror of our own sensibilities. To an extent, this is unavoidable: we always read Scripture with some preconceived ideas about God, with some theological framework; yet I do believe that we should allow Scripture to modify that framework as well. Besides, I always especially liked the more brutal and gory parts.

So, on the one hand, I think inerrant or literalist readings of Scripture risk ultimately substituting Scripture for the subject of Scripture; not to speak of the fact that I think wondering on whether a literal reading of, say, Noah's flood is compatible with our scientific picture of our world is useless. I'm not even saying no or yes to such readings: I think they're utterly beside the point. On the other hand, I'm extremely uncomfortable with regarding Scripture as an imperfect testimony to a historical Jesus, or a historical Jewish people, and that the real object of our quest must be that historical event. I find higher criticism, and the history of the Bible, relentlessly fascinating: but I do not read the Bible as a philologist. I'm almost (yet not quite) at the point of agreeing with Barth and Bultmann that the historical Jesus is irrelevant; that the 'Jesus-mythers' could be right and it would not matter; for it is precisely the myth that counts.

So the Bible should stand by itself, should be allowed to create a reality in which we may immerse ourselves; without either regarding it as a recipe-book for salvation or being distracted to the fascinating but messy details of its creation. Much like art, or poetry, in fact.

I have been reading Harold Blooms ”Jesus and Yahweh” and am interested by Harold Bloom's treatment of the two main protagonists of the Bible (or, of Mark and the J parts of the Old Testament on which Bloom focuses) as literary personae. I disagree in many ways with Bloom, mind you – Bloom is a Gnostic, and while I'm not exactly free of Gnostic tendencies myself, it does seem to me that Bloom has a tin ear for the meaning of the crucifixion and the resurrection (which many historical Gnostics have denied). But Blooms approach, specifically taking into account the wholes of the texts rather than just parts, allows God and Jesus to emerge as coherent personalities. And as I do hold the Bible to be in some fashion revelatory of God, I think this approach is interesting from a religious perspective as well.

Bloom regards Yahweh as a temperamental, rash God, quick to anger and in many ways ”more human than human”, and endowed with an unpleasant sense of humor. Purely on the basis of the text, I do not think Bloom's view is ill-founded. Consider, for example, Exodus 4:24. Yahweh has just patiently gotten a very reluctant Moses to travel to Egypt and demand the freedom of his people. While Moses is on his way, however, something very odd happens:

”At a lodging place on the way, the LORD met {Moses} and was about to kill him. 25 But Zipporah took a flint knife, cut off her son's foreskin and touched {Moses'} feet with it. "Surely you are a bridegroom of blood to me," she said. 26 So the LORD let him alone. (At that time she said "bridegroom of blood," referring to circumcision.)”

Note here that first, there appears to be significant uncertaintly as to who is getting (nearly) killed: Moses or his little son, Gershom. The NIV allows for both possibilities; Bloom actually believes that Moses is to be killed. This after Yahweh spent a lot of time and effort to finally get Moses moving. Second, Yahweh is up close and personal here: he meets Moses (personally) and attempts to (personally) kill him. Third, Yahweh allows for enough opportunity for Moses' wife Zipporah to intervene, circumcise their son and thereby call of the killing.

Those are just some odd things about an exceedingly odd passage. It does not do, for me at least, to argue that the passage may be a remnant from another and clearer story: while this may be the case, it should not matter for reading the Bible, as it is. It also does not do at all to argue that by neglecting Gershom's (or his own?) circumcision, Moses had sinned and therefore he (or Gershom?) had to die. It does not make sense in the larger context: in all the negotiations with Moses about him going to Egypt, surely Yahweh could have mentioned the whole circumcision issue in passing?

My own reading, which is admittedly very ad hoc, is that Yahweh is very literally going to kill Gershom to make a point to Moses; probably, to teach him what exactly it means to lose your firstborn son, as Moses is (as is made clear in the previous verse) ordered to tell the Pharaoh. However, Yahweh is somehow mollified by Zipporah's intervention, and decides to let Gershom live.

In any way, the picture is not very pretty – at least if we like to think of God in terms of omniscient, omnibenevolent, etc. And the God of the Old Testament does seem to have a habit to make a point by killing children: where the son of faithful Abraham was spared; the daughter of Jephtah (who wanted to bind God with a deal and thought his part was going to be easy) was most decidedly not. And then there is the child of David and Bathsheba, killed for the sins of his father. One of the most problematic actions of God in the Old Testament is, of course, God's actions towards Job: I still do not quite comprehend God's answer from the whirlwind. On the face of it, it seems God is simply trying to intimidate Job – but this is too simplistic, and it does not explain Job's reaction, who acts as if he has received a genuine insight. An insight which escapes me. (Arguing that Job's suffering isn't really God's doing, but the Devil's, to whom God has delivered Job, is of course unsatisfactory: and in any way the Book of Job puts less distance between God and Satan than comfortable). Carl G. Jung, in his ”Answer to Job”, seems to argue that God is essentially amoral and lacking in self-consciousness which means that the confrontation with his pious servant fills him with suspicion and doubt; the answer from the whirlwind being bluster to conceal this uncertainty. For now, this conclusion is much too radical for me.

But confronted with the God who seems in various ways complicit in the evils that befall mankind, there are a few possible answers (leaving aside the notion that ”there is evil because we are fallen” which I agree with, in a way, but which is compatible with all of the below and does not explain the morally difficult behaviour of the God of the Old Testament):

1. The God of (most) of the Old Testament is not the real God, but the God proclaimed by Christ is. This is famously the position of Marcion and also to some extent the Gnostics.
2. What we regard as evil and suffering is not really evil; it serves some greater good. This position is found in a lot of Christian apologetics (especially Swinburne; more subtlely, in Plantinga's free-will defence).
3. God is indeed responsible for a lot of suffering, pain and evil, yet he is still God. The right attitude towards God would be a paradoxical one of rebellion, but one not denying his Godhood. If I understand, this notion has been worked out by Elie Wiesel.

Of this, it seems 1) is too simplistic and dichotomistic for me. Yahweh is a highly problematical figure compared to the hellenistic omnibenevolent Perfect Being of Christian theology but he is not a bumbling demiurge either. Aside from which, the dichotomy Marcion drew between the Old and the New Testament seems to me to go against everything Jesus stood for in the Gospel. 2) is at worst twaddle (as in Swinburne's apologetics) and at best it fits very ill with the notion of fallenness. Often, it bears uncanny similarity to the comforters of Job. There are some things we, in my opinion, cannot have. We cannot have a theology in which we on the one hand have total depravity and on the other hand free will which God allows us for the greater good; we cannot have a theology in which we have total depravity and a consequent determinism or bondage to that depravity but also a God who is in any (recognizable) form good and concerned with his creation; we cannot have theology with on the one hand a notion of fallenness and depravity and on the other hand a notion of immanence of God who remains yet untouched by that fallenness (which means there is a tension between the central Christian notion of the fall and process theology). 3) is, I believe, a faithful and courageous stance – but it is a stance, first and foremost, and one which requires a very intense confrontation with evil, of a kind which in my very sheltered life have not had and hope I never will. Elie Wiesel is a survivor of Auschwitz and Buchenwald.

I cannot read the Bible ultimately without theological glasses on. I can neither accept nor deny Bloom's disturbing Yahweh. What ultimately are my most basic notions of God are:

1. God is transcendent and immanent at the same time. He created the universe, but his creation is part of him.
2. God is concrete. He is the ultimate particular: a particular that cannot be caught by any universals. This I think is implicit in Anselm's argument which argues that actuality, concreteness is an inherent quality of God. When talking about supposed attributes of God, such as omnipotence, omniscience, and so forth, and then arguing about the possible existence or non-existence of that God, we are arguing about the God of the philosophers, not the living and present God; God cannot be characterized by a universal which may or may not be actualized. He is irreducibly particular. I believe the concreteness of God is well presented in the Old Testament, particularly in God's self-revelation to Moses as I am that I am (Exodus 3:14).
3. God is love. Love is a paradoxical self-giving to the Other, in which we become more ourselves.
We are, and can only be, by surrendering and giving ourselves away; we find our lives by losing them. Only in love do we become actual, and real; without it, we are just shadows. Love, I believe, is a (perhaps ”the”) genuinely creative force, it is an eternal ”and yet”, a way in which we are and are not lost in one another, a promise that the relentless laws of this universe, entropy and death are not the last word. I think God's nature as love is primarily manifested in his self-giving creative work – which I think is ongoing, rather than something already finished, and ongoing precisely in the emergence of actuality, concreteness, here-and-nowness. And that love has been revealed by Christ's death and resurrection as a literal symbol of that creative work; which is again symbolized by the eucharist.

In the last two parts of Dan Simmon's Hyperion series, the prophet Aenea (fathered by a cyborg with the personality and memories of John Keats, and raised by the poet Martin Silenus) travels through a far-future degenerate (though, in the end, redeemed) Catholic interplanetary theocracy. The Church promises its adherents eternal life through fusion with a regenerating parasite in a faustian bargain with a malevolent artificial intelligence (still bent on creating a machine God, an Ultimate Intelligence, whose battle at the end of history with the emergent Teilhardian God still reverberates in the today of the novel). The regenerating parasite, however, feeds on the void-which-binds, a dimension of the universe at the Planck scale – the scale of reality where time and space began to lose their meaning and become ”granular” – and which, Aenea reveals, is the repository of memory and empathy in our universe and, ultimately, the place where Love is present as a reality in the physical world. If Love is by its nature self-giving, self-sacrificial, the autistic immortality conferred by the parasite at the cost of destroying the feelings and memories of the deceased is very much the opposite. Aenea must convince her followers to renounce their parasitic immortality and surrender to their ultimate fate which is death – and after death, there is no survival except for what survives in the hearts and memories of others. Ultimately, she herself must surrender to her persecutors, and at the moment of her death, she releases the void-which-binds and creates a collective empathetic conscious, one more step towards the Godhead that, in the Teilhardian cosmology of the book, lies at the end of the universe. Very much like the religious figure which Aenea is reminiscent of (and who is mentioned obliquely in the book as a hypostasis of the emergent God-consciousness, or rather, empathy, fleeing backwards in time) Aenea ”realizes herself” by becoming what she represents, which for her, too, means sacrificing herself and yet living on.

I am the Way and the Truth and the Life (John 14:6) – but what does it mean to be the truth? Surely nothing else than to be true to the divine reality which, as imago Dei, Christ represents, to be Love in his actions, and finally death and resurrection, and in that way be particular and universal, reality and myth and poem, all at once? Are Son-of-God and Son-of-Man perhaps the same thing – Jesus becoming God incarnate by becoming Man-as-he-should-be, Man as God's image, the new Adam? Pilate, ironic for a sceptic towards truth, inadvertantly spoke the truth when saying ecce homo: behold the Man, more human than any other human, more real than any other reality, behold the human compared to which we are mere shades of humans.

Anyway, how does all this relate to the problem I mentioned above, that of the dark side to God as revealed in the Old Testament? I guess you get theological and philosophical systems by taking a grain of truth and running with it, building upon it. The immanence of God and the centrality of creativity is the (experiential) truth behind Process Theology. But the difficulties of reconciling Process Theology with the traditional Christian picture of Fall and Redemption I have noted above. The grain of truth behind Gnosticism is, I believe, the notion that we cannot wholly isolate the Divine reality from the Fall. Gnosticism runs with this and tends to become, in my opinion, way too dualistic and dichotomistic by positing a wholly transcendent God (yet immanent as a spark or an 'inner light' in us, and accessible to us through gnosis) and a creator-Demiurge, who is, if not wholly evil, at least very much less than perfect. I should read more on Gnosticism, for some ideas and groups are absolutely fascinating; such as the Carpocratians, who, if the writings of their enemies are to be believed, held that we must transcend and overcome sin by doing sin (and there may be a grain of truth here, too).

The problem is this: if we hold God to be transcendent being underlying all reality, we cannot at the same time accord Evil its own, independent reality. Unless we want to become Dualists, and oppose an Angra-Mainyu/Satan to Ahura-Mazda/God. The main reason why I wouldn't is basically that my God-is-concrete principle intuitively sits ill with hypostasizing a principle of Evil and a principle of Good as opposing Gods. Also, I see very little Biblical support for supposing Satan as some kind of independent agent of Evil. Put it in another way: if we hold to the metaphor presented in Genesis, in which the first humans were seduced by the snake (nevermind where the snake comes from in a creation that was supposedly ”very good”, don't tell me the snake was really the Devil as it doesn't say anything of the kind) and thereby disobeyed and rebelled against God, auguring in their alienation from God and from the rest of creation (”By the sweat of your brow...”) - then the very possibility of this rebellion, of alienation and sin, would have pre-existed in God's creation. As a universal (as any universal, as I believe God as the ”supreme particular” to transcend the world of universals) it too would have been created by God, or existed as thought, as possibility, in God's mind.

(Some Gnostics apparently believed that the snake was right. In that the snake was an emissary from the original Perfect-Being God trying to release mankind from the flawed creation of the demiurge. At least here the snake has a point being there. Seriously, though, it should be noted that the eating from the tree inaugurated both an elevation and a Fall: by gaining a reflective self-consciousness (note that the first thing Adam and Eve noticed was that they were naked) came alienation – from each other, from the rest of creation – as well. It is what 'elevates' humankind above the rest of creation that also contains the 'fall' of mankind. As a description of the tragic human condition, the Genesis narrative has few equals).

In Kabbalistic thought, the Fall and the emergence of Evil is a consequence of the way reality came into being. This is symbolized by the ”breaking of the vessels”; after withdrawing and creating a sphere within himself where creation could take place, God concentrated the light emanating from him in ten vessels, corresponding to the ten aspects of God symbolized by the Sephiroth (Malkuth, the Kingdom, Hokhmah, wisdom, and so forth) in the 'Tree of Life'. But the vessels could not hold the light and shattered, dispersing the divine light. It is probably too literalistic to ask whether God could not have made stronger vessels; the point of the symbol meaning that evil was somehow inherent to the process of creation, or to God's self-realization in his creation.

What I'm groping at is not the Gnostic dualism between perfect, transcendent Being and less-than-perfect Demiurge with the concomitant dualism between the material world as thoroughly evil and the spiritual one accessible through gnosis as thoroughly good and in fact constituting our original home; but something milder, in which ”Perfect Being” and ”Demiurge” are conceptualized as aspects of the same God, analogous perhaps to Whitehead's primordial (transcendent) and consequent (immanent) aspects in process theology. I do believe, however, that this would entail ditching not only the ”Omni-”s of Omnipotence and Omniscience but that of Omnibenevolence as well. I do not think this is much of a loss.

This does not mean that I believe God to be Evil, but rather that ”Good” and ”Evil” are universals applicable to part of God's creation but not God himself who is transcendent; God is love, but love cannot be characterized in simple terms as ”Good” and ”Evil”; it can (and should) inform ethical choice but cannot be abstracted to a system of ethics (neither can it replace ethics); it is irreducibly situational and concrete. I'm a moral relativist in the sense that I hold it the ethics that govern human societies to be specific to their time and place (and binding to the members of those societies, including, of course, myself) – I dispute the existence of a statable moral absolute. The moment it is stated, it becomes abstract, and thereby relative in its force. So I would forcefully reject any kind of ”Argument from Morality” as irrelevant as most of the apologetic arguments, not in the least because I would dispute the existence of the absolute moral rules and intuitions that are supposed to reflect Divine reason. A nice philosophical concept. Not God. The Divine commandments in the Old Testament do, obviously, not presuppose moral absolutism in that they are parts of covenants specific to their time and place. The one that is, of course, not is the one that informs all: love God and love your neighbour as yourself. And this ”law”, I would argue, is a little higher than any moral law or principle precisely because it is ”lower” in being irreducibly concrete.

Of course, this does not mean I can simply define Evil away and be done with it; if I hold love to be a principle transcending (but not replacing) moral good and bad, then something very much the opposite of love remains: the deterministic, entropic self-unravelling of matter in its natural state but also of people and their interrelationships; the denial of possibility and creative advance by unfreedom, suffering and death. Death. Death (and the many little deaths that precede biological death) ultimately as the foreclosure of possibilities, of the ”and yet...” that is love.

Somehow, I believe Evil in this sense to be a feature of the immanent aspect of God, rather than of a creation wholly seperated from God. The brokenness of our existence, and the brokenness of our creation, thus reflects a brokenness in God as well. The panentheistic notion of God to which I hold does seem to imply it.

The flip side of the coin is that, if God is indeed love, than in his creative activity, he is constantly overcoming and transcending Evil; by ”breathing life” into the universals, the qualia and the mathematics of the Platonic world and sustaining the actual, living world he at the same time overcomes the death-like grip that laws, regularities, etc. hold over the world. ”Transcending” is, of course, not the same as ”abolishing” Evil as much as overcoming Evil much as a seed overcomes the husk it is trapped in; ”Evil is the Throne of good”, the Ba'al Shem Tov reportedly said.

(Is this the truth that the Gnostic Carpocratians discovered?)

Dan Simmons' gentle prophet, Aenea, brought the bittersweet truth that Love does indeed transcend and overcome death, but does not abolish death as a reality. There is, in the universe of Hyperion and its sequels, no personally experienced afterlife. I wonder now if the logic of what I have written above must not lead to a similar conclusion. That to ”lose our lives” as Christ instructed does not mean getting it back later, bigger and better; but quite literally to lose it in order to live on in the hearts and minds of others, and ultimately and eternally, in that of God. But no personally experienced heaven or hell await us. When starting to explore religion, for a long time I specifically denied any afterlife as I did not want my reason to be clouded by wishful thinking: I am terribly afraid of death, of the great blackness, the non-being. Then at some point the Christian notion of the resurrection led me to accept some notion (however vague) of a personally experienced afterlife. Still, I find the idea sketched by Dan Simmons and present in Whitehead's philosophy as 'objective immortality' (being remembered, perfectly and eternally, by God; yet no further personal experience) irrestistably elegant if also harsh and frightening. There is a fragile beauty to temporality, and to the notion of the personally experienced human life as temporal, and sealed, forever, by death.

I wonder now if the resurrection of Christ is not, indeed, symbolical in nature; that the life of Christ is precisely the one celebrated in the Eucharist in the community of Christians, and that to follow Christ means, indeed, to ultimately resign to surrender ourselves to future generations in a similar way.

In Whitehead's philosophy, comparatively little is explicitly said of good and evil, but quite a lot of love and beauty. Beauty, to Whitehead, is the telos of the universe and aesthetic experience is defined as ”feeling arising out of the realization of contrast under identity” (Process and reality, p. 396). It seems to me that what Whitehead describes here is very much the Hegelian dialectic in which thesis and antithesis are overcome by a synthesis without being destroyed, but living on on a higher plane as it were, or more specifically, of the way we become 'more real', we become finally 'human' in love, which paradoxically entails giving ourselves away.

Yet Whitehead states this as an aesthetic principle. And of course it is. Poetic metaphor is precisely the kind of ”patterned contrast” Whitehead describes. And by by embodying its truth in a lie (as Michael Cabot Haley put it in his Semeiosis of poetic metaphor) the metaphor only becomes more true. In becoming love through his actions, his death on the cross, and his resurrection, Christ collapses the divide between literal, propositional and poetic truth and embodies a metaphor. One that signifies, truer than true, the nature of God.

The Bible is a love-story. One that deals with the troubled and difficult love between God and his creation, specifically, his people. I believe that the New Testament is part of the story, though I am aware of the usurpation of the Hebrew Scripture in Christianity which Harold Bloom so sharply criticizes. I am not sure it matters, as I believe the central truths of the New to be present in the Old as well: ”On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. "Teacher," he asked, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?" "What is written in the Law?" he replied. "How do you read it?" He answered: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'; and, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'" "You have answered correctly," Jesus replied. "Do this and you will live."” (Luke 10:25-27). And the story has not ended yet; the creation is still ongoing, and the seventh day has yet to come.

Martin Silenus was onto something, I believe. That to be a poet is to listen to the rhythm of the immanent God, the logos of the universe, to the creation of the world as-it-happens. A creation which is love. A creation which overcomes, transcends and defies death through death, not through simply abolishing suffering, darkness and pain – but by a dialectic ”sublation” which gives death and pain its unfortunate due and yet overcomes it by its eternal ”and yet...”. As Martin Silenus experienced with hideous concreteness (and as did his foster-child Aenea), being a poet means to ”suffer the birth pangs of the Soul-Mother of Humanity”. The Greek poiesis means creation. God is the poet of the world. And suffers the birth pangs.