Thursday, July 30, 2009 51 Comments

Poem

Hanged in the lovely month of October,
My troubles were not over. I thought Hell;
But went to Heaven, where bull-necked
Angels grabbed and threw me down.
Straight they dragged me to the edge
Of a cloud, where from a long bar
I was hanged again - and this time, drawn,
My bowels burned before my eyes. For
Hours the black drops welled and shot
Twisting to the old and distant earth:
Indescribable. But next day
I was healed; so they could melt me
To hipbones in a tub of cold lye.
In Heaven you never lose consciousness.
And there is no Hell - but this Heaven,
Unroofed against the freezing fog,
Whose God is Jean Cauvin's,
Whose dirty work is His alone; nay He
Glories in it; so it went on. The
Cross? Oh, yes, the cross; many
Times; ingeniously refined. Did I
Cry, why? Many times. To no answer
But the ungentle angels. Finally
I understood; and some time later,
Was smelted of my crimes. My soul
Was good silver, thinner than paper,
Stamp-small; such remained; such
Big angels brought before the Lord.
Who spoke formalities, and sent me
Back to the one hell, this earth,
Where it is summer always, where men
Are animals, where I whisper
Like a leaf in the perfect breeze.

51 Comments:

Blogger G. M. Palmer said...

fine poem, MM. Waiting for someone with more history (or better googling skilz) to tell us who you're talking about (if you're referring to a specific person and not, say -- gold or something equally obscure).

At any rate, a fine comingling of purgatory & heaven.

July 29, 2009 at 10:33 PM  
Anonymous tersesi said...

Poetry is gay.

July 29, 2009 at 11:32 PM  
Blogger Evan said...

Well, "Jean Cauvin" is John Calvin, and one is hanged, drawn, and quartered as punishment for high treason, and Mencius loves ultra-Calvinists, so I'm going to guess the first half is at least partially about the fate of certain Puritans at Charing Cross after the Restoration.

The second half appears to be about the Great Recoinage - interestingly, counterfeiting was also punishable as high treason. I'm not entirely sure how to link the two, however.

July 30, 2009 at 12:05 AM  
Anonymous Krakow said...

Fuck poetry.

July 30, 2009 at 12:09 AM  
Anonymous Nobody said...

Please do not let this be your only post for the whole week.

July 30, 2009 at 1:44 AM  
Blogger sykes.1 said...

Actually, I liked it, especially after Evans offered an interpretation.

July 30, 2009 at 4:10 AM  
Blogger G. M. Palmer said...

Evan -- thanks for pointing to the Charing Cross hangings. It's certainly one of them, though Hacker is apparently the only one not drawn & quartered after (since it appears in the poem he wasn't drawn the first time).

Harrison seems to be the more famous of the regicides -- but I don't think he thought he was bound for Hell. Scot and Carew might be possible choices -- both seem to be pretty millennial in their beliefs, something for which MM takes the new ultra-calvinists to task.

I agree -- the end is interesting as MM weaves in a bit about currency.

The poem doesn't depend on these secret decoder rings, but if MM is "expecting" us to see these finer points, I wish he'd be a bit less vague.

Having said that, the poem works on its own & is both pleasant and moving.

July 30, 2009 at 7:02 AM  
Anonymous josh said...

I think many of the finer points should be fairly obvious to the loyal reader.

July 30, 2009 at 10:06 AM  
Blogger G. M. Palmer said...

josh -- poetry ought not to be a secret club.

July 30, 2009 at 10:15 AM  
Blogger werouious said...

love the knuckledraggers bashing poetry.

July 30, 2009 at 10:23 AM  
Anonymous Rex said...

werouious,

Only faggots like you and G.M. Palmer (the "G.M." stands for "Gay Man") read Mencius for the poetry.

July 30, 2009 at 11:06 AM  
Blogger Jeff said...

Flame trolling is passe.

Reading this I was reminded about this article.

You can call it (the afterlife) whatever you want, but if the consciousness is enduring a painful and perpetual purging of the ways flesh to find whatever is left of the divine spark - sounds a little less like heaven to me. "In the after life, we will be headed for some serious strife. Now you make the scene all day, but tomorrow there be hell to pay...."

Anyway boo on Universalism. And I try to never miss an opportunity to borrow the phrase "ayatollah of Geneva"...

July 30, 2009 at 11:52 AM  
Blogger G. M. Palmer said...

Dear tersesi, Krakow, Nobody, and Rex,

In the "about me" section of Unqualified Reservations, in the ultimate line, you will clearly see the words "contemporary verse." Indeed, I first came to UR not through a love of all things royalist and anti-democratic, but through a keen interest in contemporary poetry.

Specifically, a friend sent me to this post which was my introduction to Mencius in specific and contemporary anti-democracy in general.

I'm not sure what need you serve by calling poetry gay or me gay (unless your boyfriend recently dumped you -- in which case, I can't help anyway) but it lends itself to a 4chan-eqsue atmosphere which is puerile at best. To wit: puerile commenters are puerile.

Werouious, it doesn't really help to go about insulting them. Also, your blog is a bit creepy -- but I hope the girl thing worked out.

July 30, 2009 at 11:53 AM  
Anonymous Rex said...

Gay Man Palmer,

The only "puerile" things here are your sexual proclivities.

You lust after "pueros", that is, young boys.

July 30, 2009 at 12:06 PM  
Blogger G. M. Palmer said...

Awesome.

Please refrain from libeling me as it is illegal behavior and, more importantly, behavior unbecoming a gentleman.

July 30, 2009 at 12:37 PM  
Blogger G. M. Palmer said...

Also,

What sort of background leads one to such open and inane attacks on another's character -- especially in regards to poetry?

July 30, 2009 at 12:38 PM  
Anonymous ableroc said...

Mencius is a tad presumptuous with his claims on the history of violence and progress:

http://www.hawaii.edu/powerkills/DBG.CHAP3.HTM

July 30, 2009 at 3:04 PM  
Blogger Alrenous said...

Aww, you were doing so well.

Ignoring the trolls, especially with actual discussion of the poetry, highlights how meaningless their 'comments' actually are.

If you wrestle with swine, you both get muddy and the pig likes it.


G.M. Palmer,

Lack of education (or more technical skills) generally leads to such comments. Lacking anything else to say (or do), they attempt to influence discussion by brute force. That or existential frustration which they're attempting to take out on any likely target.

Incompetence, basically. On the other hand, they're reading Mencius, which may be part of a remedy. So, I'm of two minds about it.


Nobody,

If Mencius is like most thinkers, he doesn't always have something new and insightful to say every week. Part of the charm of this blog is that the quality maintained is so high, and Mencius cannot maintain it by posting inane repeats, nor by neglecting to further his reading.

Nevertheless, people being what they are, it's necessary that Mencius keeps a regular schedule.

You could ask him specifically, but I'm confident that his poetry does not actually displace his discourse.


I want to add that Mencius' first post is still my favourite. It has Glocks! More Mencius posts should have Glocks, and moreover the idea structures that lead to, among other things, examples involving Glocks.

The simplest reason for this is that Mencius had the most time to think beforehand. It was essentially years of posts, plus discussions showing up typical reactions, distilled into a single post.

This ties back - to communicate properly, you have to guess at the state of mind of the person you're talking to. But MM's first post he didn't have to guess, because he'd gone and found out.

Several commenters here are clearly failing to guess MM's state of mind. Similarly, MM's assumptions about audience state of mind are clearly flawed with respect to the actual audience.

I'd guess he has no intension to change this, however, because he likes the audience that his assumptions describe, and you can either find use in it, or use your free time elsewhere.

July 30, 2009 at 5:13 PM  
Blogger suraj sharma said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

July 30, 2009 at 11:16 PM  
Anonymous Rex said...

hey sh(w)arma,

go and get me some chicken vindaloo and some nan, you hindoo coolie faggot.

thank you, come again.

July 31, 2009 at 12:10 AM  
Blogger suraj sharma said...

hey f-Rex,
you should leave the apu impression to your mom, it sounds way better when she moans "come again".

July 31, 2009 at 12:14 AM  
Anonymous Rex said...

sh(w)arma,

my mom ain't no sand nigger. she ain't got no accent.

shouldn't you be filing TPS reports, or providing some customer service?

also, you and your fellows could really use some showers. and i mean real showers, not dunking yourself in the diarrhea infested Ganges.

and another thing. go and get me some curry while you're at it.

July 31, 2009 at 12:40 AM  
Anonymous Rex said...

for those confused, our uppity hindoo friend suraj sh(w)arma deleted the initial comment he made at July 30, 2009 11:16 PM that prompted my initial comment directed at him.

July 31, 2009 at 12:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm glad we got a poem this week. Personally, I find this poem to be MUCH more entertaining than another pro-Carlyle cocksucker extravaganza.

-Victor

July 31, 2009 at 3:17 AM  
Anonymous Leonard said...

Victor, the poem is Carlylian, at least in inspiration. From MM's linked Carlyle essay:

And so you take criminal caitiffs, murderers, and the like, and hang them on gibbets "for an example to deter others." Whereupon arise friends of humanity, and object. With very great reason, as I consider, if your hypothesis be correct. What right have you to hang any poor creature "for an example"? He can turn round upon you and say, "Why make an 'example' of me, a merely ill-situated, pitiable man? Have you no more respect for misfortune? Misfortune, I have been told, is sacred. And yet you hang me, now I am fallen into your hands; choke the life out of me, for an example! Again I ask, Why make an example of me, for your own convenience alone?"--All "revenge" being out of the question, it seems to me the caitiff is unanswerable; and he and the philanthropic platforms have the logic all on their side.

The one answer to him is: "Caitiff, we hate thee; and discern for some six thousand years now, that we are called upon by the whole Universe to do it. Not with a diabolic but with a divine hatred. God himself, we have always understood, 'hates sin,' with a most authentic, celestial, and eternal hatred. A hatred, a hostility inexorable, unappeasable, which blasts the scoundrel, and all scoundrels ultimately, into black annihilation and disappearance from the sum of things. The path of it as the path of a flaming sword: he that has eyes may see it, walking inexorable, divinely beautiful and divinely terrible, through the chaotic gulf of Human History, and everywhere burning, as with unquenchable fire, the false and death-worthy from the true and life-worthy; making all Human History, and the Biography of every man, a God's Cosmos in place of a Devil's Chaos. So is it, in the end; even so, to every man who is a man, and not a mutinous beast, and has eyes to see. To thee, caitiff, these things were and are, quite incredible; to us they are too awfully certain,--the Eternal Law of this Universe, whether thou and others will believe it or disbelieve. We, not to be partakers in thy destructive adventure of defying God and all the Universe, dare not allow thee to continue longer among us. As a palpable deserter from the ranks where all men, at their eternal peril, are bound to be: palpable deserter, taken with the red band fighting thus against the whole Universe and its Laws, we--send thee back into the whole Universe, solemnly expel thee from our community; and will, in the name of God, not with joy and exultation, but with sorrow stern as thy own, hang thee on Wednesday next, and so end."

July 31, 2009 at 7:03 AM  
Blogger MarcWPhoto said...

Non curo. Si metrum non habet, non est poema.

That being said, it is a far more esthetically pleasing piece of prose than many others which aspire to the same.

And tersesi, your insults are behind the times: such accusation is no longer considered derogatory. However, I invite you to go to a recitation of the Sagas and make the same observation.

Bring friends. A lot of them.

July 31, 2009 at 7:03 AM  
Blogger G. M. Palmer said...

Marc,

It has to be metrical to be a poem?

I mean, I'm all for metrics & shit but really?

Also -- MM might be able to make the argument that he's writing a 4-beat line.

Now you could argue -- a la Lewi Turco -- that the poem is in prose and not verse, but that's a different set of wheels.

July 31, 2009 at 7:21 AM  
Anonymous Leonard said...

Evan is right about Calvin, and the poem's narrator does say he was hanged. But he was not hanged drawn and quartered on Earth: "and this time, drawn". Thus, the suggestion of the killings of the regicides is just that: a suggestion.

I do think "high treason" was what MM was striking at, but in a somewhat different way. The narrator was hanged on Earth and expects to go to Hell: he is a sinner. But to Calvin's God, all sin is treason; God hates sin the way that progressives hate racists: with the boundless energy of love. (And of course, God's hate, being superhuman, is purer than any human hate.) Any sin is the greatest crime compared to a purely good God. Thus, all sin is (and must be) punished with the punishments for treason. How much hate could a perfect God hate if a perfect God did hate sin?

Thus, the intriguing inversion of Heaven and Hell in the poem. Heaven in the poem is a place of pure torture, where you cannot escape the pain even by loss of consciousness. Whereas the Earth is identified as "the one hell", even though existence there (having achieved grace, anyway) is apparently lovely.

I do not see any monetary allusion in the poem, outside of the use of silver as the metal of the soul. If MM wanted money, he'd have used gold. So I disagree with Evan on that score.

The allusion to smelting (a means of purifying metal by removing impurities via great heat) is clearly about purification of sin, and thus achieving grace. The narrator may have had a great soul when he died, but it was not pure. In fact it was mostly impurity. Only a tiny bit of it was pure good silver; that is what was left when God was through with him. But -- and this is the key -- even being reduced to a postage stamp a few atoms thick, the narrator has become happy, or at least content.

July 31, 2009 at 7:33 AM  
Blogger G. M. Palmer said...

The idea of sin as treason is certainly a good one.

MM is clearly aping Dante's Purgatorio here -- or at least taking a page from Eliot's use of it (and he hid in the fire that refines). As I said, a fascinating picture of the afterlife.

But if it's just about the afterlife, then what's the point?

I'd like to know re: MM how he views his poetry.

July 31, 2009 at 8:14 AM  
Blogger xlbrl said...

A good poet never understands his poetry as well as a good reader of his poetry. So saw Socrates.

July 31, 2009 at 9:21 PM  
Blogger G. M. Palmer said...

xlbrl -- that's probably true. But Menc ain't dead, sos we can ask him . . .

July 31, 2009 at 9:54 PM  
Blogger Johnny Abacus said...

"But if it's just about the afterlife, then what's the point?"

Calvin and his followers tried to create Heaven on earth.

August 1, 2009 at 9:51 AM  
Blogger G. M. Palmer said...

JA --

That's a pretty fine point there.

Perhaps this Heaven is part of "the only Hell" -- then what's our hanged man doing back?

August 1, 2009 at 6:22 PM  
Anonymous Leonard said...

GMP - a secular reading of the thing would be as the progressive intellectual in self-struggle. You know, auto-brain-surgery, MM style. In this analogy we have:
God: formalist ideology (note that He speaks "formalities".
Heaven: one's time of intellectual struggle.
angels: the books of the Sith library.
hell on earth: what you're condemned to as a non-progressive intellectual, "men
are animals, where I whisper".

August 2, 2009 at 6:48 AM  
Blogger G. M. Palmer said...

Leonard --

Nice, though that's somehow even more depressing that the religious reading.

The poem (like the blog) leaves us with a lot of ambiguity.

What's the purpose of knowledge if you're just a whispering sliver of silver?

August 2, 2009 at 12:07 PM  
Anonymous Leonard said...

'cause being silver is inherently better than being dross?

I mean, I'm not exactly converted to a MM clone, so I cannot speak precisely for the neocameralist. But I felt pretty much like that as an anarchocapitalist. It is the pleasure of the insider reflecting on the outsiders: the gnostic versus the damned, bovine masses.

It's the same pleasure I imagine as one of the rewards of progressivism. They are enlightened, everyone are endarkened idjits. Men
are animals. I whisper truth, if anyone can hear (my blog gets 1 hit per day, which is usually me).

You never felt like a leaf in the perfect breeze?

August 2, 2009 at 5:28 PM  
Blogger G. M. Palmer said...

Yeah, that's got personal, solipsistic value -- sure.

But I don't think this is quite an objectivist selfishness-for-all blog yet.

August 2, 2009 at 7:19 PM  
Anonymous josh said...

Well done, all. I think Leonard nails it, and it isn't any more cryptic than most other allegorical poetry.

August 4, 2009 at 7:16 AM  
Anonymous Bruckner said...

Mencius,

Due to your recommendation, I've been giving Larry Auster a chance and putting up with his arrogant attitude and anti-evolution diatribes, but after reading him today I think I've exhausted my patience.

From his blog today:

"So the story remains a mystery, and I cannot dismiss my theory of demon possession."

http://www.amnation.com/vfr/archives/013891.html


Anti-evolution, intelligent design, Creationism, etc., fine. I can handle that.

But demon possession?! I mean come on.

August 5, 2009 at 10:15 AM  
Blogger G. M. Palmer said...

you find Creationism more credible than demon possession?

Like young earth creationism (which is only sorta supported by Teh Bibble [the English "day" being quite inadequate a translation])?

Really?

August 5, 2009 at 8:31 PM  
Anonymous Bruckner said...

The point is that one can only handle so many ridiculous beliefs and theories before losing faith and confidence in a blogger's credibility.

August 5, 2009 at 9:11 PM  
Blogger G. M. Palmer said...

So what beliefs don't you find ridiculous?

August 5, 2009 at 9:17 PM  
Anonymous Leonard said...

Auster is not a creationist as the term is commonly understood. He even accepts evolution within a species. What he denies is evidence of Darwinian speciation. Still daft IMO, but far more defensible than "the Earth is 5000 years old".

As for demon possession... well, personal taste. But I really doubt that you know what Auster thinks about that, either. (I do not, and have been reading him for months; it does not come up.) His views may be more subtle than you credit. In any case, IMO most current psychology is little better in scientific terms than demonology.

August 5, 2009 at 9:29 PM  
Anonymous Bruckner said...

Jesus, why don't we just chalk it up to Auster's eccentricity and call it even?

You don't have to rationalize and justify a grown man's belief in demon possession by pointing to the field of psychology and sputtering that it too is a bunch of baloney and just like demonology.

The lengths some people and fanboys will go to......

August 5, 2009 at 10:31 PM  
Blogger G. M. Palmer said...

The question is, Bruckner, why are you so obsessed with Auster's beliefs?

August 5, 2009 at 10:34 PM  
Anonymous Bruckner said...

G.M. Palmer,

Why are you so obsessed with my beliefs?

August 5, 2009 at 10:54 PM  
Blogger G. M. Palmer said...

I am not -- I am obsessed with your obsession.

CK1

August 5, 2009 at 11:18 PM  
Blogger Lawrence Auster said...

It's funny when people who pride themselves on their superior knowledge turn out to be quite parochial. As Victorians were scandalized by the mention of a leg, Bruckner is scandalized at the mention of the possibility of demon possession. In the case of the Diane Schuler automobile disaster, which I was writing a great deal about, her extreme and insane behavior seemed so unaccountable by any known causation that a possible explanation was demon possession, which would fit the pattern of her robotic and zombie-like yet wildly aggressive and homicidal behavior in driving to her doom and that of her children, nieces, and others.

To Bruckner, the mere fact that I mentioned this speculation puts me so far off the chart of the acceptable that he won't read me any more. In fact, there are documented cases of demon possession, most famously the story told in the made-for-TV movie Possessed, the single documented case of demon possession in the United States. Carol Iannone discussed the movie four years ago at National Review Online, though her main topic was not demon possession but the fact that the movie's protagonist, a 1960s era priest played by Timothy Dalton, is manly, unlike today's priests.

The real life, documented story told in Possessed was the basis of the fictional book and movie The Exorcist.

In any case, if Bruckner had remained open-minded in a search for the truth of the Taconic crash, as I was, he would have continued to read my posts about it, and he would have read the entry, "Diane Schuler problem solved," in which a commenter and I on the basis of new information about drunken drivers whose behavior was strikingly like Schuler's, realized that her specific behavior (acting in an extremely aggressive and dangerous way but in complete unconsciousness) which up to that point seemed inexplicable, could be explained by alcohol after all.

August 13, 2009 at 11:32 PM  
Blogger Lawrence Auster said...

Correction:

My remark on Carol Iannone's article on Possessed, which I hadn't read in years when I posted the comment, inadvertently trivialized her treatment of the movie. She describes it as a powerful story in which the priest who is assigned to help the boy must overcome his doubts about himself (brought on by a moment of cowardice on a World War II battlefied when out of fear for his own life he failed to give a dying soldier last rites), and strive with full faith in God to drive out the demons possessing the boy.

August 14, 2009 at 8:24 AM  
Blogger Lawrence Auster said...

I've posted my comment to Bruckner, along with further thoughts on whether non-material explanations are inherently irrational and anti-science, at my website.

August 14, 2009 at 8:28 AM  
Anonymous OneSTDV said...

Auster, OneSTDV (myself), and others have been going at it discussing consciousness:

Discussion here

Similar themes are being discussed, including materialism, supposed immodesty of atheism, mind/body problem, etc. Auster is, of course, his usual congenial self.

I'm sorry, but demon possession is downright insane. It's far worse than positing an immaterial consciousness (which I never said was insane, I just said it was faith-based or lacking FALSIFIABLE evidence).

I love how the religious contend materialists are dogmatic if materialists don't consider every single claim they make.

Is it also dogmatic to not believe a refrigerator-sized diamond is buried in my backyard? Or how about, is it being dogmatic to not believe a midget has a good shot at making it in the NBA? I mean, according to Auster, if one denies any heartfelt belief, then that's evidence of dogmatism.

One more: Is it dogmatic to deny that Allah is the one true God? 2 billion believe this wholeheartedly. Auster is clearly being dogmatic by just dismissing their beliefs.

August 14, 2009 at 9:58 AM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home