Writing as Love and Perception

Not “Revelation” — tis — that waits

But our unfurnished eyes

— Emily Dickinson*

What a gorgeous phrase. We don’t need to wait for Godot — an external God — who will redeem us with a great new vision of truth and beauty. We merely need to unfurnish our eyes. Our eyes are furnished with old trauma, competition, greed and jealousy. We can’t see. The blind man is literally leading the blind man.

Blake taught us that love was blind, but in truth it is not. If anything, love is a magnifying glass. We notice more about the person we love than anyone else, for good and for bad. Of course, criticism can certainly be the shadow side of perception. Every great quality of the spirit has its own unique shadow. We all know that the second we decide to love someone, we start noticing virtually every detail of their dress, habits, idiosyncrasies, all the wonderful and not so wonderful.

But love is much more than just a magnifying system for ‘petty particulars’. Dickinson invites us to a revelation that waits, to unfurnished eyes. The artist’s eye, the lover’s eye, is unfurnished. It is not blinded with the opaque trappings of pre-conceptions and mis-conceptions.

It is for this reason that we often equate the lover and the poet. Indeed it is love that moves all of us to be poets. Who has not at some time picked up a pen to write poetry for their beloved. And if you haven’t yet you should now. Poetry and love are intimately related because poetry like love is an art of perception.

Poet Allen Ginsberg is in the traditions of the great lovers when he reminds us of the need for “clear seeing and direct perception”.

Ginsberg: “Don’t treat object indirectly or symbolically, rather look directly at it and choose the aspect more immediately striking… and then write.”

Ezra Pound, talks about the “direct treatment of the thing.”

Love is in the details. Baudelaire understood this well when he moved poetry from the ethereal and the abstract to the concrete and the real. All of the sudden, the poetic consciousness of 19th century started to include the city, real estate, carriages, and machinery.

It was the great lover Walt Whitman who said, “Bring the muse into the kitchen.”

Scholar of Mysticism William James talks about “the solidity of specificity.”

Jack Kerouac, always reminds us that “details are the life of prose.”…

To be a lover, writes Zen Master Chogyam Trungpa is to know that ‘things are symbols of themselves.’

What Trungpa means is that if you directly perceive a thing it is completely there, completely revelatory of the eternal universe that’s in it.

In the lover’s vision, perception is first narrowed, concretized and then expanded into the realization…that in the ordinary resides all of the extraordinary.

The lover’s eye is open, ready to receive the divine in all it sees.

*#685 Dickinson, Collected works



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Dr. Marc Gafni

Dr. Marc Gafni

Author, Visionary Philosopher, Evolutionary Mystic, Social Innovator, and the President of the Center for Integral Wisdom. http://www.marcgafni.com