Editor's Introduction - w&c #42
by Richard Whittaker, Jul 20, 2023
Momentary eternal. When I saw this title from one of sculptor Derek Weisberg’s series, I knew it would be the theme for issue #42. Then the extra measure of synchronicity that followed in the material coming our way resonating with this phrase, made me feel that something rare was taking place. Each piece in this issue touches on, or embodies, the territory I’ve sought to find and share with others since the beginning of the magazine. Unexpected experiences set me on the path that led to works & conversations. But how to follow the original intuitions that had moved me?
Gertrude Stein put the problem so well in Four in America: “Now listen! Can’t you see that when the language was new—as it was with Chaucer and Homer—the poet could use the name of a thing and the thing was really there? He could say ‘O Moon,’ ‘O Sea,’ ‘O Love,’ and the moon and the sea and love were really there. And can’t you see that after hundreds of years had gone by and thousands of poems had been written, he could call on those words and find that they were just worn out literary words? The excitingness of pure being had withdrawn from them. Now the poet has to work in the excitingness of pure being.”
Wasn’t this latest issue, once again—and even more so—like walking in a place one had never been in before? Not novel. But new somehow. A source of refreshment.
Poetically man dwells, wrote Martin Heidegger. The phrase speaks to us, but enigmatically. What is it to dwell? Is it a question one’s even heard before, let alone asked oneself? To the ordinary mind, it’s self-evident. I assume that I am. But awakening for even a second to actual presence reveals that I live mostly unaware of the fact of myself and am rarely in touch with what's around me. Rather I'm absorbed in my concerns and occupied with the past or the future.
The reality of being is not territory for which we have adequate language. Sometimes poetry brings us close to that radiance. Wittgenstein famously advised, “That which cannot be said must be passed over in silence.” But he also said, “That which cannot be said, can sometimes be shown.” Hopeful. And one would think the step from there to art is close by. Yet, wouldn’t you agree that it’s rare to encounter art that brings us close to “the excitingness of pure being”?
Thinking about how to introduce this issue, these thoughts came up. And I was still searching for how to describe our features when it occurred to me that this issue is like an intersection in a high place—perhaps a mountain pass—where songs, questions and stories are shared, while all around one sees reflections of light. That seemed close, a place of refreshment and effortless friendship—even momentarily eternal—just based on its elevation.
Welcome to issue #42 —Richard Whittaker