Thursday, October 18, 2007

Like Edgar Allan Poe, Sri Aurobindo wants the creation of Supernal Beauty

The poet does not waste time in “crude earthiness and muddy thrills” or incurable littleness” of “trivial amusements” or “ petty wraths and lusts and hates” ; he does not probe the world for mere sense appeal, nor does he try to turn “lust into a decorative art”. Rather, he seeks to present the world “that exists in the idea, the imagination and vision,” and attempts at “going beyond” the known. He promotes the cause of “the soul’s search for lost Reality”.
In Sri Aurobindo’s literary order poetry is a means of spiritual expression that “helps to open the consciousness.” The spiritual realizations of a poet get here a more real, dynamic and intimate nature than the physical things present. The imaginative activity, said to be the personal experience of the poet, is carried far beyond the personal self and its private perspectives, and what is expressed is the intuitively experienced truth, the truth of the universal human soul. It is the mimesis of human activity not as it is but as it can be in its ideal best. Transformation of the self to the soul, and of the soul to the greater soul, is the pervasive tone and thrust of poetry. The process involves an understanding of the evolution of the spirit in harmony with all things and the expression of the crises and conflicts on the way.
Imagination in its highest form is spiritual and is made to delineate the patterns and processes of inner evolution, reflecting “the fundamental passion of humanity for something beyond itself, something that is a dim foreshadowing of the divine urge which is prompting all creation to unfold itself and to rise out of its limitations towards its Godlike possibilities.” The poet, to Sri Aurobindo, is a seer and a revealer of truth who addresses himself to the inner senses; he struggles for a heightened, meaningful psychic identity with his unrestricted imaginative range, and opens the inner sight in us, feeling himself its intensity first. He tries to understand the content of his consciousness by turning within and the creative process admits of interpretation of the quotidian perceptual experiences, the ideas and impressions, through imagination. Every poet has a powerful interpretative and intuitive vision of Nature and life and man, says Sri Aurobindo. He transmutes the material observed into vision or poetic insight and his poetic expression, words and rhythm, gets the spontaneous form of his soul, innate, inspired and revealed, with the high emotion and radiant intuition and the “force of vitality.” He does not withdraw from life but lives life by the light and power of the spirit. He shows preference not for the fleeting or momentary, but for the everlasting, eternal, and tries to realise the immortal spirit, the infinite conciousness in him. He searches the world through and within him; he seeks to symphonize the natural and the divine, the outer and the inner, the limited and the absolute, the mental desires and the fullness of peace and eternity.
Vision is the raison d’etre of poetry as conceived by Sri Aurobindo, the nuclius of poet’s creation; other elements like moods and attitudes, tone, thought, theme or argument, imagery, rhythm and language group round the vision to accommodate and amplify it. A poet is a seer because he can envision and interpret experiences that may have external association but internal effect, vision and reason merging into one. The ideas come from within and from above and the cause of expression is within, as Coleridge in his Biographia Literaria also suggests. The poet can write only when there is a “genuine expression or coming of power to write,” when his spiritual imagination or the power of insight (which Emerson calls “a very high sort of seeing”) is active, when there is the Keatsian “spark of divinity”, the intelligence that comes from God . The intuitive seeing or the vision is the shaping spirit of imagination. What is Shelley’s “expression of the imagination” in poetry is Sri Aurobindo’s expression of the spiritual, which is the expression of the Overmind, an intermediary between the mind and the supermind.
Poetry to Sri Aurobindo is a part of Sadhana, “a means of contact with the Divine through inspiration.” The idea is closer to that of Aristotle, who says in his Rhetoric that poetry is an inspired thing. It is not mundane as it expresses the ideal of the inner being. The self-effective language confers on it a spiritual character when the sound and the sense conjoin and “there meets the unity of a divine rhythmic movement with a depth of sense and a power of infinite suggestion welling up directly from the fountain-heads of the spirit within us,” when the poet reveals the truth of the spirit itself, capturing the effects in poetry of what the Vedic poets considered as mantra (incantation), expressing their own realization as well as the realization for others, enkindling the spiritual within and bringing out the effective vision” in words “illumined and illuminating”; it is writing with God’s voice, sound and silence wending his poetic progression to create a vision of the spirit.
Explaining the mantric quality in poetry, Sri Aurobindo writes:
“Its characteristics are a language that says infinitely more than mere sense of the words indicate, a rhythm that means even more than the language and is born out of Infinite and disappears into the Infinite and the power to convey not merely some mental, vital or physical contents or indications or values of the thing it speaks of, but its value and figure in some fundamental and original consciousness which is behind them all. "
The mantric effect in poetry is the intensest spiritual effect; it is the expression in a state of perfect identity with the object. Referring to the same inner structural harmony, V.K.Gokak points out that in the rhythmic revelation of Reality that mantra is lies the “closest possible union of music and meaning, of thought and image, of sense and suggestion, of imagination and intuition.” ...

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