Reading Philosophy with Poetic Attitude (Gebser, Spinoza, Deleuze, etc.)

Rhonda, Spain. One of the places that Rilke traveled through.

Rhonda, Spain. One of the places that Rilke traveled through.

Hello friends. As I've been wrapping up the book editing this week and looking to make some new additions to my personal library, I found this statement from Spinoza: Practical Philosophy by Gilles Deleuze to be especially helpful for anyone who is doing the belabored work of reading a challenging, philosophical text.

Robert Hurley, the book’s translator, writes in his preface,

"The fact is Spinoza is difficult. But the situation is helped by the author’s word to the wise: one doesn’t have to follow every proposition, make every connection—the intuitive or affective reading may be more practical anyway. What if one accepted the invitation—come as you are—and read with a different attitude, which might be more like the way one attends to poetry? Then difficulty would not prevent the flashes of understanding that we anticipate in the poets we love, difficult though they may be.”

I think that this same attitude—a poetic attitude—applies to the writings of Jean Gebser (Ursprung und Gegenwart). It is psychoactive. “Catalytic” (as I also mentioned in my book), not unlike reading C.G. Jung’s Red Book or Philip K. Dick’s infectious pink light scifi logos in The Exegesis, or the lyrical, imaginal potency of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. Gebser’s writing is evocative of a certain style of thinking-and-relating to words themselves that leaves one open rather than closed down, if a little bewildered.

Gebser’s writing produces a sense of clearing in the middle of the words, and in that clearing one is invited to presence (and presentiation). An integral etymology. A literary diaphany.

One should not worry about stumbling over words, but let themselves take the fall into poetry and tumble down the round of figurative associations. World spinning (word spinning) gives new vantage points, and yields vital connectivity, engenders the dynamic energy needed to concretize the text in its details.

One cannot truly “grok” a book, anyway, unless read it with just such a poetic attitude; hence this strange way of intuitive reading is in fact a very “practical” methodology. The details flow from the poetic feel. The text is the world, and the world is a place… So why not see the text as a landscape and the words themselves as rivers and stones? Geography which one must walkabout for a while before they can truly familiarize themselves with the territory. You walkabout in order to conceptualize. So, get a feel for the world-words the author opens up.

Onward to intuitive readings.