I’d like to cordone off the sacred from politics, but politics is everywhere, and religion, which mediates the sacred with varying degrees of success, is everywhere too. On Rosh Hashanah Eve, I’m feeling the weight of too many politics. While we can leave behind political chaos for a day or two for mediation and soul searching (although the personal work should be continual), the world’s struggles can’t help but wear on sensitive souls.
The sacred does transcend the temporal, and I find lines of survival over and over in art. Reading a conversation between two poetry critics yesterday, I stumbled upon wonderful reminders of that. Robert von Hallberg, in talking to Marjorie Perloff in her book, “Poetics in a New Key,” touched on startling ideas of poetry. He draws a connection between poetry and religion, not for its soaring sense of awe, but for the “feel of proximate rhythms leads one to sense of relatedness beyond what can be fully articulated…” Later, he defends experimental poets whose work he admires in spite of their moments of “apparent incoherence.” He writes, “…incoherence and extravagance are signs that a poem is working at the edges of convention, straining for beauty and meaning that come without coherence.”
Coherence might be too much to ask for. Meaning is sometimes beyond us, which doesn’t mean it’s not there. I’ll remember that when I walk into synagogue. Shanah Tovah.