Summer Breeze interviews David Mitchell

Summer   -  What draws you to express yourself through poetry and what drew you to poetry
in the first place?

Dave  -  I don't have much to do with the process of creating poetry or much need to express myself,
in the sense of conveying purpose-driven meaning. As a recluse I could care less what anyone makes
of the work in relation to me. The driving force is a fascination with the kind of interpenetrating
metaphor that the abstract expressionists utilized in painting, that Patchen, Lewis Carroll, and Walt
Kelly  utilized in the verbal arts, that Einstein used in mathematical physics, etc. What the metaphor illuminates is of interest, sometimes leads readers along new paths, which is why I "publish" the work. All my work is in the public domain just so people can be inspired to make of it what they will....In the philosophy that lies at the heart
of Quakerism, divinity speaks to every person through their heart, with
intermediaries, and you are following the path with steps every bit as sure as mine can ever be. Don't be afraid to make of things what you are moved to make of them: as far as I'm concerned, there's no
place for jealous ego in the the making of beauty or in caring....

I was drawn to poetry by the fact that I could write it with a facility that startled people: it's much more effective than normal cursing....

Summer  -  Moongate seeks "world peace and personal peace thru poetry". Is this an impossible dream?

Dave  -  The only way that poets can really make a difference in the pursuit of...is by altering the way that language represents reality in the farthest, dimmest recesses of consciousness. Humans have an unfortunate tendency to use metaphors as symbols for actualities, to embrace and defend metaphors with the same ferocity that they employ to protect their other property and chattels. The new metaphor, the new piece of crystal insight that becomes part of the collective psychological landscape can help move the weight of thought toward one side of the scale or the other in the contest between fever dreams and cloudscapes.

For every poet, the unspoken objective is the same:

Obligatto for Poets

If in all your life,
You create one phrase
That, some centuries hence,
Still is shorthand for a
Kind of beauty, a touch
Of love, an instant of peace,
The moment of illumination that
Every soul knows and desires,
Then you will have changed the world more
Than any builder of monuments,
Any slayer of tyrants,
Or any prattler of the madness
We so mistake for sanity.

Summer  As you are so strongly attracted to words, how do you feel about the way language
is being used in today's world?

Dave  -  I'm rather schizoid on the topic of language, actually. After being a translator for 40
years, I'm acutely aware of the its total inadequacy as a tool for imparting understanding in the traditional didactic monologue. It's good to see people attempting to overthrow its classical uses
in reasoning, where the attached public content of our vocabularies is the genetic mechanism of fallacy and and underpinning of genuine tyrannies. On the other hand, I greatly enjoy playing
with the stuff of metaphor and image at new levels, often semi-abstract. Indeed, some of my
clearest poetry has been condemned as 'subversive' for daring to urge a departure from the mechanically reportorial, the kind of writing I often refer to as 'strunkly white.'

The interesting thing is that the attitude of writers toward language is shifting: after a long
absence, I see a great deal more writing here that I consider interesting, and much more intently crafted anti-sophistic work. I have no quarrel at all with the wild sprawling torrent of semiwords that youth seems to be trying to forge into a new idiom. And the ghastly mind-numbing idiocy
of English orthography is a fair target, especially as we no longer hold literacy in general to be
the home province of our assorted priesthoods. The latter are entitled to continue using the argots
of mind-thieves, reviling the young for having ideas that cannot be described within their confines: it's the traditional way of preserving the history of ideas, as vital for rectification of canonical error as for an understanding of how we created our own self-referential bell-jar.

So we need new uses and usages for old words, as well as a vast crop of hybrid coinages to
describe new and previously unthinkable comprehensions. Still, words remain the slow medium
in which one can use time as an aid to the formulation of deeper, denser image stacks. The catch
is in persuading the reader that the time frozen therein is worth thawing and re-expending at the personal level....

Summer  -  Here are to opposing thoughts:

life is better than death
death is better than life

Can you "impart some understanding of how humankins ended up believing/acting out both of
the above?

David  - Because just one answer or the other to the meaning of life and death is unbearable:
you can't have both at the same time and you can't know which is more desirable, because you
have no experience of what the future is like in either. The only hint is that the unwinding of
the internal clock may slow everything down to the point where it might as well be eternity (and
it is for the one experiencing it).... That's why dream time is sometimes so slow that you can live
a year in a three minute nap....


to David's chapbook

interviews  ~  Moongate