Keats, Trish, Mind-Scapes

The rights and privileges of extremely developed individuality against the masses is a pertinent political issue raised by Keats’ Odes and odal cycle. A second issue is even more pertinent— what the political ramifications are when a sector of a given population decides to prioritize intellectuality, and to value cognitions and cognitive ability over raw, animal (“sensible,” in Kant’s terms) life. Keats makes clear in the Odes, via many incisive impositions, that for him the human mind is its own landscape, capable of generating entire worlds and universes against tactile reality. Against, also, what is generated for us by a society which would fill our heads with its own value systems, narratives, and visions, usually of different forms of material consonance, encumbered by the weight of different, enforced dumb-shows. Keats’ Psyche is merely a vision, and a cognitively generated one, out of the mythology of classical antiquity; the mind-scape he builds for his vision is a Platonically perfected representation of natural, tactile realities, abstracted metaphorically so that Keats odal mind generates its own flora and fauna, in tune with Keats’ beatific sense of quietness, murmurs, silence, frozen perspectives, sweetness, female sexuality, and all the levels of happy piety he sees in this Neo-Paganistic tableau. Society takes a tableau like this and makes it marginal.

The important thing, for the argument I am attempting to make, is that Keats respects and venerates his own mind and cognitive abilities, against the idea that the human mind is not (potentially) its own self-enclosed, self-sustaining, self-contained universe. Were a sector of the population, in America or anywhere else, to come to a similar conclusion; to decide that the mind can perfect what the body cannot; the country would (potentially) undergo a seismic reaction, towards the revelation that the “animal masses” would be forced to wrestle with their own feelings of inadequacy, resentment, and general discontent. This is why America has been soft on public intellectuals; they are too upsetting, too unsettling, too likely to pierce through the blarney levels which stain and stunt human society. Were a group of powerful public intellectuals to come to the fore, and be granted the ability to tell some substantial truth some of the time, America would commence to be variegated the right way, towards developing a portion of the populace which has at least some propensity for higher thought and concern with serious human issues. My prediction is that the twenty-first century will spell the end of anti-philosophical, post-modern America, towards a system whose politics are capable of being altered and generally effected by public intellectuals, whether writers and artists or scientists and philosophers. The heavy stuff won't have to end up in the margins all the time.

Oddly enough, Trish was written to represent the immediacy and vividness of the most sensual kind of human life. Trish, unlike Equations, is an incomplete dialectic; the thesis emerges at the end, that, for some unaccountable reason, some individuals need a sense of romance in their life and some do not. I do, actually, and most Aughts Philly stalwarts did, too. Yet the congeries of elements which populates this sonnet cycle manages to cover how advanced cognition might interact with sense and sensuality. The art of the mind completing the body’s work and vice versa is a major one for serious artists, and thus a major one for those of us in Aughts Philly. The political reality of the PFS way of life is a challenging one. We prioritized cognitive ability and developed individuality against the masses, and (more importantly than some might think) we also had a damned good time doing it, at 4325 and elsewhere. When our lifestyle in Aughts Philly hits the airwaves, so to speak, it will be an issue for America to deal with. Philadelphia was our “rosy sanctuary,” and a self-generated mind-scape for us, as well. If we chose to pursue politics in a lateral fashion, it does not mean pertinent political statements were not made. One essential, implicit PFS statement was about changing what's in the margins, and the imperative for America to broaden and diversify the mainstream.