I am in the process of writing poems in reply to 20th Century European poets, writers, and thinkers. My continuing the conversation in which these writers have engaged is another way of keeping their conversation relevant and maintaining their voices in the contemporary world beyond the anthology, scholarship, and translation. I wish to read and re-read the work of each of these writers and compare translations for the integral nature of each voice and the elements of their contribution to the cultural conversation in which they engaged.
My book-length manuscript titled “Minds of Europe” is a series of poorly scribed palimpsests, a bridge to the early 20th Century, a séance of sorts to channel poets and thinkers that Paul Valery called collectively “the mind of Europe:” “Every mind of any scope was a crossroads for all shades of opinion; every thinker was an international exposition of thought. There were the works of the mind in which the wealth of contrasts and contradictory tendencies was like the insane displays of light in the capitals of those days: eyes were fatigued, scorched….” Nietzsche, Freud, and Eliot all had something to say about the idea, enough to make it a core concept to Modernism.
The manuscript is broken into two chapters. The second chapter “Shell Shocked” begins with Eliot’s remark that “For our society, the improvement of ethics might require the decay of aesthetics.” The use of psychological language to understand WWI &II as the symptoms of a “disorder of the mind” is one of the topics from the cultural conversation in art of the period. Scholars suggest that the art produced during the 20th Century was an attempt at talk therapy.