Dumb Messenger

Anjuli Fatima Raza Kolb at the Poetry Foundation:

In halls and moods of violent possession, we speak of languages as things we “have.” This mood comes easy when the books are small and green—a Loeb’s fits in the palm like a secret jewel, a perfect bun. Its loose-woven ribbon reminds us the gift is inside, our reading an unwrapping—happy birthday to our most serious, our highest mind. In the early aughts, I was often high haha.

In those days, when I was still a teenager, I went over and over the lines in the Timaeus that told me what we might be about. Our atoms and waves, our tides and our matter. I didn’t know then how much of this is in Lucretius, too, from the Atomists, and also in a lot of hokey theory that comes out now about mycology and the end times. I worry that if these idiot dialogues are the kind of philosophy that covers up its poetry—lets people forget about, well, people and their errors, language and its habit of always running away and wild, which also means forgetting about justice—then maybe the Timaeus is also bad, since it telegraphs messages about ideal forms and eternal essences, whether it wants to or not. I mostly think philosophy is bad when we forget it’s poetry. Don’t talk to me about Plato on this subject.

More here.