I HAVE A BOLLINGEN AND YOU DON’T

“I face the world as it is, and cannot stand idle in the face of threats to the American people.  For make no mistake: evil does exist in the world.”

Who said this?

A. George Bush in 2002?

B.  Barack Obama in 2009?

The answer is B.

Spoken while accepting his Nobel Peace Prize.

The dubiousness of prize-giving drives human behavior. We all want to win the prize, grab the ring, possess that tangible token of our worth in the eyes of the world; this tangibility is what our invisible souls desire.  We cannot keep being fire or air or water forever; we want the earth, we want to hold the heavy trophy aloft and say, ‘This is mine, and you are all witnesses to the fact that I have won.’

This desire to make our dreams visible is not a bad thing, per se.

But we must watch that prostitution does not get tangled up in our love.

The dignity of our triumph depends on a system that gives, on another pair of hands which presents the prize, and the power to give a prize is a power that eclipses the prize itself, for prizes are useful to promote all sorts of wrong, and superstition would as quickly produce a symbol as science would question a symbol.

The poet, who lives by the symbol, is especially tempted to glory in a prize; but true poets are not beholden to symbolism; on the contrary, the poet learns symbolism to be free of it.

Behavior which bends towards a prize is not to be trusted.  The prize which stirs behavior a certain way should make us wary.   The behavior is finally all, and the prize merely a glimpse of it, and truth and modesty should attend, at every step, the receiving and the giving.

Foetics does not damn the prize.  It merely prizes the courage to look deeply into that crucial instant when giving becomes taking.

Advertisements