Nail Chiodo

22 Things

A list of twenty-two things my poetry has arguably accomplished.

  1. To do what Nietzsche identified 132 years ago as being a worthwhile endeavor for a great poet, namely to deal with the topic of “the boredom of God on the Seventh Day of Creation” (viz. “Loud in War, Canto X”);
  2. to do what Wittgenstein confessed he would have liked but was not quite able to do: to write philosophy as a poetic composition (viz. “Noncense”);
  3. to provide a plausible explanation for the particular nature of Sisyphus’ otherworldly punishment (viz. “The Sisyphus of Myth”);
  4. to provide an account of the moral quid pro quos of the sixties and seventies in the United States that has been praised by Rick Perlstein, one of America’s most distinguished historians, as being “full of fascinating insights and deft formulations” (viz. “The Penitentiary”);
  5. to borrow Ginsburg’s line “I have seen the best minds of my generation” and use it in an updated context (viz. “The Penitentiary”);
  6. to provide a new take on the old problem of the “Two Cultures” that Northrop Frye said was far from nonsensical and characterized by both lightness and clarity (viz. “Noncense”);
  7. to hint – in verse! – at the assignation of the Nobel Prize to Seamus Heaney nine years before it happened (viz. “Noncense”);
  8. to suggest that Manhattan’s sky scrapers might well end up like Roman ruins and suggest some possible reasons why, thirteen years before 9/11 (viz. “What the Whale Said”);
  9. to quote from one of Italy’s most renowned philosophers, as well as the editor of the critical edition of all of Nietzsche’s works and of all those of the pre-Socratic philosophers, Giorgio Colli, who is practically unknown to English-speaking audiences (viz. “Noncense”);
  10. to inform readers about solitons, the waves that explain why there is permanence and continuity in the Universe, and about the curious occasion upon which they were first observed (viz. “Loud in War, Canto X”);
  11. to elucidate mathematically why the number 7 is “magical” (viz. “Loud in War, Canto X”);
  12. to situate theoretically, and non-gratuitously expand upon, Eliot’s famous lines “In the room the women come and go, / Talking of Michelangelo.” (viz. "Loud in War, Canto XII");
  13. to provide a candid, gutsy, thorough, and precise description of some of the implications of Quantum Theory (viz. Loud in War, Canto XII);
  14. to provide some elucidations in regard to the implications and actual workings of the cloning of human beings (viz. "Loud in War, Canto XIII");
  15. to publicize the econometric datum at the start of “Lucus Feroniae, Canto I”, based on authoritative calculations to the effect that the aggregate amount of energy employed by mankind has, since the nineteen-sixties, exceeded the total amount of energy that reaches the Earth from the Sun (which is at the origin of all life cycles): a datum both largely unknown and poetically significant, not least because it allows one to draw the metaphorical conclusion “Man had outweighed the Sun in his worth”. This should be sufficient, in my mind, to alert readers that the type of information they might encounter in my texts is not only not “common knowledge”, but that it may even have very deep, anthropological implications. In fact, the anthropological level constitutes the bottom line of my line of reasoning on these issues. Towards the end of Canto II, which follows upon the one just mentioned, I quote a very interesting claim that Claude Lévi-Strauss made towards the very end of his long life, to the effect that, after having studied all sorts of human communities, from the most “primitive” to the most “advanced”, there was only ONE conclusion he felt certain he could draw, namely that “no human community can contain more than five-hundred members and not, in some manner or another, split in two”. Now this too is a bit of info that is not common knowledge but which, if one believes it to be true (and I don’t see why one should not), has far-reaching implications. Indeed, the most informed and probative analyses of the ecological bottleneck humanity is facing (also these are not common knowledge, being lost amidst huge amounts of gibberish – and this is where the unique capacity of poetry to select and go to the heart of issues comes in) concur in saying that the extremely “local level” must play a renewed, fundamental role, albeit in a renewed “globalized” context, in the future organization of mankind, if it is to survive. Here again, I am able to introduce a very precious little tidbit of scientific knowledge within the context of a relatively long, conversational poem, because it is organic to the overall trend of thought: in effect, it has taken me years to single out what has seemed most to the point and to find ways to put it in verse form, to fit it into the framework of my related sets of poems. The point being that poetry alone is in a position to reclaim the centrality it has enjoyed in human discourse since the start, and address the issues that are confronting us today in a selective, truly heart-felt, and intelligent manner;
  16. to recount, from an entirely novel perspective, a little bit about the history and significance of pragmatism (viz. “Lucus Feroniae, Canto V”, part about “Fred");
  17. to describe an original kerygmatic/agnostic approach to Christian religion (viz. "Lucus Feroniae, Cantos VII-VIII");
  18. to provide a novel account of Giotto’s contribution to the development of western art (viz. "Lucus Feroniae, Canto IX");
  19. to denounce the scandalous relations of power and privilege that permeate the current poetry “establishment”, which reproduce in toto – on the model of the military-industrial complex, it would appear – those reigning in academic circles (viz. "Lucus Feroniae Part Two, Canto IV");
  20. to hopefully save from oblivion the music of one of the great composers of our times (viz. “Lucus Feroniae Part Two, Canto V”);
  21. to publicize and popularize an extraordinary new theory based upon recent statistical analyses of heretofore unavailable data, that has been coming out of Cambridge and Paris and whose primary exponent is the historian/demographer Emmanuel Todd, which effectively puts to rest all sorts of age-old misconceptions about the nature and causes of historical developments by providing a fascinating alternative, facts-and-figures explanation of them (viz. "Lucus Feroniae Part Two, Canto VI");
  22. and, dulcis in fundo, to have laid the groundwork for a self-extending (in the Rortyian sense) synthesis between philosophy and poetry (viz. "Lucus Feroniae Part Two, Canto III").