Saturday, May 29, 2010

Poetry as antibiotic, malpractice, and placebo effect

I came across this article by John Lundberg in the venerable HuffPo recently: Can Poetry Heal?

I found these lines particularly ironic and troubling (in that they seek to make poetry untroubled and untroubling):

"Longo also speaks to a third potential benefit of writing poetry: that writing a poem can help to clear up one's emotions on a complex issue."

"Experts are careful to stress that poetry is a tool, which, wrongfully employed, can hurt rather than heal a patient. But many feel that it has significant potential. In a Time Magazine article on poetry therapy, Yale Psychiatrist Albert Rothenberg offered that "poetry by itself does not cure," but noted the benefit of its unique focus on verbalization, which, he offered, is "the lifeblood of psychotherapy."

Calling Robert Kocik here - by subtlest and therefore most potent means - to treat the iatrogenic effects produced above...gathering myself for emergent measures...induce the chronic to remediate the acute..

Poets, still trying to make poetry anesthetic to remove the sting of aesthetics?

Psychiatrists, still trying to defang poetry into talking cure?

I was taught by the guy who wrote "April is the cruelest month for poetry." He encouraged my proclivity for thought experiments, private languages, heterodox rituals. My ethnic group celebrates a holiday called "No" Day. I wrestle nearly daily with the healing that's carried in the word healing. With my own fascination. The temporality in the word I don't want to let go of... Attempts to make poetry palatable or palliative are not healing but rather perpetuating of insults. As David Levi Strauss writes in Between Dog and Wolf, art that has therapeutic potential, remedial potential, has to be aesthetic or re-sensitizing in the root sense, rather than anesthetizing. I cooked a bit with Strauss's work--perhaps that deserves a separate post. And now I'll refrain from going on about how Lacan claimed to have "fixed" Artaud, etc., etc.

From the old pharmakopeia:
The song in Lévi-Strauss’s “The Effectiveness of Symbols” is efficacious, but does its efficacy come from the patient’s belief in the power of the song or the shaman’s belief in his own power? Or is it rather that the energetic mediation of forces enacted by the song might be inseparable from the song’s function as myth? Energy is not merely carried by the words or vocables; it cannot be pulled apart from their meaning—-or “meaninglessness.” The act of transmission—-like the responsive and affirming utterance of mu around the circle—-is the cure, and thus the cure comes from poetry.

Art is not cure but pharmakon.
(Visceral Poetics)

No comments:

Post a Comment