"If humanity, truth, and eternity are big words - bigger, in any event, than what we are accustomed to these days - then let us justify artistic existence as lifelong faithfulness to language.
Every poet knows that the gift of the gods is not fire but language. "Man dwells poetically on this earth," Hölderlin wrote. Language is the essence of being human. We can think, thanks to language, for thought exists only by the grace of words. Our experiences and emotions are molded by language. It is language that allows us to name and know the world. We ourselves are known by language, through prayer, confession, poetry. Language gives us a world that reaches beyond the reality of the moment, to a past (there was ...) and a future (there shall be ...). It is through language that eternity has a space and that the dead continue to speak: "Defunctus adhuc loquitur" (Hebrews, 11:14). Thanks to language, there is meaning, there is truth.
Language cannot tolerate lies. A lie renders words mute, seizes their soul. It is not by chance that language was the greatest concern of such writers as Aleksander Wat, Anna Akhmatova, Primo Levi, and Victor Klemperer. Each of them was forced to experience the cult of the lie. Like Paul Celan, they knew that wherever the meaning of words is destroyed by fire, truth and humankind burn with the words."
- Rob Riemen, Nobility of Spirit (See Recommended sidebar.)
Note: Riemen will make his only public NYC appearance on October 30. Details in Worthy Readings sidebar at left.)