Defining Metaphysical Literature! Do you read or write it?
John Donne 1572- 1631
Because I tend to read and to write metaphysical literature, I thought I would re-post this attempt at a definition.
The term, Metaphysical literature, originally referred to poetic works from the 17th century and defined intellectually challenging poetry. Striving to incorporate the incorporeal, the transcendent, the noumenal, the subject matter itself posed a problem and poses it still. According to philosophers such as Nietzsche and Kant, nothing can be known about noumenal reality, not even that it exists. Yet, throughout the ages, humankind has striven to express the notion of soul, the fervour and truth accompanying vision and revelation, the divinity that speaks from within.
Early metaphysical poets such as John Donne extended metaphors that compared very dissimilar things. This was to make us think, to try to express the paradoxical nature of all things metaphysical. After all, in the search for truth and meaning, a truth is only considered a truth if it expresses both opposites and everything in between. Such is the struggle of the writer of metaphysics who attempts to clothe philosophical ideas plucked from the ethers of universal thought.
T.S. Eliot is a fine example of a more modern metaphysical poet. He wrestles with noumenal experiences using extended metaphor, as the ‘Things of God’s cannot be known in any other way.
Hermann Hesse 1877 – 1962
In terms of modern metaphysical literature, writers such as Paolo Coelho, Herman Hesse, and Jean Paul Sartre weave philosophical concepts into simple stories to which most can relate. These stories make us think. They make us question the meaning of life. They ask us to reach beyond the world of tangible reality and allow soul into life.
These days, modern metaphysical/visionary literature often crosses genres and enters into the little celebrated field of magic realism. In this genre, the supernatural is part of tangible reality; sprit and nature are interwoven, inseparable, and unquestioned, and the extraordinary is made ordinary. Metaphysical literature tells tales of the inner life. Usually these tales are told simply, in prose that reaches to express the beauty inherent in us and in the world about us. Its task is to give voice to soul and its yearning to transcend the suffering of everyday reality.
What is your favourite metaphysical literature? Do you read or write it?
I spent many an early morning dancing to the tunes of the little people. Very soon, they began to trust me, (Fairies seldom trust humans, as humans do very strange things to fairies and to fairyland), but I could dance a fine jig, pirouette often, sing a long song and recite a poem, all of which is of very great interest to fairies.
They taught me some of their ancient secrets about bees and butterflies, worms and magic bears who know such an awful lot about everything. They also taught me secrets about science and the sky, and how to grow up into someone who is wise (wise enough to still believe in fairies).
I like to share some of those mysteries with boys and girls (and grown-ups who still have magic in them) who are inquisitive but can also keep a secret. Sssssssssh! Promise you won’t tell anyone…
Are you ready? Now listen well, to the stories I will tell…