A Modern Supreme Fiction

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The supreme fiction is an undertaking that Wallace Stevens prophesied, but will not be revealed until order is restored by the ephebe. The youthful poets, who are the target audience, must write the end to chaos in their realizations of the world as poetry (imagination). Poetry as an art has been drowned in a sea of postmodern neologisms; much to a degree where seasoned poets must reach back in the annals of lyric poetry to find words that tow the line as to what Stevens suggests is the supreme fiction. The irony of this is that scholars, too, are not to be trusted with this task.

The supreme fiction as it is presented by these ephebes is the poetry of the current world deluded by tales of individual human suffering. These are the stories of the poets who deal with the external world under the pressure of their own internalized realities and perceptions; however, these stories do not account for the suffering of Earth or the recognition that there is no way to detach humanity from nature. These ephebes are called to devolve back to their respective neophyte stages so that they may re-learn how to exist in a universe that they themselves have created and will continue to create in the future.

The imagination is both a world of creation and the creator of that world; “the poet within him, the conceiving self of any man.” (Doggett 1) In the imagination, the poets who will restore order must learn to absorb as many realizations and perceptions from other poets. This is the creation of imagination itself; the endless process of creative human flux. Perceptions depend upon the poets to seek them out because that is the only way the supreme fiction may be written.

Consider “order” to be viewed through an ecocritical lens; especially a modern one. This order refers to the decontamination of nature as an external force through the amalgamation of perceptions, or internal natures, of the poets. This is not limited to the traditionally identified idea of poetry as it is applied to written literature. These poets are chemists as much as they are typists and orators of creation; the imagination applies to and envelops every human; however, not every human will accept this imposition and they may even find themselves denying its existence.

This is how the Earth, as dictated by human consciousness over the time of their existence, has descended into chaos. When “poets” decide that imagination is reserved for individual processes and when they presume that some have a pre-disposed gift of accessing that imagination, it has an ironic consequence: the individualistic approach to imagination culminates as a inciter for chaos because of a consensus from humanity to reject its necessity as a collective process. In part, this is the inner violence of the imagination pressing against the violence of reality without.

To suggest and make the imagination collectively universal is to break every human from their individually constructed limits regarding their own imagination and consciousness; however, this cannot be forced or ordered. To make a change this drastic is also to wait indefinitely for individual human perception to come to realizations that changes are necessary. Change breeds change and for many humans who dismiss this or deny its existence, it is a lack of foresight that will lead to an unexpected change.

Harmony is not necessarily the answer; and it is perhaps unachievable, but that cannot be accurately predicted. Solidarity of humanity, in which a global convergence of imagination takes place, even temporarily, may be a start to the story. It is too familiar to humans, inherently, but has become foreign over time because of complacency, division, and lack of foresight. Our concepts of Earth and the universe lie in our interpretations; thus, through metaphysically conjuring our current world, we materialized it and made it so. It cannot be beyond the realm of possibility to let our creations decay without producing another change; but, as Stevens suggests, we must re-grow. This change cannot be forced upon the Earth, but it can be upon ourselves at the individual level. As the state of the physical world continues to decline, our attachment to inherent familiarity weakens and our perception of our creations become warped; however, this has happened throughout our temporal history.

Our physical world conceived by our metaphysical attachments is the “…place dependent on ourselves.” A reinforcement of these attachments must ensue, but organically as the world changes; however, it is not necessary for the world to get worse. If there are oppositions within the world, there will be contrast and that contrast will affect change. It just so happens that humanity finds itself in a crisis of its own conjuring; thus, a change is already in effect and there are many who have or are undergoing the process of refreshing their attachments to inherent familiarity with imagination. This only happens because we are tethered to the world that we created; even if we ignore it.

The supreme fiction must be a story about balance as much as it would be of abstraction and pleasure. If the poets turn the actual into the fictive, they must wrestle with the language to do so. This language obviously refers to the poetry itself, but to the fellow human who may need to undergo their transformation, this language must be accessible to them. The poet’s job is to externalize their internal nature and to shine their aesthetic light on external nature for humanity. Balance only happens when humanity pushes back against this language and this exposure because as oppositions and contrasts arise, change will as well.

Humanity, having buried their memories of their familiarities, will label the poet’s language as foreign and sacrilegious to the current zeitgeist; a product of complacency. It is an act of rebellion that has happened for so long that it has become a satiation of imagination. It is the “…distaste we feel for this withered scene.” And these repetitions are the levees that keep the poetic flood from washing away the cycle and beginning the ultimate change.

For the change to begin, the poet must push past the initial resistance of the world; that is, they must see themselves as able to harness the world within their capabilities in language. This is the other part about the inner violence within. The poet will face resistance from his perception of external nature’s reaction to his grasp of that initial idea; which may be its own cycle to be conquered. The poet, I think, must realize that the Earth as a physical microcosm of external nature came before the idea of warping it to one’s internal nature. As an individual idea, this is the first obstacle; however, as an abstract idea, the first obstacle for the poet is to tame the Earth’s resistance.

Accounting for reality, and its quick normal imposing on the mind is something that must be experienced for us to break that mold and inherit “Major Man” in our consciousness. This is the idea of capturing those fleeting moments; either from our own memories or from memories of history of nature. Change from memory that stems from our quick bout with reality as our conscious resistance pushes back and warps it as well. Once that has occurred, the poet must make his creation known or unknown, overt or obscure, “…visible or invisible.” A literal interpretation of this line may be valid because a poet will strive to highlight nature by using either overt language or subtle imagery.

The same can be said for bringing awareness to nature; either the poet may take the route of near propaganda and force the acknowledgement of nature onto the rest of humanity or they will take a more poetic approach and use tropes to expose it. I think Stevens leans towards the latter because although the propaganda tactic causes more opposition, the creation and change of the world hinges on the use of language. This language is key because of the niche forces at play in terms of human consciousness toward nature. Accessible language, the vulgate, will be the vessel in which change will be delivered, but only as a means of exposure and not forced acknowledgement or interaction. The consideration of humanity is the only target for the poet, especially when speaking on nature.

The poet must understand his simple existence. “A thing final in itself and, therefore, good: / One of the vast repetitions final in / Themselves and, therefore, good, the going round…” Stevens suggests that existence itself is comprised of all the repetitions of nature and the universe as a means to be perceived by the consciousness which we ourselves can see. The mind cries out for existence as it tries to subvert the repetitions and create a new image of reality or perception of it.

The individual mind is the one that cries out because the collective human consciousness is lost in the repetitions of existence. We have historical perspectives that ultimately become useless to us because our collective consciousness rejects any change that would attack our complacencies and established positions in the world. Often the individual mind gets lost in the collective as it convinces itself of an existence that is absolutely dictated by repetitions without escape.

The thin line that the individual mind must walk is the notion of perishing by rejecting the collective or relinquishing individual consciousness to the collective and shrinking; that is, if the individual mind consciously decides to avoid the mechanisms of a collective thought-perception-cycle, then they will reject human bonds without processing the potential benefits from those bonds. The individual mind will then rely solely on idiosyncratic thought patterns which is devoid of human connection; thus, there will be no resistance for it, except for in external nature if they have a natural wherewithal.

The story of Heaven and Hell have already been created in our human world within their respective poetic languages. The story of Earth as conjured by the poet will not be written; however, it will be expressed in the actions of humanity as they work toward an antidote to chaos. It is also not obvious that the perspective of this fiction must be from the poet. As the Earth deteriorates, the stories of the Earth become more frequent and are written as didactic warnings for the end. These stories are from the scientists that study the many biological and environmental fields and the humans that are still aware of their familiarities with internal and external nature. Scientists state their facts and it is up to the public to listen and adjust their imprint on nature accordingly; at least that is what should happen.

Humans that call for an act of restoration of nature do so from an unscientific pedestal laced with desperation; thus, the non-complacent disrupt the false sense of security in nature’s future. These stories come from the perspective of people who require a change, but they are bound by reality. I wonder if the “abstract” is an impossible perspective that we have not recognized; that is, the perspective of the dead and in this current reality, the perspective of the victims of nature in rebellion.

We wrote of Heaven and Hell; it must not be out of the realm of possibility that Heaven and Hell may write about Earth through the language of its poets. This would break a cycle of realistic detachment from nature within fictions because they are all told from the perspective of all earthly biological creatures. In this case, the supreme fiction must be told historically for the intent of future safety of nature; thus, this fiction must pleasurably intend to keep the sanctity and preservation of nature paramount. This does not mean that the supreme fiction must be told of this earth as if it were the past.

The “dead” write their experiences as a collective of their past about the world now. The secondary effect of this would be that humans never detach from their familiarities with Earth, and instead foster an unconditional respect for it so that a seemingly impossible eternity of balance between humans and external nature will ensue. Poets must make this pleasurable and, I think, hopeful. Hope can be pleasurable if it appeals to Erato, human’s desires; that is, their desire for a future of balance and survivability.

Humans with non-literal poetic sensibilities, or at least perceiving that they have none, have their tasks to bring this fiction into fruition. They must listen to nature; that is, the way poets listen to nature, but they must conjure ways of individually changing nature as they work in tandem with the poets who expose it. Another case of individual awareness that will lead to collective benefit in both mind and body. In our current situation, we must work until we reach a global reciprocity with nature. Continuing with this theme of balance; it is not necessary that all humans follow this doctrine. It would be nearly impossible to suggest to all of humanity that there is an impending doom; especially if it was told didactically. It is only necessary that enough human interaction ensues for the scale to tip in the favor of balance.

“From this the poem springs: that we live in a place / That is not our own and, much more, not ourselves / And hard it is in spite of blazoned days.” The seemingly eternal damnation that is existence lends itself to humanity so that they may change through collective suffering. The ultimate resistance in our case is external nature against a corrupted human collective; even if this corruption stems from a few bad eggs. We can assume that our internal natures possess the same faculties that external nature does; thus, humanity lives in a mirror of themselves.

It is why internal corruption manifests itself as external pollution. This is a connection that begins at the very core of human morality as it descends into chaos based on the decisions of individual humans that affect the collective; insofar as it suppresses or subdues one part and elevates the other. This is a willful omission of humanness that is often laced with indignant reality-based diction from some that is meant to control the populace and misinform them. This is the human resistance against themselves. As time continues, even as we see now, the system begins to dismantle as the mirror becomes clearer, and the young poets craft the fiction.

“To discover an order as of / A season, to discover summer and know it, / To discover winter and know it well, to find, / Not to impose, not to have reasoned at all, / Out of nothing to have come on major weather, / It is possible, possible, possible.” The fiction lives in circumstances based in reality and paradoxically conjured by the human brain as it exists within it; however, the realm of possibility has an important role within the fiction, but exists as a separate entity from reality within it. Possibility can be directly correlated to experience. Humans can often determine the potentiality of situations through experience, therefore rendering most humans the passersby of their discoveries and bonds.

Reality based on possibility can be conducive to producing the supreme fiction as I suggest it should be. It would be a possibility that humans reach balance within themselves and external nature through a reality based on solely discovering moments and bonds. If we are letting the natural order of things take its course, then this would work for the subject of change because there would absolutely be no mandatory need for it. Happenstance moments that lead to humans finding balance would work the same, but the human element would be subtracted from the equation; and, if that is true, then suffering would also have to be subtracted because there will be no igniter for change. Possibility is a different kind of naturalness that manifests itself in its own compartment within reality and humans recognize its existence; thus, in the supreme fiction, poets must account for possibility within their language. They must address it and even prepare for it because it may pose as another resistance.

Humans can determine possibilities based on experience, but possibility in external nature is clouded in erratic behavior. This is precisely why Mother Nature is a personification for external nature; it has a mind of its own and can combat human nature. Yet the poets adapt to this behavior and change with it because they see the resistances from possibility and marry them in a union of oppositions. Through the experiential bout with possibilities the poet will garner a world within him in which he can establish a shift in perception in other people and himself; thus, the “Theater of Trope” is also established as it constitutes a world of constant turning and change through the center of experience and possibility.

Chaos in Stevens’ world may be defined as the reality we corrupted through imagination within the reality that produced us. “A violent order is a disorder; and / A great disorder is an order. These / Two things are one.” In our world the disorder is dichotomous as it resides in external nature and our internal consciousness. Though in the supreme fiction, it may be necessary that we manifest our consciousness upon this disorder. Just as the poet sees his own consciousness as the water, we must see the decay of our planet as a manifestation of our collective complacency based on repetitions. The repetitions of our day are closely represented by countless justifications. The justification for taking coal out of the earth is that it will feed people and create a future of sustainable industry. This is one of the worst long-term decisions humanity has made.

Not only has this justification created a future reality in which we molest nature to the point of inhospitality, but it has already created an opposite effect than intended. The problem with this justification is that the imagined results were wrong because we tried to subvert nature and use it for complete greed. Intentions are irrelevant in this case because the act of molesting external nature is damaging to the collective human consciousness; and in the case of climate change, the more carbon dioxide in the air, the less oxygen our brains get. It is a physical consequence to an imagination of corruption. The longer humanity repeats the cycle of greed through the stripping of nature, the longer the supreme fiction will be stifled. A change is needed, and though it must not be ordered, it must be realized based on nature’s signs to us.

These signs may be perceived based on our current state of affairs and if humanity comes to a consensus on these signs, then the collective repetitious corruption will begin to change to a cycle of reparation and balance; thus, I propose the supreme fiction of our day to be a mirror as well as a representation of balance between human nature and external nature. We must view nature as a mirror of our own emotional constitution as a collective and subvert complacency based on how nature has responded historically to our molestation.

The supreme fiction seems to be on the horizon, but it is racing with the consequences of human cycles. The poets of the world have yet to reach a point of conscious consensus, but they still hold the tools to experience and shift with the change that they imagine. Through the stories of the victims of our consequences, the poets can recraft what it means to live in our own imagination and be within the nature that we may conjure; that is, a nature that we benefit from and benefits from us.

Once we reach this state, we may write from the apotheosis of human existence as it is an intertwining of internal and external nature, shared by a free-flowing flux of imagination between the collective human consciousness. Abstraction will be the restoration of purpose to those who died; that is, vengeance for those who died at the cycle of consequences. Pleasure will be derived from a fulfilment of our desires for a future of survivability without the ruination of external nature. It will also come from the success of our collective suffering; that is the obstacles our minds and bodies will face during the restoration of nature. The poets of our day will document the supreme fiction as the moment humanity suffers together to restore a full reciprocal bond with nature and themselves.

Works Cited

  1. Doggett, Frank. “The Invented World: Stevens’ ‘Notes Toward a Supreme Fiction.’” Elh, vol. 28, no. 3, 1961, p. 284., doi:10.2307/2872070.
  2. Stevens, Wallace, and Holly Stevens. The Palm at the End of the Mind: Selected Poems and a Play. Vintage Books, 1990.

Cite this paper

A Modern Supreme Fiction. (2021, Mar 28). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/a-modern-supreme-fiction/

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