Interpreting Minerva

Quietly agnostic and vaguely proud in this conceit,
inhabiting a place where nothing certain or impossible exists,
he spends an existential season in the snow.

Huddled against the chill in a mandarin crowd of theory,
he warms his ego on the pretense of light
and feeds a hungry spirit on sacred ghosts of meat.

Digestion refines in him a genius for self-deception,
renders truth untenable and lies pragmatic in their service to his will.
So impish and alluring are the figments

that take the place of his conceptual redeemer,
they accelerate in him a feverish rush to the luxury of idle thought.
And all this moonshine ferments in his brain.

Wholly intoxicated and riddled with contradiction,
he exists clumsily on declarations of impossibility, humming canticles
in the vestibule of knowledge, but never entering the sacred nave.

A fugitive from that merciless illumination,
the poor apostate finds comfort in pools of saturnalian ecstasy,
freeing the eternal animal that winters in his soul.

And though lodged irredeemably in sensual flesh
and subject to the mercenary whims of ungoverned instinct,
he floats on the rare insanities of metaphysics,

buoyant with enthusiasm for the noumenal,
interpreting Minerva not as she is but as he needs her to be.
Cause is not the matter, only effect concerns him now,

but neither denial nor indulgence can help him escape the whiff
of dreadful untruth that rises from his raft of fantasy.
In a world with no core, it is a strange symmetry of deviation,

a balance by extremes, that defines him at the margins
and makes him loose his way. At best, it is a brutal amnesty. At worst,
a platonic catastrophe. And it all has the ring of an unruly lie.

His only answer is to come and go, thoughtfully,
letting everything pass into its opposite and then pass again,
along the path applying his beloved abstractions

to himself and to the concrete world in which he lives,
approximating a moral renaissance rising from the explicit excretions
of his personal modernity,

neither doctoring the fugues, nor cursing the faults,
nor loving the joys too dearly—not solving the problems of existence,
but living with them, gracefully.

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