Mary Douglas reminds us that sorcery and witchcraft, which she identifies as “pollution powers” (not toxins, but powers viewed systemically as problematic because of their transgressive nature) occur “where the lines of structure, cosmic or social, are clearly defined” (136). Queerness, as a construct, is made possible by the not-queer. The bipolar spectrum of sexuality and gender — man and woman — recognized for centuries by mainstream, white hegemony has made possible an articulation of the interstices between.
“Poetry … transmutes all that it touches,” wrote Percy Bysse Shelley in “A Defence of Poetry” (698). In 2022, when I’m grasping for really any concrete manner of hoping to influence the courses of destruction human capitalism/patriarchy/genocide has put the world on, I am, maybe paradoxically, drawn to poetic treatises like Shelley’s. He really thought, or at least said, that poetry can create change. We all probably know that he called poets the “unacknowledged legislators of the world” (as if we want to be related to politicians), but he also said that poetry is the “most unfailing herald, companion and follower … to work a beneficial change in opinion or institution,” that poets “are the hierophants of an unapprehended inspiration,” mirrors of the world that is or could be (700–701). Shelley gives me a version of poetry that effects, poetry that does work and does magic.
Language magic, language power, is in the balance of extremes. It’s in the Bardo. This, I would say, partly explains the Romantic interest in transgressing extreme boundaries through sublime experiences. The sublime in poetry is manifested as a description of an experience that involves returning, the pendulum swinging back to Earth from Heaven (or … wherever). Without the return, there is no sublimation, no matter-making (meaning-making, perhaps) from the transcendence. The visionary goes beyond the graspable, the namable, and returns without words. Words fail me.