Poet or Philosopher

Rashid:… I actually want to understand if according to you the personality of a poet and a philosopher is complementary or has potential to merge with each other? For example, a poet shamelessly write about his personal experience but philosopher does not. Philosopher is much more careful about his action and try to control himself while poets are carefree. 

Musab Iqbal: This subject has occupied me for a long but it doesn’t mean that I know the answer. I am far from the answer. I am far from answer for most of my question perhaps this is the answer of all my queries.

A philosopher can be defined in number of ways and so is the poet. The problem occurs that who is there to define. Usually the emergence of knowledge as discipline plays a critical role in defining or subjectivising the objects.

Having said that it is clear that there is an entity called philosophers and there is someone known as poet. Both dwell deep into thought. Both are thinkers. Both reflect. Both go through violent and incessant pain.

The difference emanates in observation and expression. Poet throws himself into situation and philosopher pulls himself out. ‘Miraji’ cannot live without ‘Miraji’ to produce poetry or thought, his love is a pure indulgence and an only source of production or poetic existence while for Plato this is nothing but ‘a serious mental disease’

This play of getting in and getting out is what defines a philosopher or a poet.

A poet experiences and tries to live it, he/she expresses this experience in a lyrical form and as a personal experience while a philosopher sees it as a problem (not mere experience) and he/she considers his/her existence in the experience as mere accident (as Derrida would argue) therefore a philosopher avoids autobiography (historically) and Derrida says that this politeness and impoliteness is philosophy. This may be one of the reasons why philosopher doesn’t commit suicide and poets do.

For a poet entire universe starts to converge in his being while for a philosopher everything starts to diverge and scatter from his being.

A poet is ‘always there’ while a philosopher is ‘never there’.

A philosopher always tries to make even his experience/observation a universal question. He tries to expand it, he tries to broaden the horizon of every single problem, experience and observation. The poet don’t try it, never articulate it – jo dil pe guzarti hai raqam karte rahenge(continue to write from whatever our heart has gone thorough). A poet tries to individualize the pain instead of universalizing it.  Therefore one finds his solace in a poet not in a philosopher.

Controlling one action is also linked to the above-mentioned point. I don’t completely agree with your statement because there were philosophers who lived carelessly, said what they wanted to say, and lived the way they wanted to live, indulged in things in which they wanted to indulge. Foucault is the best example. A poet appears to be more carefree because he doesn’t fear the value judgment; he is not giving lessons in ethics or morality. He can write shikwa (Complaint) and jawab e shikwa (answer of complaint) .

He can expose the incoherence and contradictions of life in the most contradictory fashion while a philosopher tries to find coherence in the incoherence and incoherence in the coherence.  There are poets who are philosophers and there are philosophers who are poet. This is perhaps the most interesting category and most complex one – The epitome of rational – emotional fusion. Jon elia, Iqbal, Ibn e Hazm, Derrida, Nietzsche and many other belong to this category.

To read more of Musab Iqbal- http://musab.in/

24th March 2014

  • Rashid Abbasi: Why do people write poems? I mean don’t you ever feel discouraged?

    Musab Iqbal: discouraged with/discouraged for?

    Rashid Abbasi:We belong to a different era. The method to express yourself creatively has changed. Technology has made it easy at the same time everyone is too busy in dealing with information overflow. When people are too busy in other modes of entertainment or communication. who has the time to contemplate or find out hidden meaning of a poem? or is it important for me to think about that? Because at the same time I feel I should keep on writing and my love for poetry doesn’t mean that I am a good poet.

    Musab Iqbal: I think for me writing is the only way not to get discouraged, through writing I get the light, I feel the light. Writing is not only about expressing but it has deeper project the project of archiving the time – the emotion of the time – the tension of the time. My poem is the translation of my time. The question may arise that why am I writing a poem – was it intended?

    In age of absurd material/industrial production or hyper capitalism what poetry has to do may be asked as a question. I think Walter Benjamin in two of his brilliant work raised similar question. One, while writing on poet Baudelaire and one on question of art in age of mechanical production. His both writing might help.

    I can guarantee you one thing even everything is on table, everything is on google – the thinking, the thought has a future. Poetry is a form of thought. It may take new forms of expression but since thinking has a future, poetry has too

    It was indeed a beautiful conversation.
    Now, a Poem* by N.M. Rashid which describes beautifully the preoccupation with creative effort and state of absorption.

    Phir bhii andeshah vuh aaindah hai jis mae goyaa
    miir ho , miirzaa ho , miiraajii ho
    kuchh nahiin dekhte hain

    Nevertheless thought is that future in which, so to speak,
    Mir would be, Mirza [Ghalib] would be, Miraji would be
    we see nothing

    mahvar-e ishq kii khvuud-mast haqiiqat ke sivaa
    apne hii biim-o-rajaa apnii hii suurat ke sivaa

    except for the self-intoxicated reality of the absorption in passion,
    except for our own terror and hope, our own face,

    apne rang , apne badan , apnii hi qaamat ke sivaa
    apnii tanhaaii-e jaan-kaah kii vahshat ke sivaa

    except for our complexion, our body, our stature,
    except for the wildness of our life-exhausting solitude,

    dil-kharaashii-o- jigar-chaakii-o- khuun-afshaanii
    huun to naa-kaam par hote hain mujhe kaam bahut

    heart-lacerating and liver-tearing and blood-scattering
    I’m useless, but there remain for me many tasks.