Wednesday, January 31, 2024

Review: Magdalena Zurawski's BEING HUMAN IS AN OCCULT PRACTICE

 



THE POET WRITES UNDER ONE RESTRICTION ONLY, NAMELY, THAT OF THE NECESSITY OF GIVING IMMEDIATE PLEASURE TO A HUMAN BEING POSSESSED OF THAT INFORMATION WHICH MAY BE EXPECTED FROM HIM, NOT AS A LAWYER, A PHYSICIAN, A MARINER, AN ASTRONOMER, OR A NATURAL PHILOSOPHER, BUT AS A MAN (Ibid, 312)


I talk about Magdalena Zurawski's book like some of my friends talk about DMT. "You don't find DMT, when you are ready...DMT finds you," they tell me. This is precisely how I feel about Being Human Is an Occult Practice. This essay, when it finds you, will not enable you to stay the same "thing" you were before you encountered it.

The language direct & thorough. There are an abundance of quotes and asides to delve into with the book being put down to fully explore and enmesh oneself within. Zurawski's own thinking & relationship to these excerpts, quotes & asides is refreshing & clear.

There seems to be a remnant of an aura or tinge of hermetic mystery which remains a positive influence on this work...because I haven't encountered many poets writing books like this in our current era. So I appreciate that there isn't much of a reference point for me here.

With reflection & further reading, I found a Zurawskian diligence in present evaluations of her particular vantage point within this world as a mark of courage. The quotes cited throughout seem to be efficient stones placed on the page not unlike a builder's discernment in placing the precisely needed pieces around a corner stone for fortitude & material endurance of a foundation. 

After all, human beings do have a source of power & inspiration. And finding (or creating) the road maps "to" this source can be a lifelong, arduous journey into & out of the Unknown, Unseen & Unheard. We become grateful for any road markers along the way.

Being Human Is an Occult Practice is a tremendously enjoyable, provoking and soul-nourishing read. That Zurawksi’s vision remains seemingly unwavering, unimpeded by the same suppressive system which she passionately evolves & works towards disturbing and/or disrupting. Being Human is no small miracle.

Through the conscious & unconscious motions/maneuverings of mind, body & spirit through the (known) planes of existence, Being Human Is an Occult Practice is a fair companion, a sort of map to provide a journey that is likely to change the individual who is ready, perhaps by a similar nourishing lifeforce which is seemingly impelled by scholarship of the self, poetry and the world(s) in which we human beings find (and create) meaning between one another.
 
 
 
From Ugly Duckling Presse:
 
"In the essay Being Human Is an Occult Practice, Zurawski argues that studying and sharing literature can function as a means of enriching the impoverished definition of “human” created by capitalist social relations. Beginning with an analysis of Robert Duncan’s description of the moment in his high school classroom when he finds himself called into a life in poetry, this essay explores the possibilities of the literature classroom at the very moment that it’s being dismantled by the neoliberalization of our university systems.

Zurawski argues that the literary holds a revitalizing potential precisely because of its capacity of exceeding the narrow imaginative aims of life within our contemporary social order."

 
 
 
To order your copies of BEING HUMAN IS AN OCCULT PRACTICE by Magdalena Zurawski, via Ugly Duckling Presse, click here.

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