Metaphysics merely means ‘after’ in Latin, ergo it came after Aristotle’s writings on physics. It attempts to define the nature of all reality, tangible or intangible. It begs for us to describe the basic and sometimes indescribable human existence. The origin of Philosophy is to ponder our existence, Metaphysics strives to understand the human condition. Where Realism claims that “time and space have existence independent from the human mind” SOURCE, metaphysics weds the two, as it is a combination of the mind, body, and soul.
Simic’s approach to the metaphysical is steeped in the realism, however, he uses thoughts and feelings to define and convey his humanity, mind, and body this cultural lens makes his works unique.
Charles Simic was birthed into this world on May 9, 1938, in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, where he survived a horrendous adolescence amid World War II. In 1954, he emigrated from Yugoslavia with his mom and sibling to join his dad in Chicago, IL. He lived in and around Chicago until 1958. In 1961, he was drafted into the U.S. Armed force, and in 1966 he earned his college degree from New York University while working nights to take care of the expense. SOURCE
I choose Simic because I like poetry, it is a distillation of thought and emotion.
Simic is an exemplar of metaphysics as he mixes the complexity of existence (‘time and space’) with his humanity. His unique perspective originates from his experiences and tempers his lens both intrinsically and extrinsically. He has seen what war does to humanity and been left alone to ingrate those experiences into words that demonstrate its strange and brutal concept.
In his poem “All These Mirrors” he is conversing with himself in a mirror while shaving, the reflection is disagreeable and disgruntled, he is being self-depreciating about getting older. He is struggling to understand the image that is himself, but older. The second stanza of this poem draws in my humanity. He is alone, shaving in the mirror, he is noticing the lines in his forehead and waiting for an answer to a self-thought question he will never get the answer to. His attention to the mundane act of the ordinary where there is tissue paper on the ready when you cut yourself demonstrates his ability to move forward without the answer. As he is actualized about a future event and planning for it.
“The razor is at your throat.
The lines are inscribing themselves
On your forehead as you listen closely
With a poultice of tissue paper
Already reddening under your left eye.”
In another poem 'Hotel Insomnia' Simic writes as if in a dream, he again renders an acute minuscule attention of his thoughts to detail the ordinary. I can see the woman who lives above him, the two have an intimate relationship without having to know the other. If you have ever lived above or below someone you know things about them that are intimate. Where is the metaphysics in knowing someone’s routine? He understands that he exists as his neighbor goes to pee, it is this act that he uses to express his existence.
“At 5 A. M.
the sound of bare feet upstairs.
The 'Gypsy' fortuneteller,
Whose storefront is on the corner,
Going to pee after a night of love.”
The play on language in this somber poem portrays Simic’s eye for detail, as in the way the spider keeps going admits adversity “in heavy overcoat” and “cigarette smoke” handles everyday life. If someone is struggling with something it is often described as 'heavy” here the spider champions over adversity, yet another example of metaphysics.
“Mostly, though, it was quiet.
Each room with its spider in heavy overcoat
Catching his fly with a web
Of cigarette smoke and revery.”
In Simic’s 1996 poem, mirrors 4am, he makes himself relatable in the poem when again depicting a mirror and that he contemplates without an image or witness. He creates a relationship between an empty room and the mirror, these lines are private thoughts on an inanimate object, the mirror brought to life by the observer. I think that it is metaphysic personified when writes:
“Sneak a view of their emptiness
Without them catching
A glimpse of you in return.” Mirrors at 4 a.m. - 1996
He is commenting that if it is not seen, it does not exist. The crux of metaphysics is exactly this - a tangible object that may or may not have an existence without an observer or an observer’s thoughts.
I liked Charles Simic’s poems. It would be great to witness a conversation between and Simic and Kant. Kant would have liked Simic, Why? Simic portrayed the elements of both the Critique Of Pure Reason and the Transcendental Dialectic. He lives in the pocket of metaphysics and is comfortable with who he is and how he moves through the world.