David Musgrave lectures in Creative Writing at the University of Newcastle. He is a noted publisher, poet and novelist.

Poetry as Speculative Science

The origins of the Gaia hypothesis in poetry and myth

In the post-enlightenment era, the division between poetry and ‘truth’ has largely been framed in terms of scientistic versions of truth. In the modern era, this has manifested itself in a number of ways: in the adoption of ‘experimental’ as a metaphorical term for innovative poetic practices, and in the positivist framework for the notion of ‘progression’ in the arts generally. In this paper I seek to establish a frame for speculative poetry that is invested in myth conceived of as a resource of language. Following Ronald Hutton’s The Triumph of the Moon, I trace the development of James Lovelock’s ‘Gaia hypothesis’ as having its roots in eighteenth century mythopoeic practice, and also the foundations of scientism in the myth of atomism. I argue more broadly for the importance of poetry as a form of speculation predicated on myth, and that this aspect of poetry can be of vital importance in facing large-scale challenges such as global warming.

Keywords: myth; poetry; atomism; Mary Midgley; Northrop Frye; Ronald Hutton; Gaia; James Lovelock; Claude Lévi-Strauss; Jean-Luc Nancy; Lucretius; Earth Goddess; Jindyworobak

Poetry as Knowing

Philip Salom’s Keepers Trilogy

Following from Karl Popper's notion of 'subjectless' knowledge, this article
argues that poetry, like the other arts and sciences can be construed as a
distinct 'world'. This world is constituted by internal relations both in a
structural and an intertextual sense. Utilising Yury Lotman's
formalist-structuralist approach, the difference between an internal
relation and an external relation is made clear through a close reading of
John Kinsella's 'The Silo', where the antipastoral elements are shown to be
in an external relation to it, whereas the gothic mode is in an internal
relation. A close reading of Philip Salom's Keepers trilogy further explores
the kind of knowledge possessed by poetry.