Poetic Experience

Most activities of the human mind, since there are men and they do think, have been made the object of an attentive analysis as to their nature and their ends. Appropriate techniques are formed and systems raised in their shadow. Each of these activities is found exalted by the fact that we have endeavoured to extract the laws of its content and forces. It is odd that one of them, the most common, and in regard to which no one is exempt from the urge to say its name, has been set aside from all general observation: A philosophy for the sciences exists, yet none exists for poetry, noted Lautréamont in 1870. We are well aware that this remark still holds true.

Does this mean that poetry is only a gratuitous activity, which is superfluous to all others, without being able to aspire to their significance, and that its practice ought to be considered as an intellectual luxury from which man cannot expect the least contribution to the eternal problem of knowledge? Yet it seems that the very reality of poetry arises from certain dangerous questions, that we usually reserve for our faculties of reason, at the risk of admitting that they are not up to the task.

André Rolland de Renéville
from the preface to L’Éxperience Poétique