Conspiracy Nation -- Vol. 7 Num. 11

("Quid coniuratio est?")


The Poems and Essays of David Martin
Reviewed by Brian Francis Redman

I think David Martin, a.k.a. "D.C. Dave" is on the right track. The November 1995 Conspiracy Nation Newsletter, "Tales of Dead Foster", alludes to the literary qualities of some conspiracy theories. Just when books are written saying that "literature is dead," along comes a whole new genre disproving the idea. And the ever-expanding "Tales of Dead Foster" are, I think, a sub-genre among the "growth industry of the '90s," conspiracy theories.

When I first began covering the various conspiratologist theses, I had to, early on, confront the worry: "What if none of this is true?" What I realized then was that, hey, even if it's all bullsh**, at least they're great stories. (However, I should emphasize that I happen to consider much of the literature to be fact.)

Conspiracy theories are where fact meets fiction: some are fact, some are fiction, and some are a little of both. But the thing about them is their current fertility. Just at the time academic literati are sighing in their ivory towers about the hopelessness of it all, the American genius for invention makes the fake ennui of the professoriate and their sycophants, finally, meaningless. I think these elegant, bored poseurs of the academy will wake up in the next decade and "discover" that quite a lot was going on right under their noses in the "dead" '90s.

Dave Martin has carried the above to its next logical step: he has branched out into poetry. His is the first "conspiracy poetry" I have seen. Let's hope there is more of it. (While we're at it, why not a "conspiracy theater"? Someone may someday put together a play called "Dead Foster", or whatever. It could start with a park, a man walking through it, and light filtering through the leaves. The man could then stand at the bottom of a 45-degree berm, shoot himself with a 1913 Colt revolver, lie down perfectly straight, place his arms straight out by his sides, and then die.)

Martin is, among other things, a "poet of Dead Foster"; Foster's death has, as it were, caused him to burst forth in song. But these are not joyous songs but rather songs of grief and anger. The poet is unrelenting as he hammers on his theme:

           By law,
           Our top of the line law enforcement agency
           Should have got the designation.
           So how
           Did the woefully inadequate Park Police
           Come to do the investigation?

And that is exactly where Martin falls down: too often, his poems are just mathematical formulae that rhyme; statistical essays with good rhythm. Art, in this reviewer's opinion, is not the language of facts and logic; it is the language of the emotions, something subtle that lives only so long as it transcends definition. The Russian philosopher P.D. Ouspensky says this very thing in his great work, Tertium Organum:

The content of emotional experiences can never be wholly fitted into concepts or ideas and, therefore, can never be correctly and exactly expressed in words. The interpretation of emotional experiences and emotional understanding is the aim of art. Thus, in art we find the first experiments in a language of the future.

All art consists in understanding and representing these elusive differences. Art sees more and further than we do. Art is already a beginning of vision. It sees much more than the most perfect apparatus.

At the same time we know that not everything can be expressed in words. Therefore, not everything can be logical to us; a great many things are essentially outside logic. Feelings, emotions, and religion are outside of the domain of logic. All art is a complete illogicality.

Ouspensky goes on to add that art, besides being a language of the emotions, also embraces intuition. He sees it as a superior way of seeing.

Ouspensky's Tertium Organum deals heavily with the so-called "fourth dimension." Art is the language of the fourth dimension: when it lives in the fourth dimension, it is art; when it either does not reach that dimension or is analyzed down from there by inwardly dead yet gleaming literati bent on three- dimensionalizing the creation -- then it is not art but "something else". Being myself what I call a "de-frocked grad student" -- having once studied literature -- I am familiar with how academics normally preoccupy themselves with performing dissections of still-breathing masterpieces. Bent on pigeonholing the works of genius, they too often cannot see the forest for the trees and wind up killing the very thing they ostensibly try to understand. Art belongs to the fourth dimension. When you analyze it to death, you kill it -- but perhaps that's just what the inwardly dead yet gleaming literati secretly want.

"D.C. Dave" however is not so hopeless as that. In this, his first book of what it is hoped are more to come, he is taking his first steps away from sledgehammer logic and toward what cannot be fully told on this plane -- the Truth. At times, he succeeds in The New Moral Order. He is at his best when he is able to escape his too-dominant brain and open up a bit, letting his heart speak:

Killdeers swooping over stone-strewn hills, Embankments embellished with daffodils, Show horses grazing in meadows serene, And sycamores clustered in every ravine, This is old Virginia.

Passages like the above give hope that Dave will grow towards his true voice.

Other plusses about Martin's first book are that his poems rhyme and you can understand them. Martin writes for the People and not just to please the snobs. Martin is not, thank God, part of that incestuous clique. That, his populist sympathies, gives hope that he will grow over the years into one of our great American voices.

(The New Moral Order by David Martin. DCD Publishers, PO Box 222381, Chantilly, VA 22022-2381. $11.95. Please add $3.00 per copy for mail orders.)

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Aperi os tuum muto, et causis omnium filiorum qui pertranseunt. Aperi os tuum, decerne quod justum est, et judica inopem et pauperem. -- Liber Proverbiorum XXXI: 8-9