An unproblematic state is a state without creative thought. Its other name is death. –David Deutsch
I. Rough work, hanging out laundry in desert wind. I got caught up in it. Simple chore versus crazed local element, favored to win. I moved clothespins in strategic haste, clamping in place fresh-washed fabric dripping spring chill. Gusts slapped cloth at my face, wrapped it ’round my arms. I wanted it done. And so, I nearly missed them.
Before seeing, I heard. A voice of the air. One voice, two birds. Geese, a pair, seeking mown fields to settle down for the cold March night. One had just said something (that I’d heard) to the other. The other replied in wing beats of side-by-side flight.
Around them, evening fanned plumes of its own. Clouds and molted shadows glowed shades of lilac, the horizon’s notched vanes, pink tones found deep in layered petals of a summer tea rose. The familiar had turned exotic bird of passage. The whole beauty stopped me, arms uplifted— to hang my clothes.
Two birds, one flight, their winging, a single act done between them. In seconds, they crossed acres of purple dusk. But the moment filled to brim, quivered there. I admit, I thought of us.
Rerun alert: I wrote this post for the literary blog A Motley Vision back in February of 2006–nearly 14 years ago. My thinking about the role logic must play in poetry has not changed by much. In fact, in what people are calling our new “post-truth reality,” which is really just the good ol’ Might Makes Right mentality striving to elbow its way toward staging a comeback, I believe an intimate relationship between informal reasoning and creative endeavor even more critical. As unpopular as it may be by today’s social media standards, accepting accountability for one’s own thinking is healthy for the individual and healthy for society. But it’s especially healthy and invigorating when it comes to creating meaning, be it through word, visual art, or music.
Poets need logic for the same reason poets need some mastery of form. By crafting poetry within the discipline of poetic forms, poets gain proficiency in the full range of their art from arranging the barest stones of syntax to constructing soaring edifices of odes, sonnets, even free verse. Or we may compare the poet’s learning form to a singer’s practicing of musical scales, which the singer does so that among other things s/he may gain the accuracy and stamina enabling her/him to perform within the full range of her/his vocal gifts. The singer lives in musical constructs; the poet lives in linguistic constructs. Learning form is the responsibility of
At the bottom of these sustained bad acts that may imperil us all, or at least those who are “Not-Us”, lie age-old beliefs that Earth exists as a source of wealth and power for the worthy, that it’s a “thing” for our use. But underpinning those beliefs? An even older traditional story line traceable to early creatures’ adaptive behavior, aroused in response to the need to secure the evolutionary advantage. And nowadays, that old struggle almost always takes form in the language of instrumentality; that is, in language—including body language—applied strictly as a catch-and-hold tool.
A Motley Vision readers from way back may recognize some content in this post. The older version appeared as a 2-part piece in 2010, then titled, “So You Say You Want a Creavolution? Well, You Know…”. I’ve since added an introduction and more material about language and the possible tensions that may be at work when competing narratives go to war. This version is also the outcome of a Facebook discussion where I crowd sourced a thinking problem I ran up against in writing an introduction for a chapter of my WIP, Showdown at Crossfire Canyon: At the Interface Between Language and Landscape. The online discussion resulted in a breakthrough that enabled my reworking the chapter’s introduction and fine-tuning the post.