Science has a problem: nobody understands it. Science was bewailing this problem back in the 80s when I worked at an archaeological dig. “How do we get people to care about what we do?” the archaeologists wondered. “Everything we need to say is important to humanity…but so technical.”
Poor science! Only attractive to other scientists.
Enter Peter Godfrey-Smith, scuba diver, professor in the School of History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Sydney, and author of several books exploring evolution and origins of the mind. His latest, Metazoa, tackles dense questions indeed: are animals sentient (he distinguishes between “sentient” and “conscious”)? If so, are all animals sentient, or only some? If they are sentient, is their sentience of a sort we can understand? If so, what can we learn from their sentience about the origins and nature of human consciousness?
An unproblematic state is a state without creative thought. Its other name is death.
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
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. Continue reading “The Wild Geese”
“Meant to use these, never got to it,”
she says. “Oh, well!” Four—no, five—she takes
them to the door, throws them through as far
as she can onto crusted snow. “Such waste.”
But I’m not fooled. I tell her, don’t feed wildlife.
They say the wild things lose their fending for
themselves. Or worse, become destructive. “Eh!”
she says. She waves me off. “Mebbe,” she says,
“something to that last one—true for bears—
true for people who are brutes like bears—
but they, those they, they say that same of all
impoverished souls—handouts ruin them. Any
those things at all, they happen only ’cause
you go Lawrentian on the creatures, exploit
their need and presence to glut your own thin nerves,
twanging for touch and bridling. Animals like
to do for themselves. Good times, they will. They don’t
come looking here. Too risky. Important thing?
Don’t ever ask for something in return.” Continue reading “For the Birds”
The weedy clouds of spring
Grow on the peaks, break off then drift
In tall gardens over sandstone blue
With the bruise of squalls. I stand
Two thousand feet above the coils
Of a river that has burnt its way,
Leaving behind the red stubble
Of canyons. Buds of lightning
Burst and wither at once;
The air is rutted with breezes;
Stones lie where they fell cracking
At the roots of cliffs. The land
Twists through bands of light,
Like a juniper through soils, at the sun,
And if my blood did not burn, like the river,
The clays of its country, I would see
The horizon ripple with growth.
Here I am only slightly longer-lived
Than the lightning; I may not last
The next stone’s throwing. Continue reading “Dead Horse Point by Patricia Karamesines”