WIZ 1500 Review: Molecular Storms, Octopuses’ Gardens, and the Meeting of Mind

 

by Patricia Karamesines

Metazoa
Animal Life and the Birth of the Mind

by Peter Godfrey-Smith



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?

Continue reading “WIZ 1500 Review: Molecular Storms, Octopuses’ Gardens, and the Meeting of Mind”

Dead Horse Point by Patricia Karamesines

2020 Jan. photo 800px-Dead_Horse_Point_State_Park03
Dead Horse Point–photo by Nikater, released into public domain

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”

Why poets need logic

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.

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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

anyone who accepts the poet’s calling just as learning basic musical technique is the responsibility of any musician aspiring to competence. Continue reading “Why poets need logic”

Evidence of Flight

by Patricia Karamesines
for Brad K.

And there’s a whole life in that, in knowing that the sun is there.
~Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov

Dragonfly by Pearson Scott Foresman public domain

Chancy, is flight, an omen’s
flutter in the unsettled air
from angles where we least
expect a challenge. Invention,
they say, of primordial insects
aspiring to high haven above
raking tooth and claw. Accident,
is flight, of last-chance leaps
to crest battlements of gravity’s
grubbing keep. That such least
creatures found loopholes in
law pillorying them to their
places in a food chain. Then
in their thoraxes, more frangible
than flesh, composed arias
of survival, buzzing themselves
loose. The miracle, is flight,
when four hundred million years
ago, some humble bug got itself
wings, and with wings, ascension.
Hard thing it may be to admit,
the humankind taking credit
for all triumphs over nature,
but, with flight, some strain
of early dragon-just-turned-fly
choreographed the first steps of
the dance away, escape velocity. Continue reading “Evidence of Flight”