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
Mountains and evening: aspen leaves,
Pale as moth wings,
Reclaiming the wood.
The car clove spring.
A flock of yellow petals, heads hung—
I wanted to stop,
But seeing you, said nothing.
You were not much in your face,
Your words, better remembering
Some breathtaken childhood
On this exalted road.
At the peaks, winds ground
Clouds to dust
In parching cold.
We rode through green flush below,
Windows pleasantly rolled down. Continue reading “Evening Drive”
And there’s a whole life in that, in knowing that the sun is there. ~Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov
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”
This post may seem out of step with this site’s “wilderness” or “environmental” character. But it’s a post urging more responsible behavior in the sphere of language, especially on the internet, where rhetorical global climate change seems to be raising the temperature of social media sites to the level of frog-boiling. To my mind, the quality of a language environment and the condition of the natural world connect intimately. Successful changes in environmental policy result from carefully designed language that takes into account past, present, and future well being. Conversely, poor behavior toward the physical world only succeeds through unsustainable reasoning and often bullying rhetoric–that is, it forces itself on its audience, because it can’t otherwise connect with them. So here we go.
The title of this post comes from the novel 2666 by Chilean writer Roberto Bolaño. The full quote is, “Metaphors are our way of losing ourselves in semblances or treading water in a sea of seeming.” It’s a complex metaphor that…well, kinda expresses something a lot of us do when, in conversation, we plunge into the fluid realm of metaphor–especially in our online conversations, where anonymity and the here/not-here nature of virtual presence make many of us bold.
But metaphors. Metaphors are great, right? And all-purpose. A clever metaphor can carry the battle in an argument, thus proving the supremacy of razor wit over club-tongued lunacy. The winner takes home the Truth Booty, cuz, you know, booty is truth, truth booty. Agreed?
I thought it might be nice to make this Got Flight Week on WIZ’s People Month. Posts this week will play with the question: Can humans fly? If you’ve had a flying dream or other liberating experience related to flying, please, feel free to post it in comments to this post or others published this week or submit your flight narrative to WIZ.
One of my hobbies is collecting words carrying the meaning of €œunderstanding € and whose root words are bound up in the metaphorical pairing of perceiving and grasping €”of aligning the focus of attention on something and the physical act of laying hold upon or seizing. The American Heritage Dictionary gives the following definition for €œunderstand €: To perceive or comprehend the nature and significance of; grasp. See synonyms at apprehend. € There follow three more definitions relying upon the words €œcomprehend € and €œgrasp. € At the heart of both €œapprehend € and €œcomprehend € lies the Latin root prehendere, €œto seize. €
Here is a partial list of other words and phrases conveying the concept of understanding that contain root words set in the act of grasping or seizing: Continue reading “Got flight?”