Real abstractions and flightless birds

It’s been a busy week and I am trying my best to be consistent about my self imposed goal of a poem a day. It keeps me tethered to the writing and I hope, helps me improve it too. I am compelled to post this second one today as it has been a productive weekend 🙂

Today’s poem is simply about communication, a tribute to the extinct Dodo and other such birds. The poem explores the prison house of language and is mostly a call to the urgent need for factual yet compassionate communication in science. It was a discussion on Wittgenstein’s ideas that piqued my interest in this and the Dodo inveigled it’s way into the poetic mix. It’s sad that some of the very animals and birds we so depend on, we tend to treat with contempt using language as a crutch. Dead as a Dodo, stupid as a donkey, silly goose etc, you get my drift.

On a separate note my library finally received the copy I ordered of ‘philosophical investigations’ by Ludwig Wittgenstein and I have managed to get through the foreword. I daresay, his ideas on language intrigue me, the ones in his latter work. The foreword was an excruciatingly laborious read so I am wondering about the rest of the translation. I am actually hoping I’ll be able to make sense of his ideas easily.

Here’s my reading list for the month and after, except the Zibaldone at the bottom of the pile. That’s my personal copy and I leaf through it sometimes when I want to enmesh myself in the thoughts of someone on an analytical hyperdrive, the same as me 😃

I can be a perfectionist sometimes (much to my detriment) so I cannot write about something until I have actually read it or done the activity, so to speak. Writing about anything for me is a very intense exercise therefore it’s easier to write about things I have done in the past as I have already been through them at least once. Poetry/art are the one place for a creative and imaginative flourishing. Nothing saves the soul like art. Bless my muses, they make me come alive !!!

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At my college library once, eons ago, I had the sweet fortune of having picked up a hundred year old copy of Darwin’s ‘On the origin of species’. I was also the only one to have ever checked that book out and the pages were as brittle as a sand dollar. I didn’t quite manage to read it in its entirety but it was a treat to explore. I hope he will bear with a spectral grin this poetic assault 😃

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Analyse this Darwin /

The rules of your game and 3.4 ounces of downy goose in an 800 fill power / baffled sentience / purely abet man’s survival in the snow so his tears are like snowflakes / while he stares drily in contempt at the defrocked bird / that knows better than to fly up a raging volcano that could mean a roast of tender sacrifice //

Your epistles of Science also eulogized the Dodo in shining sarcasms / the poor bird went the ‘way of the Dodo’ and is now quite ‘dead as a Dodo‘ / even while those sailors ate of her alongside their sneering and jeering, despite their sudden gain of wealth in protein /

I wonder if one spits an intellectual aside at food on the table / skewering fun through an interrupted evolution / A matter of perspective, yes …… //

Cultural capital I think / like a masked banditry of language, proselytizing the masses / if only they knew not to roll in the deep of intellectual deception / science could have hoisted up its own flagpole of insouciant creed /

But then …… how does one know what is real and some birds are flightless / but that, for the living goose / means being packed in pillows as it’s own ‘goose is cooked’ / The silly goose cannot fly and it’s so sadly wrong yet so somehow right too //

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On my playlist today, ‘flightless bird‘ by Iron and Wine ~ a sore analogy to extinction and I think the Dodo did this exercise best, irretrievably extinct. Superb poetry by Samuel Ervin Beam. I heard this song eons ago on the soundtrack of the first of the ‘Twilight’ series and it has found a place in my favourites ever since.

I might post a few random haikus or quatrains the next couple of days as the weekend is super busy starting now, longer poems for next week.

Plasmodesma of dreams …

‘Cogito ergo sum’ and this has a strange way of transmuting into a plummet down a rabbit hole of analysis paralysis. It’s actually gardening that grounds me each time my mind goes into overdrive. I have a sign I created for my garden in Kenya that says ‘I garden therefore I am’ 😃 No matter what it is that triggers a debilitating self narrative within oneself, it has always been the soil for me. I bury my fingers in mud and feel earthed. We each have our own way of battling with storms no matter the phantasms we invoke or worship in our minds. Warning: dissecting Descartes in overdrive ahead ……

Now imagine if the brain-in-a-vat scenario were true, that we are nothing but a disembodied brain living in a vat of nutrients. How is one to tell the difference between reality and a dream like state?  In fact, how is one to tell the difference even if it were not the case? It’s hard to imagine Descartes evil demon of supreme power who cunningly employs his powers for deception by altering the laws of mathematics and logic to present an illusory world. For those that are visually inclined, Christopher Nolan’s ‘ Inception’ would be a great example, where the distinction between dreams blurs, experiences in dreams are created with objects from a prior life and the infiltrators of a dream know that they are dreaming, unlike Descartes, they are able to ‘think’ and thus know while dreaming, that they aren’t awake.

I am picking up on the thread of Cartesian thought from his dream argument, trying less to render it legible through poetry than to illustrate it. Does thinking make you realize wakefulness ? But Leo Di’Caprio is thoughtfully aware even in his dream, to his state of sleep. Have you ever been in a falling dream and woken up having experienced the fall but it’s not quite that … you still have questions, even rhetorical, if you are philosophically inclined.

Dreams, if they aren’t nightmares, can make for pleasant experiences and sometimes for humorous ones … although, for the life of me I have never woken up from a dream laughing ~ food for thought.

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It may have been the votives on the table, the tea lights weren’t blinking / were they lit or were they new / the senses were a jumble like the garbled intellect of Professor Calculus floating in a sarcophagus on an ocean / Why was I remembering Tintin / It wasn’t his dream, it was mine so this is a false memory perhaps / like happiness in sleep /

Is this when the dream gets tannic like a tea kept too long on the counter / to be snapped out of, like Alice from the clutches of an invisible cat and a visible charm / in a free fall plummeting to the rocks below / amid visions of people whose philosophy she thinks she knows but cannot read ……and some that didn’t know me or possibly did /

They were dressed like birds / while you feel naked, you know those acrid dreams when you are in your birthday suit / and everyone you know is at your birthday / smiling at the emperor’s clothes of sudden shame / a vivid montage in a slide viewer unfurling seasons / without colour, unless you conjure a yellowing green in words or aphorisms / that vomits a strange music in cuneiform lyrics, disrespectfully rude in their sharp lines and arrows / as my tongue rolls around in my mouth, a hormonal aftertaste /

Was this a shared dream / the plasmodesmata logging a sequential transfer / bits and bytes of code through cellular minds creating a narrative of pixels / magnified like …… no, those weren’t rocks / It was a trough and I was careening along bridges undulating like a whip across oceans / Could this be real / the adrenalin rush of the roller coaster at Universal Studios / but mine was a feat of engineering /

Such crests rising over oceans disappearing in an atmospheric haze / to fall into an abyss of awakening / in a soft bed …… but I remembered I fell / Here, under the goose down of a plump duvet, time simply draws to a crawl and everything is really real / or so I think ……

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The brain-in-a-vat scenario and the dream argument are best illustrated in the Spanish movie ‘Abre los ojos’ by Alejandro Amenabar starring Penelope Cruz and Eduardo Noriega. (An English version of the same with Tom Cruise in the lead was produced later as ‘Vanilla Sky’). Having watched both movies, the original more recently than the newest, I found the premise of immortality in them quite interesting, except that it comes at a cost of losing ones sanity while in a dream. The protagonist of the film finds himself dreaming and thinking it real, but harbouring real life regrets. Unlike in Descartes dream argument, the sophistication of dreams in these films is such that the dream scenario is coherent, in fact, in the remake of the film, prior experiences and objects are used to construct the dream sequence.

Dreams make for interesting movies for sure, great illustrations for philosophy, the dream itself lends nuance to poetry perhaps, until we know the difference between the real of wakefulness from a dream …… I have yet to get to the modern theories on precognitive dreams that may help to shed light on Cartesian thought and other such mind body problems, more on that later.

I hope you enjoyed the poem dear reader. A heady start to the day, hardly simple but dreams are complicated. Reality feels like a dream sometimes when we are unable to comprehend and then configure a coherent narrative of memories or live fully immersed in the present and plan effectively for the future. Is this what our stressors are I wonder, would the limiting of thinking variables help. A poem should always help indicate a kernel of solution. Plainly rhetorical.