Drafty

I have to keep reminding myself that these poems are drafts and just get over their weakness and rough spots and recall that the drafting aspect is part of my April experiment–pushing the envelope, as the saying goes, and allowing the imperfections to go public. Then readers will perhaps recognize that every poem has to start somewhere, and it is not always from inspiration or native talent.

Any of the poems I draft this month that I consider worth keeping around for further work will move into my revision-worthy pile. For me, the revision process engages creativity in a form very different from the initial draft. Just as an example, few of my drafts use rhyme; sometimes I employ a basic metrical strategy (but not always)–and stanza structure almost always occurs during my revision process. Yet my finished poems often contain such components.

This one’s a less-plausible lyrical narrative, and I have no idea why I drafted it.

http://www.thisisnotacraft.com/

“Observatory Box,” Joseph Cornell

~

Experience of the Disembodied

What happened was a bounce
or peak in the field,
a shiver in the multiverse
tearing through cosmic shift

although maybe that is not
what happened because I was
not observing the rift,

I was entering into it with my
physical body per se

although I could not call the action
“flying” yet I did feel earth’s
gravity, that weakest of forces,
loosening until church spires
and pine trees, tall city buildings
shrank beneath me–

and my skin emptied,
a frosty altitude, a gutted sensation,
numbed spine and brain: Where am I?

In this supra-cosmos no light
of the sort my eyes can translate.
Energy vibrating. Loss of myself
while I watch myself,

fascinated, undone. Waiting
for the next shoe to drop.

~~

Re: National Poetry Month –here’s a thoughtful blog post on continuing the conversation through millennia.

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Ontologies and inquiries

{ ? }

 

This week, amidst the whirl of returning students, I have accidentally paired my reading of Douglas Hofstadter’s book I Am a Strange Loop with Jim Holt’s Why Does the World Exist?

How did all of this get started? In the most concrete and specific scenario, I had been slowly savoring Hofstadter–and, let’s face it, trying to “get” the math he occasionally employs–and happened across a copy of Holt’s book, which is a faster read, when I didn’t have Strange Loop to hand. Next thing I know, I’m deep into both texts which, naturally, overlap in several ways. Now, I find myself pondering the beginnings of abstract things like consciousness, which may not be abstract if you think along the lines of E. O. Wilson but which Hofstadter suggests exists as both a top-level abstract “thing” that pushes around its foundational, physical “things” such as synapses, neurons, molecules. And I think about Descartes and the mind-body problem and, oh, while I’m at it, the Big Bang theory and the “what was there before the big bang?” question.

Holt’s book turns to the metaphysical inquiry, “Why is there something instead of nothing?” It’s a question I asked myself when I was about 6 years old. Hofstadter deals mostly with the (perhaps metaphysical) concern: “What is consciousness?” That’s a question I asked a bit later in life, though certainly I asked it before I was in my twenties.

Both authors employ philosophy and math in the service of trying to make sense of these inquiries; and while Holt’s investigation is a bit more physical-cosmological in nature, it may not be necessarily so–lots of the theories floating around out there sound pretty metaphysical to me! Hofstadter employs many analogies, as is his wont (see, in particular, his 1979 book Gödel, Escher, Bach). Hofstadter also gets a bit more into neurology, of course–we are talking about consciousness, after all, and it may reside in our brains–and slightly into the arena of psychology. Holt takes a more journalistic approach, using interviews and readings to cite past and current thinking on the topic of existence. The subtitle of his book is “An Existential Detective Story.”

So far, I enjoy both books, though they differ in significant respects.

Meanwhile, at work I am mainly dealing with adjusting-to-updated-software issues and helping-students-with-advising questions and explaining drop-add and pass-fail and comp-rhet and the difference between Elementary Spanish I and II. Keeps my brain flexible and gets those neurons firing. {Right??}

I haven’t finished reading either book yet. I may have more to say about the synthesis of these two books after I’ve let my brain settle down.