Jejune

only for a moment, as it happens
now I believed
a frame wishes to hold
    these intentions
I thought something small
might being apparently simple
showed itself complicated
when I knew better
I discovered the shape
thwarting singular truth
arched between points

I wish I could leave it
there in hope you are
just imagining it

nothing would make me more
happy knowing you might be

Collect Me If I’m Rong

You hear enough of my thoughts and opinions. It’s a rare treat when I get to hear yours. I think most people keep their thoughts and opinions to themselves. I choose to think this because the alternative is, that every person walking around is a hollow zombie of null thought. Well, I suppose there is another possibility. Maybe they are polite, and keep their ideas and opinions to themselves out of respect for other people.

But I don’t believe it. Silence is self-interested: doubt in oneself, and not wanting to be exposed. Or, maybe just walk around, not caring, unaffected, until something unavoidable or inescapable happens. Actually, the second is the most self-interested of all.

But I did hear from three people about the last piece I wrote called Price Check on Isle “P”. Actually four people. One person asked why I hadn’t considered the Green Party’s Cynthia McKinney‘s candidacy for President. I have no good reason — and I’ll get into that later. The other three people told me that “Isle” was spelled “Aisle”.

Now, that’s an interesting thing to tell someone who writes poetry. My response to each was that an “aisle” wasn’t nearly as self-contained and isolated as it needed to be. My previous post, which wasn’t mailed out, was actually a poem called Pretend which happened to have “aisles”, and no “isles”. Those were narrow things, in supermarkets.¬† But Price Check on Isle “P” wasn’t a poem. And since it wasn’t a poem, I must have made a mistake, placing a big body of land surrounded by an ocean into the middle of a store. Well, I won’t concede. Because it was a big store – a huge store. So big, in fact, that it didn’t even need entrances or exits, because the curvature of the earth would just bring you back to your starting point before you managed to walk far enough.

Now, I know you scientists. You’re thinking, that’s just silly. Why not just say it’s a store that’s as big as the world? And that’s just nonsense, because we don’t have enough resources to build something like that. Imagine the lighting bill! Unfortunately, I can’t kidnap people, blindfold them, take them across bridges, and then set them loose. Hell, I can’t even build bridges. They’re already there. I can only jump up and down, yelling and pointing, wearing pinwheels and elephant ears. It’s a good job.

Not too unlike, except for being a little bit opposite, Plato and his republic. Plato believed poets should be banished because they promoted sloppy and dangerous unreason. Now, “unreason” is actually a word. That is, it is a proper word, blessed and sanctified by whatever committee blesses and sanctifies such things. It was the proper word to use there, to portray what I meant. But it would have been the proper word, even if it wasn’t a proper word. And I would have used it. And that’s some tension.

Philosophy and poetry make uneasy bedfellows, unless they’re rolling around in that bed in your head together. Philosophy wants to be clear, rigorous and inescapable. This requires words with little ambiguity. Poetry, on the other hand, has different ideas about what clarity is, and you can come and go as you please. And as for being rigorous, well, it depends on the mood.

But, uneasy or not, Poetry and Philosophy are bedfellows. Both are concerned with the most basic essence of the subjects they deal with, not just appearances or the presently accepted “how the way things are”. In the terms of Philosophy, Philosophy is concerned with more than just the epistemological and ontological. And from Poetry, I have yet to embrace all that might be seen.

It is very narrow and short sighted to believe that Philosophy is all about logic and reasoning, while poetry is all about feeling. Poetry can, and often does, delve into the heart of matters that lies beyond both emotion and reason. And the philosopher might ask, what can possibly exist that is beyond both emotion and reason? And that philosopher might find themselves smack in the headspace of a poet, while still being a philosopher. Which, of course, through logic, epistemology, ontology and a good splattering of aesthetics, might be just a chemical sea within our gray matter — devoid of the skepticism required by the limitations of our human sense, that seeks to know itself, through limited means. And then, well, we’re mostly just back to poetry.

And no, you scientists don’t know any better. Science is the epitome of hubris. Science believes that epistemological continuity is enough to reveal an ontology when they can make empiricism fit nice and snug. Unfortunately, they just can’t see, even if by some crazy chance they happen to be right, that it just loops right back into Philosophy, landing with a thud into metaphysics. It amazes me how many scientists fancy themselves philosophers just because they run around with calculators and rulers, and can go, “see! see!”. Their domain within philosophy is narrow indeed, but it is formidable. And of course, it can be spectacularly helpful.

It’s like this: philosophers can talk about love in great depth, just like poets (if they can get past the embarrassment of being associated with a clich√©). Scientists can poke at pleasure centers in the brain, and fiddle with areas of memory that might contain people we know. Or other scientists, who some scientists consider only pseudo-scientists, whatever that is, might say that you feel love for a particular person because your father was always away from home working, and that person scratches their ass just like your father did.

Or, some people might spell tomato “tomatoe”. Either way, it’s a big yummy juicy red thing. Does it matter? Well, were you supposed to imagine walking around with squishy red phalanges in your sneakers? If you’re not, then it’s up you whether the tomatoe guy is an idiot. You’ve got the tomato in your head either way. And it’s hard to tell, if you correct their spelling, will they accept it, happily corrected, and be smarter? Or will they turn into an even null-er headed zombie, even less likely speak?

Most people wouldn’t bother considering that question. They’re too happy being more clever, even in silence. At least clever in spelling. But it’s a good question to consider: how do you help someone expand into something more, without making them feel like an idiot, or get all defensive and shut everything down? Well, philosophers usually just let the scientists have their delusions of grandeur, knowing that the grandeur to which they aspire will engulf them soon enough. However, scientists have an edge. They are motivated to learn more. That’s not a widely shared human characteristic.

Yet strangely, even despite ourselves, we all do learn more, and in wildly different ways. Maybe this has something to do with those zingy pleasure centers of the brain. It feels good, even learning, when it’s something we like. The hopeful bit for me is that all of us have been surprised, at one time or another, just how pleasurable something was, that we never imagined might be. And in that spirit, maybe hope yet exists for people, who might find a way to arise from the self-interested zombie null head that presently plagues us.

We are dominated by the literal and the empirical right now. And I just told you a lie.

We believe in the literal and empirical right now. The trouble is, the literal and the empirical are not standing on solid footing. If you start asking the questions, you find the answers quickly – and those answers are, there are always more questions. And after a while, you might stop asking why this or that things is blah blah blah, and you start asking, why am I believing this? Why am I doing this? Is this really who I am? Is this who I want to be? Skepticism is a step. But I’m talking deep, personal and all-encompassing skepticism. A friggin baptism in the reexamination of everything.

And suddenly, you find out that you’re not an economist after all. Or that politics is a spider web. And it’s okay for politics to be a spider web, even when it’s literally not — but that it’s NOT okay that politics is a spider web. And Santa doesn’t like to shop. And energy is abundant. And when everything just dissolves like that, and you manage to avoid medication, maybe you might find, if you need it, that being a philosopher or a poet is something that is still okay. And in all honesty, they’re not really uneasy bedfellows. They just seem that way, when you haven’t crawled into the covers yourself. But it’s true they are very marginalized in our society. And considering our society, that is not surprising.

OK. So now I have a dirty little secret to tell, after all this. It turns out that I did not, in fact, purposefully use “Isle” instead of “Aisle”. It happened on its own. It’s also the better choice, that wasn’t a choice. Which is also the greatest thing about love, squishy, sweet and cleansing as tomatoes. And really, all kinds of other nifty little doo-dads, buried right under our noses.

Now go work your calculators on that.

Price Check on Isle “P”

My dad, now a senior citizen, likes watching the military channel. Yet strangely, his political views are usually far more liberal. I think he likes the planes, having worked at Boeing for over 40 years.

A few nights ago a documentary depicted the bombing flights of the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. One of pilots, now very near his own death, was asked if he felt any regret after having killed so many people. We’re talking hundreds of thousands of people this man killed. Did he have any regrets, or pangs of conscience? Not in the least, he replied, emphatically.

It is a case, yet again, of a person just “doing their job”. It’s difficult understanding how people can so easily turn off their own sense of right and wrong — how they can excuse themselves from any personal, moral responsibility for their actions, simply by saying, “I was just doing my job”.

Well, it doesn’t work like that; not morally, not ethically and not even psychologically. But I’m not writing an ethics primer.

For the past few weeks I’ve tried setting aside my concern for our country’s political status, hoping and even trusting somewhat, that those who desire power have learned some good and important lessons about the basic worth of their fellow human beings. I have trusted that, over the last several months, enough vivid detail has come to light that those who desire and hold power might, at last, understand and accept the awesome responsibility that accompanies such power. But this is not the case.

It is ironic that all the Presidential campaigns are speaking toward change while, at the same time, all indications demonstrate that the only change happening is change toward even further and more intensified totalitarianism. We have deception on a massive scale that I do not believe is planned and controlled by those who are deceiving. In many ways, the deception seems rather akin to advertising and marketing forces that play out in a postmodern society. In other words, they even fool themselves.

By this I mean, things do not need to be true. They need to be sold. The best salesmen believe what they are selling. And the best way to sell something is to convince people they are being satisfied. And the surest way to convince people they are satisfied is to provide the very definition for them of what is truly important.

There are gaping holes between the issues currently on the table for discussion amongst Presidential candidates and their supporters. Most of the truly fundamental and important issues are hidden by a glaring focus upon minor differences in perspectives between the two main parties. The truly important questions that will effect our lives in the most significant ways are completely mute.

Some examples, for our candidates’ consideration, off the top of my head:

  1. The last administration has seen sweeping expansions in Presidential and Executive Branch powers. How will your Presidential administration address this? What, specifically, do you see within the Executive branch that needs changing?
  2. You both support ongoing war, in one form or another. How do you propose to fund this, and what are the long-term effects of your funding choices?
  3. Oil companies have gained enormous profits, even while oil supplies are up. Do you still believe oil companies should enjoy the unique and enormous tax breaks they receive?
  4. How do you propose to get energy companies focusing on the development and deployment of intelligent, effective and clean energy alternatives to oil, before oil scarcity actually happens, when oil companies stand to make their highest profits yet?
  5. What is your position on government secrecy and the classification of documents, including the claim of “Executive Privilege”?
  6. What is your position regarding corporations that have their own military forces? Are such corporations subject to Posse Comitatus, in your opinion?
  7. What is your position on American citizens being imprisoned without charge?
  8. Do you feel it is legal when police or military personnel seize the tape recorders and video equipment of journalists documenting events?
  9. Do you feel it is legal to seize or make copies of American citizen’s computers or papers? Even without probable cause?
  10. Considering the enormous money contributed by corporations to both the branding and support of the political process, how do you propose to separate corporate interests from the interests of people? Can you explain the difference between corporate interest and an individual person’s interest?

Holy cripes, that took no time at all, and I’ve just stopped at 10 because I have a doctor’s appointment coming up, and have a little more to say. But clearly, we have some important issues that will never see the light. Our attention has been focused elsewhere. And apparently, it is that elsewhere that will truly satisfy us.

Even within their rhetoric, both candidates have floundered on their more substantial promises and commitments, even before reaching the White House. Both now pander and weasel to shine their marketability. That is not change — change in the way Americans expected. They have simply demonstrated that this election, between the two parties, is little more than business as usual.

And if you doubt this, look into police and intelligence actions that have and continue to occur, related to the party Presidential conventions. I imagine little was shown on any major media outlets, but you will find plenty of information online. Look, in particular, for things like, “preemptive raids”, even on journalists. The parties are determined to control their image in the finest detail, and both are willing to go to great lengths to do so. Particularly, the Republicans. This is change, and change that is by far, much worse.

The military perspective is interesting, too. For example, there is a group called Iraq Veterans Against the War, who led protests at both conventions. They wished to deliver a letter to the convention floors, in the words of Iraq Vetrans. At the Democratic Convention, when confronted by the throngs of police in riot gear, an Obama spokesman eventually came out to meet them, and they were later invited to deliver a reading of their letter to the floor. However, at the Republican convention, nobody from the McCain team would even speak with them.

It will be interesting watching the whole “McCain is a war hero” spiel play out during the upcoming months. He completely ignores what the vets have to say, while Obama invites them in to speak to everyone. And McCain voted against almost every veteran benefit that came to the floor in the Senate, while Obama voted to give troops more. McCain didn’t even want them to have better health benefits. Maybe McCain’s idea of supporting our troops means, that he believes they should be fighting.

Anyway, it’s broken. Our government no longer functions for us. Still, the only people who were running, who are making sense, are Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich. Our two main candidates have now drifted into the netherworld of images and sounds that exists far from reality. It was wonderful watching Dennis’ speech at the convention, even though the cameras revealed a stadium of mostly empty chairs. It was fiery. And right on. I suppose the Democrats just don’t want to hear about the tough issues. They’re too busy rubbing the grease and polish onto Obama.

Which basically leaves me, at least, with Ralph Nader. And that choice that says, if I vote for Ralph, then I’m making it all the easier for McCain to become President. It is a tough choice for me. I like Ralph. The man is extraordinarily smart and honest, perhaps to a flaw. I would love to see someone like him as President, but I question his efficacy, since he is not a member of either ruling party. And also, I know he will not win.

But is it “my job” to see that McCain doesn’t win, and the only way to achieve this is to vote for Obama? Can I put aside my own better judgment and ethics? Do I play their game? Or do I just vote for the candidate I believe would make the better President, despite contingent ramifications?

Thankfully I have some time. I will listen to their mostly vacuous and repetitious words, trying to find some glimmer of substance that might ease my choice. I am not optimistic. We need change. Yet I see none possible, right now. And as both talk about the all the wonderful things they will do for Americans, both continue eroding our liberties and freedoms. And both are liars, or, if I want to be generous, prone to re-evaluate their positions after the fact.

The greatest thing about Ralph is something that he’s said himself: more than anything, his campaign is about fighting to break the stranglehold of our two-party system. In some ways, I might even consider voting for him so that McCain can be elected, so that we can fall further into decline as a nation, and perhaps, find the fortitude within ourselves to break that stranglehold ourselves the next time around, when things are the darkest, and we have little choice but to demand change.

We’ve already slid a long ways down the slope. And I wonder too, if by that time, it not might be too late.