Eratosphere Forums - Metrical Poetry, Free Verse, Fiction, Art, Critique, Discussions Able Muse - a review of poetry, prose and art

Forum Left Top

Notices

Reply
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #21  
Unread 01-11-2019, 08:13 PM
Martin Elster Martin Elster is online now
Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Connecticut, USA
Posts: 5,713
Default

Nemo - I was talking purely about scientific discoveries, not culture (or cultural history). Maybe if someone from now were transported back to ancient Egypt, they might faint as well. So I’ll extend the thought experiment to taking someone from the stone age and bringing them here.

But that’s not all I was trying to imply. The stories and mythologies of people thousands of years ago to explain the natural world (universe) are beautiful and wonderful stories, but how plausible are they? Fiction can be compelling and interesting, but (as the saying goes) truth is stranger than fiction. Mark’s poem is talking about the amazing things we now know as either true or plausible and comparing it to thousands of years old tales (that are not plausible). I think that the juxtaposition of those two kinds of understandings and beliefs are, for the poem, too facile or easy. That’s all I was trying (not very well) to say.

The innovations of all periods of history were new when they were first innovated! But to compare modern scientific understanding (first half of poem) to mythology (second half) doesn’t engage me (however imaginative and fantastic those stories are; they were not at all devoid of imagination!). (I could change my mind, as sometimes happens.) Did the people who invented those stories (alluded to in the second half of the poem) have a telescope or a microscope. They could not test many of their theories and assumptions (as we cannot do with certain theories either, because we don’t have a particle collider as large as the Galaxy, for instance). They didn’t know the earth orbits the sun. They didn’t know how the sun shines. They didn’t know that it is just one star among jillions. They didn’t know that there are jillions of galaxies moving away from one another. They didn’t know anything about supernovae, fossils, microbes or molecules or atoms or gravity or quantum physics or black holes or neutron stars or countless other things that we now know about. They didn't know about star stuff!

I’m not suggesting that ancient people were not smart. On the contrary, our brains are no different. But we simply know things about the natural world that were once mysteries. That’s all. We don’t know what consciousness is. We don’t know why the universe is expanding. There are many things we don’t know. But we know more than people did 5 thousand years ago, right? And if someone from that time period were brought here, we would be gods to them. A smart phone would be magic! A radio, TV, electric lights ... The car that my dog (and every human) takes for granted would be no different from magic.

Anyway, Nemo, you got me thinking more, which is always a good thing!

Mark - your poem got me thinking also, obviously!

Last edited by Martin Elster; 01-11-2019 at 09:27 PM.
Reply With Quote
  #22  
Unread 01-11-2019, 10:42 PM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2017
Location: TX
Posts: 3,585
Default

Clarke's Third Law: Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
Arthur C. Clarke

John
Reply With Quote
  #23  
Unread 01-16-2019, 11:05 AM
Mary Meriam's Avatar
Mary Meriam Mary Meriam is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: usa
Posts: 7,176
Default

I don't think you need this line: we deserve no more or less.
I like the initial caps a lot.
This poem has such a sonnet feel to it.
But there's also the repetition, like a repetend, of "kill us now" which is so different each time it's used.
The last three lines are like the final couplet.
Reply With Quote
  #24  
Unread 01-18-2019, 06:34 PM
Mark McDonnell Mark McDonnell is offline
Moderator
 
Join Date: May 2016
Location: England
Posts: 2,542
Default

Hi!

Oh, that's a lot of posts to respond to.

Erik - that's absolutely fine!

Hi Jim - thanks for a great comment.

Quote:
To dare utter an ultimatum like "just kill me now" says you think it's a pretty safe bet no one is listening.
That's nicely astute. Thanks.

Martin - Thanks. The poem paints in fairly broad strokes. It's the cry of an averagely informed and exasperated N, so I want the religious iconography in there to be the most archetypal stuff, rather than delving into less well-known myths.

Quote:
Would any rational person living now think the tall tales of the Old and New Testaments describe reality?
Well yes, I think plenty see much more than allegory and symbol in there. Which is fine, except some of those people are in positions of great power.

Nemo and Martin - Hmm. I'm really not trying to set up a 'modern science vs ancient wisdom' argument in the poem, where science wins. I think that's a false dichotomy, anyway. Science is just a process. Black holes, evolution, quantum physics: that's not 'science', that's just stuff that seems to be really out there (if we can agree on what 'really' means) and that the scientific method has allowed us find out about. I see no opposition between science as a project and 'soul' or ' visionary experience' or however one wants to phrase it. There is a Romantic tradition of anti-science, where science is reductionist and 'all charms fly / At the mere touch of cold philosophy' and we must 'Pray God us keep / From Single vision & Newton's sleep!" As much as I love Keats and Blake, especially Blake, I'm more than happy to look up at the stars in wonder and yet also have the knowledge of all that cosmology has revealed to us. Definitely doesn't spoil it for me. Certainty and dogma I'm less keen on. Neither were Keats or Blake. Good scientists and good poets are always searching and are rarely certain. The religious mind, it seems to me, more often is. Hmm. I realise with embarrassment how certain I sound. I'm not sure this addresses any of your points or is a useful contribution to the argument ha. I do like the idea of separating the numinous and transcendent from the supernatural and superstitious. I suppose I see the poem as less about science than it is about one of the mysteries that science is still trying to come to terms with: the fact of consciousness (L8-14). Anyway, you both got me thinking too, which is always good. Cheers.

John - that makes most things in my house magic to me: the kettle, the phone...

Mary - I brought back the caps on Chief of Spheres, but not 'blessed'. I quite like the idea of just nouns being capped - like Nemo's idea of a new zodiac. The Chief of Spheres would fit right in, I think.

I thought a lot about the line you suggested cutting. I think I'm going to keep it. My only justification being that it sounds better to me. And it does have the symmetry of 'we deserve' after 'kill us now' and 'We're tired' after 'kill us too'.

I agree it has a sonnet shaped sense of argument. Interesting!

Thanks folks!
Reply With Quote
  #25  
Unread 01-18-2019, 08:55 PM
Martin Elster Martin Elster is online now
Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Connecticut, USA
Posts: 5,713
Default

Hi Mark,

Quote:
Martin - Thanks. The poem paints in fairly broad strokes. It's the cry of an averagely informed and exasperated N, so I want the religious iconography in there to be the most archetypal stuff, rather than delving into less well-known myths.
That makes sense, especially since the archetypal stuff is what most people are most familiar with.

Quote:
Well yes, I think plenty see much more than allegory and symbol in there. Which is fine, except some of those people are in positions of great power.
You are correct. It was silly of me to imagine otherwise. And, yes, people in positions of power (like politicians) should be able to differentiate between fact and fiction.

Quote:
Nemo and Martin - Hmm. I'm really not trying to set up a 'modern science vs ancient wisdom' argument in the poem, where science wins. I think that's a false dichotomy, anyway.
I guess I was under the assumption that the poem was, indeed, trying to make that false dichotomy. But I can now read it without coming to such a conclusion.
Reply With Quote
  #26  
Unread 01-22-2019, 07:39 AM
Daniel Kemper's Avatar
Daniel Kemper Daniel Kemper is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: California
Posts: 702
Default

Hi Mark,

As far as rhymeless meter goes, this is about as well-handled as it gets, I suppose. You know my proclivities against, but I have to say. Not bad, not bad.

But I can't give this poem the cheap grace its found thus far, mostly on content reasons. It's didactic and fairly shallow. I didn't feel enough passion in the semi-calculated semi-rant to get pulled in. Second, it presents a false dichotomy of facile, dry, overworn, long-debunked stereotypes as the core of its rejectionism. Finally, being offensive is totally permissible, but it is offensive to place Christ, sinless (even non-believers find no fault in his behavior and self-sacrifice) on equal ground with a pedophile, who at 53 consummated a marriage to a ten-year old and who put all Christians to the sword-- the middle east, people forget did not belong to Moslems, but had become Christian without a single drop of blood falling, well except for a dozen who sacrificed themselves. This cheap equivalency among faiths and non-faiths seems willfully obtuse and drives me nuts. The example I pick is just a quick way to show the error of equivalency in the poem. I'm not saying the whole poem hinges on that one aside.

I suppose it is sort of part and parcel of an exasperated mind to think that way, which the poem does portray. So there's a little sunlight there, in that respect. Sorry to be so harsh, maybe I should go get a little coffee. Maybe Irish coffee.
Reply With Quote
  #27  
Unread 01-22-2019, 09:28 AM
Mark McDonnell Mark McDonnell is offline
Moderator
 
Join Date: May 2016
Location: England
Posts: 2,542
Default

Hey Daniel,

There's lots of rhyme in the poem. It's just not always at the end of the line.

Fwiw, the poem isn't interested in the relative morals of Jesus and Mohammed. That's not the poem's project at all. The only equivalence suggested by linking them is that the N very much doubts the claims made for either of them.

(Long, detailed rebuttal removed, because I made myself a 'poetry only arguments' new year resolution. I've learned that anything else is pointless and tiresome. For me at least. But oh wow.)


Edit - Thanks Martin. I had thought this one had slipped away. It should now...
Reply With Quote
Reply

Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Forum Jump



Forum Right Top
Forum Left Bottom Forum Right Bottom
 
Right Left
Member Login
Forgot password?
Forum LeftForum Right


Forum Statistics:
Forum Members: 7,952
Total Threads: 19,313
Total Posts: 247,290
There are 123 users
currently browsing forums.
Forum LeftForum Right


Forum Sponsor:
Donate & Support Able Muse / Eratosphere
Forum LeftForum Right
Right Right
Right Bottom Left Right Bottom Right

Hosted by ApplauZ Online