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  #11  
Old 01-11-2019, 12:32 PM
Rick Mullin's Avatar
Rick Mullin Rick Mullin is offline
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I think you need to keep Singularity capitalized, as it is "a thing" developed by John von Neumann and promulgated Ray Kurzweil. It's kind of a proper noun and a big enough target to get the cap. I understand that you are, in a sense, coining the term in and for the poem. But still.
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  #12  
Old 01-11-2019, 12:46 PM
Mark McDonnell Mark McDonnell is offline
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Hi Rick!

Ah, I was thinking of the gravitational singularity: the black hole thing, rather than the AI thing. Hence 'O Swallowing'. Two sciencey concepts with the same name, confusingly. But anyway, yep, I've kept the capital. Thanks.
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Old 01-11-2019, 01:08 PM
David Callin David Callin is offline
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I like the quantum gubbins (and the line break), and the line of thought in the first section. I think you could usefully compress it. (Think black holes, but it's okay to let a bit of light escape.)

I like the second section a lot - although I'm not sure I subscribe to "kill us now" as a solution to either state of affairs. I'm happy to see that Erik is of the same opinion. Nemo's (and Rick's) take on it is interesting, but I can't get it to work for me.

Who is the Merchant? (He seems to be associated with the Cave?) He seems not to reside in my paltry memory bank of allusions.

Cheers

David
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  #14  
Old 01-11-2019, 02:31 PM
David Callin David Callin is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Don Jones View Post
It is an interesting coincidence that this poem is an answer to John Isbell's poem "Baroque" posted on another thread.
Interesting. I saw it as an answer to Daniel's Watching and Waiting poem.
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  #15  
Old 01-11-2019, 04:08 PM
Mark McDonnell Mark McDonnell is offline
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Hi David,

It predates both those poems actually. I remember starting it after this little exchange prompted by our very own Mary Meriam's facebook post. I started googling and came across Carl Sagan's 'star stuff' quote. Sorry you can't quite get on board with 'kill us now', but that's ok! It's not meant to be anything that the N is genuinely asking or hoping for.

https://m.facebook.com/story.php?sto...d=11432383 08

Though yes, there have been a lot of 'Why Are We Here/What's it All About?' poems knocking around recently. They're like buses, clearly.

Who's the Merchant? Mohammed innit. He was in a cave wasn't he with Jibhril/Gabriel taking dictation?
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  #16  
Old 01-11-2019, 04:34 PM
Erik Olson Erik Olson is offline
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Mark,

I understand how this works as a joyous poem, as you say. If you are not absolutely and continually thrilled and amazed that you exist, just kills us now. I just am not a fan of the kill us now bit because it sounds in and of itself silly to me. Of course every now and again something or other is bound not to resonate in me of even some well-received poem of yours, for whatever reason. This just happens to be one of those cases I suppose. I am glad that others are into that howl.

Best,
Erik
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  #17  
Old 01-11-2019, 04:57 PM
Jim Moonan Jim Moonan is offline
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The spray and fallout of this poem as a kind of response to everything that is currently buzzing in your world spreads all the way to my humble offering over on non-met (Just a little: ...shifting/play of light,... maybe just my imagination).

You, more than many others, take a risk every time you expel a poem to be read and critted. The risk in this one is a quantum one, IMO. To dare utter an ultimatum like "just kill me now" says you think it's a pretty safe bet no one is listening. Nothing...

But I like Nemo's characterization of the phrase as being a passing mood -- albeit one that is all-in.
More than anything, I like the sentiment that drives this. At risk of misinterpreting both you and Eliot, this has a mentality to it that I can imagine Prufrock having before he reached his burned-out frame of mind that Eliot depicted in his Lovesong.
But the most ambitious aspect of this is your direct embrace of the "big picture" subjects that, to my recollection, you seldom call by name and only allude to.

Well. I will read this over a few more times to see if anything I've said makes any sense It's a burst of emotion and a jolt of intellect -- nothing you can't survive
x
x
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  #18  
Old 01-11-2019, 05:33 PM
Martin Elster Martin Elster is offline
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Hi Mark,

First of all, I love Carl Sagan!

I like the first half of the poem. It’s great (though it doesn’t mention the most astounding discovery of all: evolution).

I’m not sure what I think about “Just kill us now.” It sounds a bit silly to me. But I understand the gist of it: if we don’t see and appreciate the beauty and awesomeness and mysteries of the universe and life, then we might as well be dead. We only live once, so let’s not burry our heads in the sands of existence. “Skip in the pool of the moon ... Laugh at the sky ...” (Vita Sackville-West) or “shake your ass!”

The second half of the poem (starting with “but if”), I found less interesting. It just seems too obvious. Would any rational person living now think the tall tales of the Old and New Testaments describe reality? And in terms of wonder and weirdness, thousands of years old notions don’t hold a candle to the astonishing things that modern science has uncovered and may yet uncover.

I love the last 3 lines, though.

Here is a thought experiment. Transport someone from Ancient Egypt to now and see if they faint from shock. They might even die!

And they lived on the same tiny blue dot that we do!

Perhaps if your poem were to allude to some other kinds of stories and superstitions from other cultures through history, it may make the poem more compelling. For example myths from Africa, the Americas, Asia, the Indian subcontinent, Europe, the Middle East, Pacific Islands/Oceania, and even mythopoeia by fiction writers such as Tokien. Here is one example of a creation myth:

Quote:
The Cherokee creation belief describes the earth as a great floating island surrounded by seawater. It hangs from the sky by cords attached at the four cardinal points. The story tells that the first earth came to be when Dyuni's (Beaver's Grandchild), the little Water beetle came from Gl'lt, the sky realm, to see what was below the water. He scurried over the surface of the water, but found no solid place to rest. He dived to the bottom of the water and brought up some soft mud. This mud expanded in every direction and became the earth, according to the account recorded in 1900 by the Bureau of American Ethnology.

The other animals in Gl'lt were eager to come down to the new earth, and first birds were sent to see if the mud was dry. Buzzard was sent ahead to make preparations for the others, but the earth was still soft. When he grew tired, his wings dipped very low and brushed the soft mud, gouging mountains and valleys in the smooth surface, and the animals were forced to wait again. When it was finally dry they all came down. It was dark, so they took the sun and set it in a track to run east to west, at first setting it too low and the red crawfish was scorched. They elevated the sun several times in order to reduce its heat.

The story also tells how plants and animals acquired certain characteristics, and is related to one of their medicine rituals. They all were told to stay awake for seven nights, but only a few animals, such as owl and panther, succeeded and they were given the power to see and prey upon the others at night. Only a few trees succeeded as well, namely cedar, pine, spruce and laurel, so the rest were forced to shed their leaves in the winter.

The first people were a brother and sister. Once, the brother hit his sister with a fish and told her to multiply. Following this, she gave birth to a child every seven days and soon there were too many people, so women were forced to have just one child every year.[2]

Last edited by Martin Elster; 01-11-2019 at 06:20 PM.
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  #19  
Old 01-11-2019, 05:50 PM
Martin Elster Martin Elster is offline
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By the way, Mark, I think you would enjoy this talk.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5pbHsRz8A7w&t=2589s
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  #20  
Old 01-11-2019, 06:54 PM
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R. Nemo Hill R. Nemo Hill is offline
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"And in terms of wonder and weirdness, thousands of years old notions dont hold a candle to the astonishing things that modern science has uncovered and may yet uncover."

Excuse me, Martin, but that is a rather lopsided view of cultural history, egregiously so. I guess everyone tends to think the innovations of their own age are the most special, but even so your statement exhibits a pretty damning prejudice against wisdom eternal. Such a statement seems devoid of any understanding of the symbolic dimensions of mind.

And you don't stop there.
"Here is a thought experiment. Transport someone from Ancient Egypt to now and see if they faint from shock. They might even die!"
I'd try reversing the terms of that one and see if the shock is not parallel.

Just sayin'.

Nemo
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