Powder River, graceful meanders, near Keating . . .
On the road in the American Northwest.
[ double-click to play moviePoem |
See also my new quartet of poems
from the ON THE WAYSIDE stream
ON THE LITERAL MAN & THE
IMPOSSIBILITY OF METAPHOR
The world of the literal man is a world of extreme fragmentation.
In this broken-apart world of the literal man, the natural weave
of the interdependencies of wholeness has been ripped apart,
and ‘facts’ and ‘things’ exist in all but complete isolation.
It is a world, therefore, in which the this-is-like-that of analogy
and metaphor not only makes little sense, but is no longer even
possible. And it is a world, because nothing is felt as being connected
to anything else, ethical responsibility has been reduced
to the exigencies of hard cash and personal survival.
It comes as little surprise that the literal man makes the perfect
foot soldier in the technological armies of mechanistic science,
the same science that has given us the modern weapons industry.
Here we find the literal man in the form of the brilliant
physicist who without the slightest ethical qualms diligently
increases the yields of each new nuclear device; Or the literal
man in the form of the virtuoso economist who spins the market
trends with great short-term success and mathematical élan,
while completely ignoring every single relevant feature and
consequence of the wider, long-term context; Or the literal man
of the genetic engineer of genius who cleverly creates seeds that
self-destruct, seeds that you must now forever buy because they
terminate in their own infertility.
The final extreme? A world resource empire that hordes the
very water of life itself, and then sells it back to us at a price
only he, the literal man, can afford. This is the “participate or
perish” world of the literal man. It is a world in which morality
has been reduced to the tightest of circles around ‘the me.’ It is
a state of mind and being which now, sadly, manifests in Western
culture in both genders about equally.
Complication—in contrast to the richness of natural complexity—
is about making things at least twice as difficult as
necessary, thereby making it easy to do really difficult
things—not at all.
BETWEEN THE WORLDS
All mischief begins with distance. Poet, scientist, farmer,
teacher:—be the messenger between the worlds.