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Being a Poem in the Making (Part #10)

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The argument presents the "languages" of science and poetry as complementary modes of knowing -- a cognitively challenging complementarity exemplifying that articulated by C. P. Snow (The Two Cultures, 1959). The concerns presented regarding "science" follow from tendencies to scientism. Corresponding concerns regarding poetics might be usefully associated with under-recognized tendencies to poeticism.

Playful vehicles of identity: The above notes are not intended as an "explanation" but, provocatively, as a complementary "inplanation" -- echoing musings on meaning of personal significance. Use of "notes" is a reminder of the possibility of detecting a hidden harmony, and of the role of the "player". The result is necessarily selective in a complex knowledge universe in which all are subject to information overload and limited expertise. It is to be expected that multiple "rediscoveries of the wheel" are to be a characteristic of the future for those embedded in that space -- despite the efforts to restrict such discovery and learning through the exclusive misappropriation of knowledge as intellectual property.

The argument could be understood as composed of disparate "verses" -- drawn to some degree from different "universes", between which communication and travel are typically problematic. These verses could then be understood as partially configured to form a prose poem -- necessarily clumsy to any observer in quest of explanation, but with degrees of connectivity as an inplanation. The possibility of engaging with such a poem is indicated by the title Being a Poem in the Making.

That title offers a way of identifying with the dynamic array of possibilities constituted by the configuration of the 64 decision-making "uni-verses" of the I Ching -- between which a complex pattern of potential associative resonances is evident. Borrowing from physics, these could be understood as a waveform of meaningful being -- a dynamic expression of identity. A further thought is the sense in which those 64 "universes" could be compared to a "64-box Schrödinger-cat situation" -- each with "slits" for the passage of light.

Multiverse of cognitive transformations: The argument is fundamentally preoccupied with the nature of the inplanation process through which an individual can engage in cultivating nourishing meaning in a chaotic context, as variously highlighted (Living as an Imaginal Bridge between Worlds: global implications of "betwixt and between" and liminality, 2011; Towards the Dynamic Art of Partial Comprehension, 2012; Engaging with the Inexplicable, the Incomprehensible and the Unexpected, 2010). Hence the subtitle: Engendering a Multiverse through Musing.

The chaos can be reframed in terms of cosmopolitanism, as argued by Ananta Kumar Giri (Cosmopolitanism and Beyond: towards a multiverse of transformations, Development and Change, 37, 2006, 6, pp. 1277-1292):

A revival of cosmopolitanism seems to be underway in both discourse and practice. However, much of this revival draws from only one trajectory of cosmopolitanism, and fails to build upon different traditions of cosmopolitan thinking and experimentation. Cosmopolitanization is an ongoing process of critique, creativity and border-crossing which involves transformations in self, culture, society, economy and polity. It requires multi-dimensional processes of self-development, inclusion of the other, and planetary realizations. Against this background, this contribution explores the multiverse of transformations that confront contemporary discourses of cosmopolitanism. It also discusses the issue of cosmopolitan responsibility, noting three major challenges: global justice; cross-species dignity; and dialogue among civilizations, cultures, religions and traditions.

There is the curious possibility, implied by the potential existence of "life" in parallel universes, that all that can be meaningfully communicated between such universes is "patterns" in their most general sense -- whether or not the "aliens" are extraterrestrial (cf. Communicating with Aliens: the psychological dimension of dialogue, 2000). Given the pattern of exploitative initiatives of "multinationals" and their efforts to patent genes, this would suggest that aliens from other universes might act primarily so as to acquire "patterns" -- even acting through "multiversals".

Engaging with time: In engaging presumptuously with the complexities of the multiverse imagined by physics, the cognitive challenge can be related to that for any individual of engaging meaningfully with the sweep of time and history (cf. Engaging Macrohistory through the Present Moment, 2004). This is radically reframed by the paradoxical relationship to imagined finality (Paradoxes of Engaging with the Ultimate in any Guise: Living Life Penultimately, 2012).

The argument implies the merit of a poetic epic as a contribution to global sensemaking for the collective. In this sense it is fruitful to note the comment of J. O.Kinnaman (Studies in Vergil, Theosophical Path Magazine, 14, 1, 1918, pp. 24-36):

Vergil looks down through history from Aeneas to Augustus; from Augustus up to Aeneas, and he finds it telling one story, breathing one spirit, the spirit that brought Aeneas from Troy to the Tiber's mouth; that consolidated Rome; that subjugated Carthage; in fact, the spirit that made Rome what it was. If the verse quoted... is the keystone to the arch of the Aeneid, why did not Vergil write an historical poem? ...

Perhaps there were two reasons why Vergil did not commit himself to historical poetry. First, there is a lack of unity in history that prevents metrical history from becoming a poem. The poet is held closely to fact, to the narration of a series of events, and these events, except in treatment of history as philosophy, seem not to be related to a central concept; without this central concept a poem is utterly impossible. Second, the functions of poetry and history are different. Aristotle says that Poetry tends to express the universal, history the particular. It is the universal that Vergil wishes to express, but to express this universal he must draw upon the particular. He must have a central concept around which the details that make for the universal may be grouped. He must see clearly the philosophy of history without projecting it upon the consciousness of the reader; he must be scientific in his treatment without academic erudition; he must appeal to the human side of his readers, arouse and enlist their sympathy. In short, the task Vergil assigned himself was that of expressing the Roman people; not only that, but the utterance of humanity. The Aeneid's interest is not local but universal; it expresses the feelings not of a tribe, people, or nation, but of all civilized humanity. It has been the favorite poem of European races for nearly two thousand years, expressing for them the fountain source of all activity -- love and sorrow. (p. 27) [emphasis added]

"Multiverse" as a fundamental existential question? This raises the question as to whether preoccupation with "multiverse" now serves as a new kind of (escapist) "container" -- an information analogue to "sustainability" and "sustainable development" -- whose inadequacies have become increasingly apparent. As argued by Timothy W. Luke (Neither sustainable nor development: reconsidering sustainability in development, Sustainable Development, 2005) the rhetorical workings of "sustainable development" as an ideological construct in contemporary global society merit challenge. The term is increasingly used as a label to place over modes of existence that are neither sustainable nor developmental -- as "hesitant andmultiversalqualities of transformation". Yet, the rhetoric is also now a material culture of being that is created, carried and continued in the everyday practices of design, exchange and production. Might this come to be true of "multiverse" as currently promoted?

The very status of "multiverse" is appropriately challenged by George F. R. Ellis (The multiverse proposal and the anthropic principle, 2006):

Why any multiverse at all? Why this one rather than that one? One ends up with a proposition (the multiverse) that cannot be proved correct by scientific methods - belief in its existence is a matter of faith. So one needs to return to the issue of the nature of proof, and philosophical justification of beliefs: - What is an acceptable scientific proof? - What is a reasonable philosophical justification for a belief to be held as true? That is in the end a key philosophic issue in the link between the two, which does help illuminate the difference between science and religion as far as belief structures are concerned.

World-making through identification with song: Such arguments take the form of "explanation" for the collective however, when the case made here is for "inplanation" for the individual. A very powerful "inploration" of this possibility is offered by the philosopher, Antonio de Nicolas (Four-dimensional Man: meditations through the Rg Veda, 1978), using the non-Boolean logic of quantum mechanics of Patrick A. Heelan (The Logic of Changing Classificatory Frameworks, 1974). The unique feature of this approach is that it is grounded in tone and the shifting relationships between tone. It is through the pattern of musical tones that the significance of the Rg Veda is to be found -- in the light of its integration of knowledge into Sanskrit verse form:

Therefore, from a linguistic and cultural perspective, we have to be aware that we are dealing with a language where tonal and arithmetical relations establish the epistemological invariances... Language grounded in music is grounded thereby on context dependency; any tone can have any possible relation to other tones, and the shift from one tone to another, which alone makes melody possible, is a shift in perspective which the singer himself embodies. Any perspective (tone) must be "sacrificed" for a new one to come into being; the song is a radical activity which requires innovation while maintaining continuity, and the "world" is the creation of the singer, who shares its dimensions with the song. (p. 57)

Poetic engagement as a "martial art"? In framing the relationship between the modes of knowing of science and poetics as a complementarity, the intimate complicity of science with development of weapons, and with the inhumanly "hard choices" of governance, has to be recognized -- possibly as being a mysterious necessity. Is it to be expected that identification with poetry-making is also meaningful in the face of the hard choices of the times -- rather than being an escapist indulgence? (cf. (Poetry-making and Policy-making: arranging a marriage between Beauty and the Beast, 1993).

How relevant is the cognitive framework of the warrior poet tradition -- especially given its role in an area of current strategic instability? (cf. Poetic Engagement with Afghanistan, Caucasus and Iran: an unexplored strategic opportunity? 2009). What insights are emerging from poetry slams and from poetic jousting? (Strategic Jousting through Poetic Wrestling: aesthetic reframing of the clash of civilizations, 2009). Can "martial arts" be fruitfully reframed? (Ensuring Strategic Resilience through Haiku Patterns: reframing the scope of the "martial arts" in response to strategic threats, 2006).

Death of a multiverse? The interwoven threads above regarding the "verses" of a poem and the "verses" of physics together offer a culmination through the finality associated with "death". The speculations of astrophysics touch on the nature of the death of the universe -- with implications within a multiversal context.

In addition to the above-mentioned consideration of "death poems", poems are created regarding the nature of death (cf. Winston L. King, Death Was His Koan: Samurai Zen of Suzuki Shosan, 1986). The "death of a poem" may be variously addressed, as with that frequently cited by A. K. Ramanujan (On The Death of A Poem): Images consult one another / a conscience-stricken jury / and come slowly to a sentence (cf. Taranee Deka, A Poet with Indian Sensibilities: a deconstructive reading of A.K Ramanujan's poems, International Review of Social Sciences and Humanities, 2012). Or others, anonymously (cf. The Death of a Poem, Death of a Poem). For Bruce Bond:

I have a hard time mustering excitement in my own mind for the kind of simplifications involved in making statements about nations and religions and the like, though I am indeed attracted to writing political poems -- intriguing largely because it is so difficult to be sharp, immediate, and aware of the poem's and poet's own limitations. The language of literary criticism can be the death of a poem -- since a cold objectification might exacerbate an air of self-conscious sophistication in the context of a poem. Then again, theory can be a rich source material if transfigured in the light of immediate necessities and more fully put under pressure there. (Incorporating Multiple Disciplines in Your Writing, LitBridge, 18 August 2012)

The ultimate fate of the universe is a topic in physical cosmology. This may be framed in terms of a heat death, the Big Crunch, or an Omega Point -- potentially contained within a multiverse, possibly allowing for cyclicity. Physicists have however little that is personally meaningful to say regarding individual death, especially including their own -- and despite personal experience of approaching senility. Controversially, two Fellows of the Royal Society, William Crookes and Oliver Lodge, considered that the nature of any survival following death of the physical body should be considered as a branch of physics.

It is then at least appropriate for the individual to reflect on the sense in which the exprience of personal life is itself a "verse" within a larger ("multiversal") pattern, as some religions would claim. The current renewal in enthusiasm for "immortality", and "survival after death", may even be given greater coherence and credibility through further interweaving the speculation of astrophysical explanation and of poetic inplanation (cf. The Campaign for Philosophical Freedom, Where we are at the moment regarding the definitive proof of survival after death, 2011). Embodying identity within the resonant associations of a "poem" -- as a form of cognitive DNA, intertwining explicit and implicit -- may even prove vital to the aspirations for continuity of identity associated wth mind uploading (cf. Randall A. Koene, How to copy a brain, New Scientist, 27 October 2012). The paradoxically interwoven qualities of the "eternal" are then appropriately echoed by the titles of Douglas Hofstadter (Gödel, Escher, Bach: an Eternal Golden Braid, 1979) and of Steven M. Rosen (The Self-evolving Cosmos: a phenomenological approach to nature's unity-in-diversity, 2008).

Transdisciplinarity as metaverse: If, as suggested, "disciplines" as ways of knowing can be fruitfully understood as "verses" or modes of versification, then the challenge of "transdisciplinarity" could be understood as a process of "metaversification" sustaining the cognitive dynamic of a "metaverse", as is now imaginatively explored (cf. Metaphors as Transdisciplinary Vehicles of the Future, 1991). This contrasts with the cognitive closure implied by aspirations to an ultimate "Theory of Everything" (TOE) or a "Grand Unified Theory" (GUT) -- a closure about which the issues raised by Hillary Lawson merit consideration (Closure: a story of everything, 2001). Fundamental to a metaverse is then the openness to further imaginative versification. This fruitfully reframes the widespread unhealthy cognitive obsession with final achievement of the utimate, as separately argued (Paradoxes of Engaging with the Ultimate in any Guise: Living Life Penultimately, 2012).

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