Monthly Archives: November 2014
What is it that we humans depend on? We depend on our words… Our task is to communicate experience and ideas to others. We must strive continually to extend the scope of our description, but in such a way that our messages do not thereby lose their objective or unambiguous character … We are suspended in language in such a way that we cannot say what is up and what is down. The word “reality” is also a word, a word which we must learn to use correctly.
–Niels Bohr, Quoted in Philosophy of Science Vol. 37 (1934), p. 157, and in The Truth of Science : Physical Theories and Reality (1997) by Roger Gerhard Newton, p. 176; courtesy of Wikiquote
Aboard at a Ship’s Helm
Aboard at a ship's helm, A young steersman steering with care. Through fog on a sea-coast dolefully ringing, An ocean-bell—O a warning bell, rock'd by the waves. O you give good notice indeed, you bell by the sea-reefs ringing, Ringing, ringing, to warn the ship from its wreck-place. For as on the alert O steersman, you mind the loud admonition, The bows turn, the freighted ship tacking speeds away under her gray sails, The beautiful and noble ship with all her precious wealth speeds away gayly and safe. But O the ship, the immortal ship! O ship aboard the ship! Ship of the body, ship of the soul, voyaging, voyaging, voyaging.
To the Man-of-War-Bird
Thou who hast slept all night upon the storm, Waking renew'd on thy prodigious pinions, (Burst the wild storm? above it thou ascended'st, And rested on the sky, thy slave that cradled thee,) Now a blue point, far, far in heaven floating, As to the light emerging here on deck I watch thee, (Myself a speck, a point on the world's floating vast.) Far, far at sea, After the night's fierce drifts have strewn the shore with wrecks, With re-appearing day as now so happy and serene, The rosy and elastic dawn, the flashing sun, The limpid spread of air cerulean, Thou also re-appearest. Thou born to match the gale, (thou art all wings,) To cope with heaven and earth and sea and hurricane, Thou ship of air that never furl'st thy sails, Days, even weeks untired and onward, through spaces, realms gyrating, At dusk that lookist on Senegal, at morn America, That sport'st amid the lightning-flash and thunder-cloud, In them, in thy experiences, had'st thou my soul, What joys! what joys were thine!
Tears! tears! tears! In the night, in solitude, tears, On the white shore dripping, dripping, suck'd in by the sand, Tears, not a star shining, all dark and desolate, Moist tears from the eyes of a muffled head; O who is that ghost? that form in the dark, with tears? What shapeless lump is that, bent, crouch'd there on the sand? Streaming tears, sobbing tears, throes, choked with wild cries; O storm, embodied, rising, careering with swift steps along the beach! O wild and dismal night storm, with wind—O belching and desperate! O shade so sedate and decorous by day, with calm countenance and regulated pace, But away at night as you fly, none looking—O then the unloosen'd ocean, Of tears! tears! tears!
As I Ebb’d with the Ocean of Life
4 Ebb, ocean of life, (the flow will return,) Cease not your moaning you fierce old mother, Endlessly cry for your castaways, but fear not, deny not me, Rustle not up so hoarse and angry against my feet as I touch you or gather from you. I mean tenderly by you and all, I gather for myself and for this phantom looking down where we lead, and following me and mine. Me and mine, loose windrows, little corpses, Froth, snowy white, and bubbles, (See, from my dead lips the ooze exuding at last, See, the prismatic colors glistening and rolling,) Tufts of straw, sands, fragments, Buoy'd hither from many moods, one contradicting another, From the storm, the long calm, the darkness, the swell, Musing, pondering, a breath, a briny tear, a dab of liquid or soil, Up just as much out of fathomless workings fermented and thrown, A limp blossom or two, torn, just as much over waves floating, drifted at random, Just as much for us that sobbing dirge of Nature, Just as much whence we come that blare of the cloud-trumpets, We, capricious, brought hither we know not whence, spread out before you, You up there walking or sitting, Whoever you are, we too lie in drifts at your feet.
As I Ebb’d with the Ocean of Life
3 You oceans both, I close with you, We murmur alike reproachfully rolling sands and drift, knowing not why, These little shreds indeed standing for you and me and all. You friable shore with trails of debris, You fish-shaped island, I take what is underfoot, What is yours is mine my father. I too Paumanok, I too have bubbled up, floated the measureless float, and been wash'd on your shores, I too am but a trail of drift and debris, I too leave little wrecks upon you, you fish-shaped island. I throw myself upon your breast my father, I cling to you so that you cannot unloose me, I hold you so firm till you answer me something. Kiss me my father, Touch me with your lips as I touch those I love, Breathe to me while I hold you close the secret of the murmuring I envy.
As I Ebb’d with the Ocean of Life
2 As I wend to the shores I know not, As I list to the dirge, the voices of men and women wreck'd, As I inhale the impalpable breezes that set in upon me, As the ocean so mysterious rolls toward me closer and closer, I too but signify at the utmost a little wash'd-up drift, A few sands and dead leaves to gather, Gather, and merge myself as part of the sands and drift. O baffled, balk'd, bent to the very earth, Oppress'd with myself that I have dared to open my mouth, Aware now that amid all that blab whose echoes recoil upon me I have not once had the least idea who or what I am, But that before all my arrogant poems the real Me stands yet untouch'd, untold, altogether unreach'd, Withdrawn far, mocking me with mock-congratulatory signs and bows, With peals of distant ironical laughter at every word I have written, Pointing in silence to these songs, and then to the sand beneath. I perceive I have not really understood any thing, not a single object, and that no man ever can, Nature here in sight of the sea taking advantage of me to dart upon me and sting me, Because I have dared to open my mouth to sing at all.
There is a spiritual obligation, there is a task to be done. It is not, however, something as simple as following a set of somebody else’s rules. The noetic enterprise is a primary obligation toward being. Our salvation is linked to it. Not everyone has to read alchemical texts or study superconducting biomolecules to make the transition. Most people make it naively by thinking clearly about the present at hand, but we intellectuals are trapped in a world of too much information. Innocence is gone for us. We cannot expect to cross the rainbow bridge through a good act of contrition; that will not be sufficient.
We have to understand.
–Terence McKenna, “New Maps of Hyperspace”; courtesy of Wikiquote