I’ve been helping my niece study for the English and reading portions of the ACT. She asked me why she’s being tested this way. “I don’t think like this every day,” she said. Suddenly I found myself in the middle of a lesson on logic—specifically, why colleges value a carefully crafted analytic approach.
The world is full of problems. People prefer order over chaos. College prepares students for the real world, which is full of chaos. Logic—or the promise of its power—puts folks at ease.
But I’m a poet, and poets like to mess with shit.
What about the world is knowable? Do words, phrases, sentences, etc. always give an accurate account of Reality? What is Reality? Who are you without language? Is love logical? Will achieving a high score on the ACT get me into a good school, secure me a high-paying job and guarantee my happiness?
Believe me, I’m working hard to tutor my niece. I want her to succeed and I appreciate our time together. She has a point about not understanding the ulterior motives of the ACT test-makers, but she still has to take it.
Logic has its place, no doubt, but what about Wonder? What becomes of adventure when the Secret has been spilled? Adults spend hours upon hours languishing away in cubicles. Given the gravity of our daily business, a moment of play—and time taken to indulge the Irrational—makes a whole lot of sense.
“The future of the book is the blurb.” –Marshall McLuhan, 1964
The miniaturization of the mind is upon us. There’s always a use for BIGGER, but life these days keeps getting smaller. Twitter is the microchip of language. The economy of words forgoing richness for a poverty of thought. Books blabber. Who has the time? McLuhan must be laughing from beyond the grave. Brevity has become the soul of twit.
The Ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus declared, “You could not step twice into the same river.” He was fascinated by change, how nothing stays still. My second step into say, the Des Plaines River, isn’t technically a second step because moments after the first step I am not the same nor is the river.
Martin Irvine, a professor of media studies, has brought this concept into the twenty-first century. “You can’t step into the same flow of information once,” he writes on his website. Today information flows so rapidly, so incessantly and through so many channels that I can’t force even the smallest drop to pause long enough to chart its course.
But there’s more to this. Today I can’t step into separate flows of information because I’m immersed in INFORMATION all the time. I’m drowning in gigabytes. Choking on algorithms. The only stepping is to “step out.” In other words, to die.
One day, I fear, data will subdue us. We will succumb to inputs and outputs. The Cloud will know everything. Especially our secrets. We’ll be laid bare, the world entirely visible. Nothing left to see here, people. Nothing left to see.
ACCOUNT FOR THE SPARKS
Give me your take
on steamed broccoli,
how curry stirs the senses.
The value behind a
The chance God cares,
given all our troubles.
Why it’s hard to
the daily burden
tending to a dick.
How that gorgeous
through a somber
the world is lacking.
Why there’s no excuse
for thoughtless fools.
Account for the sparks
in the back of my mind.
The torch you’ve lit
in the caverns of my soul.
c b snoad
I recently told a friend that I want to feel more. I’m weary of thinking, I said. I want to feel more. What does this mean? Humor me a little while I pick this idea apart.
Possible Interpretations/Some Notes Regarding the Sentiment “I Want to Feel More”:
- “Feel” as emotion, as in being comfortable with how I feel about the world.
- “How I feel about the world,” as in my impressions of the world, or my world, to be exact.
- “How I feel about the world,” as in what emotions I feel while being out in the world.
- “Feel” as touching, as in holding loved ones close or grabbing onto things that catch my eye, like an infant.
- “Feel more” as in feel like I’m more than just myself, that I’m greater than the sum of my parts.
- “Feel more” as in I want other people to see and accept my complexity, so that I feel like more than just a regular person to the people I care about.
- “Feel” as opposed to think, as in I think too much.
- Making the statement knowing full well that saying “I want to feel more” matters less than actually going out and feeling.
- It’s a mistake to separate thinking and feeling in the first place; they inform each other.
I could go on, but I think I proved my point. I must’ve been channeling Keats or some other Romantic poet. And good poets, after all, know how to feel.
[T]oday we have entered into a new form of schizophrenia—with the emergence of an immanent promiscuity and the perpetual interconnection of all information and communication networks. No more hysteria, or projective paranoia as such, but a state of terror which is characteristic of the schizophrenic, an over-proximity of all things, a foul promiscuity of all things which beleaguer and penetrate him, meeting with no resistance, and no halo, no aura, not even the aura of his own body protects him. (Jean Baudrillard, The Ecstasy of Communication, 1987, p. 30)
There’s a lot going on in this passage. To dissect its meaning would murder the poetry. I know only that I enjoy it, that my returning to it says something about my relationship with “an immanent promiscuity and the perpetual interconnection of all information and communication networks.”
I’ve written many times about people’s fascination with cell phones. I fancy myself a part-time cultural critic pointing out the pitfalls of exchanging what makes us human for the allure of the newest all-mighty gadget, the “Next Big Thing,” as one company likes to advertise.
But last week I bought a smartphone. Simply put: I like it. For too long I muddled through life without a reliable 4G LTE network, an unlimited data plan, or a strong enough signal to text from my basement.
There’s no disconnect here. Now I can Google the nearest independent bookstore, call them up and ask for the obscure French philosophy department. All the way from my basement.