Saturday, August 27, 2011

The Rise and Fall of Narcissus Icarus


Look! Somewhere else again

the beautiful at play, two at least.
As new leaves inhabit shine
they bend,

The setting barely matters. Strength
of their young Now, its vibrant Forever
firm, capable of anything. Forget all

concern. Smiles reflect
and guile loves innocence …

Gaze –

eyes bright with momentum
ignite love, so very deep.

Beauty to eat. Thighs butterfly
wet wounds at me
an old age away
at one

glassy remove. Palm

out the distance
on morning trains of dirt-yellow grey.


Mind out, vision in, Voyeur
sees shoulder and neck, head
and face strained in loose skin
grey under oily sheen.

For now there is no motion but this.
No air con noise. Black hair
pooled on cotton sheets her fingers

nestle in white curls sprouting
from his big back. For now
her touch is dead.

The lines that slot their heads
side to side—eyes mutually closed,
hips thrust down and in—

fill the frame, the mirror
rippling out through the stillness
my reverie births, here,

by the hotel pool, clean, blue.
Alone in its sunned waters, at play,
two young nymphs reflecting

my imagination. Mine. Their men,
broad, overweight, over fifty,

waddle to poolside, cast words
into the air, share smiles.
What I know of this
I could fit on a postcard.

What I know shines back at me.
Fall forever into reflections.


God glitters in the pellucid pool,
there, of the washed pebbles, the wash
itself. Reach in

and He dissolves. If His Hand
is anything, it is the Shine touch kills.

Hypnotic meadow, colour’s vast expanse.
We fly at the sun’s reflective pane

forever busied missing it
by one impossible inch

as heat melts everything.


Martin said...

Pictures from a vacation?
Water everywhere.
Hopefully the fat men weren't in Speedos.

"Will our language one day be free of “Thanks, I owe you one”? I doubt it, but who knows. "

Eisenstein says when we have fully overcome the Separation, we will have no need for phrases such as these. Surely "thank you" will remain, since I am always grateful that you took notice of me and offered me something I needed. But "I owe you one" is meaningless, since you and I both know that I owe you nothing, yet no one has been exploited, as that is also a concept from the long ago days of Separation. You are comforted with the thought that I will offer you something valuable as well when we next meet, or when we next, next meet. And I am conforted with the thought that I am sure I will have something valuable to offer you when we next meet.

But you're right, our civilization has been away from this type of thinking much too long already. The Age of Conquest was our last chance to recapture some of what we lost, but our ancestors were haughty, seeing nothing to learn. We now need stepping stones, rules and regulations, bits flipping on hard drives, to work our way back to unity with nature. Step by step, barring of course an awful cataclysm which might return us to that way of thinking faster and by necessity.

Reading Eisenstein, I'm often not even sure if he is describing sentient life, or if he is subconsciously remembering the beforelife. It's all so dreamlike.

I walk among my fellows, secure. Secure in that they know everything about me, I have nothing to hide, and they hide nothing from me. I am at the bosom of family, community, society. We heed no one but the rhythms of nature, and we make no mistakes. The movement of water, the intonation of the wind, patter of footsteps, the sea. The rhythms of words. We nurse newborns carefully into the world, and we nurse the dying carefully out of the world, and we have no second thoughts. No one loses anything. No one gains anything. One lives, enjoys the company of the others alive alongside you, and one day dies. It is the way of nature, and nature is the way of God.

All is here, laughter, raucus and gleeful, soft and subtle. Love, warm flesh, sweet smells, earthen smells, human and animal. The sense of peace and oneness takes hold, moving from one horizon, through your being, yes you laugh, from one ear through to the other, and onward to the other horizon. I have felt this sensation, and Eisenstein professes he as well. Yet can this truly once again be our reality, as we yet live on this earth?

Toby said...

Some of the pictures are from vacation, but not all of them. This poem took 2 - 3 months to write. Maybe 4. The remaining images came to me on holiday. And no, the men were not wearing speedos. Thank you for that image. ;-)

Debt and gratitude. I think David Graeber is better on this than Eisenstein. And yet looking to the past to predict the future is fraught with difficulty. Just because: the gift was seen as X by tribe Y, and a little bit differently by tribe Z; just because modern man has debt-money to sever bonds of gratitude yet is still rooted in The Gift; all has meaning, yes, but there can be no return to How It Once Was. Not even to one millisecond ago. Eisenstein knows this of course, yet I think he sees too much pertinence in our deep past.

And yet we really can't know, as you say, what the future will bring. I try to stay fixed on the trajectory of it all, rather than any particular aspect of that trajectory. Here I am 100% with Eisenstein; we've been growing and that is over. What we are painfully learning is how to do steady state, how to be a mature species on the planet which birthed us. Steady state requires enormous changes if we want to improve people's lives right across the planet. As to the effects of this transition on debt (which is money), to make predictions here is risky, but I am beginning to distinguish between two types of debt: measured-explicit and general. The former is money, the latter 'something vague in society's air.' We can all live happily with trust and open, unspecified forms of 'I owe you one'. Interest bearing debt, measured via some market-based unit of account, is quite another matter. Measured-explicit debt is sticky. It coagulates and blocks human potential. Its wildly uneven distribution tendencies was sort of appropriate to the growth phase for reasons of leverage and accumulated power, but is horribly inappropriate now.

So your glimpses of Nirvana are, in my opinion, glimpses of a possible future. If we go RBE and construct local, mostly automated regions globally federated by some resource management system such that 'work' becomes that which we must do to uphold as much justice as possible, the reward being that justice, and sustain as 'equal' a distribution of the fruits of human ingenuity as possible, we will no longer need each other at the survival level. Our need for each other will be social. That this bleeds into survival, that hierarchies and inequalities are inescapable, is good. With pure, 100%, 'genuine' equality there can be no discernible difference, hence no information, and hence no change. That's death. A RBE, whatever that is, will be a socioeconomics happy with steady state, and measured-explicit debt will slowly dissolve as a consequence of it. Generalized debt and obligation will still be there, for thousands of reasons, but that's ok I think.

Martin said...

Yup, a return to how it all once was is impossible, time travel is a springboard for goofy Star Trek episodes.

But don't the source of all our longings issue from springs at the base of our consciousness? In this particular case, Separation is the reaction to one such spring. Humans thought they understood what was there, did not like what they saw, and set out in a diametric direction. What is the true content of what is issuing from the spring? No one knows, and very likely no one has ever really known, even in the days before the agrarian societies began. To return, means to reassess the spring, in total honesty, no matter how painful. And possibly to surrender. It may even be that we as humans, limited in form that we are, may never know, because we simply cannot see. Or we may see and again not like what we see, and begin the whole mess all over again in a different format. But return we must, before we can continue.

Toby said...

Well those are easy questions to answer!

I don't know what consciousness is in and of itself. Though nothing is anything in and of itself. Being convinced by the inner logic of systems theory I have come to believe that nothing makes sense in isolation, and that there's no such thing as nothing. And hence what, really, is zero?

So this is my current reading on consciousness. It is the 'ground' of all being, but can't perceive anything without the mess of probability 'reality' would be without it. Consciousness is Universe's ordering principal, it's antientropy device if you like, but there needs to be stuff to be ordered. And everything is imbued with it, even stones. Consciousness relating with probability is where matter and energy come in. Consciousness 'creates' or perceives order out of, or collapses via perception of infinite probability and 'transforms' it into our 'reality'. This is straight from Amit Goswami. It makes sense to me. As to the Why? of this, I haven't got a clue. But the effect is 'progress' and change. Or, creativity. And all that without free will in the ego-based way we think of that phenomenon.

Separation is the emergence of the ego, which is an 'essential' step towards deeper understanding, which is Universe continuing to explore itself. We are Universe as much as stars are, or grass, or wind. Without separation, without ego, you have undifferentiated humans incapable of empathy. Jeremy Rifkin's "The Empathic Civilization" is really good on this. You can't empathize with others unless there is an Other. That requires separation. Unless we cause ourselves to think of ourselves as distinct and discreet we can't get to empathy. And yet that separation is painful and initiates the dreams of the return to the source, as in The Garden of Eden, the apple of knowledge, shame, and all that stuff. That's the process we've been going through these last 10+ millennia, and which we follow in our individual lives, from womb to death.

So to me it's not about return, but about new arrivals in old territory. I'm a stranger to my old home, England. It feels like a holiday destination to me. And should humanity recognize the nature of its trajectory the Age of Reunion will begin like a romance and feel like a holiday. That this too will become formalized and routine will be part of the phases of the next stage. And on and on.

My 2 cents.

Debra said...

Last night my husband and I watched Malkin's "The New World".
The film is really good at showing the meeting of New World and the Old World cultures, and what happens when REAL alterity emerges. (Our globalized civilization is destroying alterity at light speed these days.) The contrast between TRADITIONAL Indian societies, and English society under James I is painful to observe, though Malkin is thoughtful enough to NOT portray Indian society as THE GARDEN. Which would be a way of REDUCING IT to our still potent Christian mythology ?.
I am struck by how different you sound, Toby, when you talk about money, and in your poems.
I think that I like the Toby in your poems better than the Toby who talks about money, or I should say, you sound more alive to me in your poems than when you talk about money. MAYBE IT HAS SOMETHING TO DO WITH THE (SUBJECT) MATTER ??
We saw Rupert Goold's (no joke..) production of "The Merchant of Venice" at the RSC at Stratford on Avon while on vacation. (No pools for me.)
It was vile.
Set in Las Vegas, with Portia and Nerissa bedecked with Texas accents, and Bassanio sounding like a earnest young trader in his pressed polyester suit and crew cut, emitting monosyllables and grunts in staccato fashion.
Rupert Goold even managed to destroy William's POETRY.
I booed the performance. Something that not many people DARE TO DO these days in their need to not say one word louder than the next.
I think that Western society is hell bent on destroying the ORGANIC NATURE of consciousness, out of sheer collective spitefulness about not being able to control the creation, LIKE GOD.
This makes me unbelievably sad. AND ANGRY.
I am light years away from mainstream society now AND STILL GOING....

Toby said...

"I am light years away from mainstream society now AND STILL GOING.... "

I know that feeling! Great line, by the way.

Alterity was new to me, so I looked it up: "otherness". I think that's a very complex topic. On the one hand we have homogeneity and mass production, as demanded by Money the God; on the other we have a growing awareness that we are not so Other after all, alongside a growing desire to embrace and celebrate the beauty of diversity. I'd certainly like to hear more of your thinking on this.

As to the me that emerges from my poetry, yes, it's the subject matter I guess, or rather the freedom to be creative with the angle. The poems I publish here are about the way I see money and its attendant effects and ramifications. When I write dryly about money that's just my intellect at work, with squirts of intuition in there. And I do go on and on about it. At least poems are short!

Debra said...

Great to exchange again with you Toby. Our exchanges are priceless to me.