Poemetry: Call Me Nothing

Through the years, my name has changed,

though the font has remained the same.

Handles and labels and appellations

have loved me and left me, cast me to damnation.

I bid you to heed one adjuration:

by letters lost and sandy scripts,

forbid these from your tongue and lips,

and forget epithets of lore:

call me Nothing if not Yours.

Poemetry: She Lies

She laughs and sings and dances in rings.

She writes poems about life and meeting her knight.

She lies.

She smiles and prays for promises made.

She says she’s fine and that she’s alright.

She lies.

She doesn’t feel alone, that she’s on her own.

She doesn’t cut or consider suicide.

She lies.

Petrichor

For the first time in a very long time, I thought about not getting out of bed when I woke up the other day. Slanted, silver light tilted through a gap between my blinds and the window frame, pale and cool as it skittered across the wall above my bed. Was it a minute or an hour that I laid there? Time. Time means nothing more to a grieving heart than cruelty, the cruelty of a river’s piercing chill as it drags you along, not swift enough to drown you and grant an end nor slow enough to escape the current to the safety of the shore.

What made me stand? Was it that slant of light? That sliver of tepid and distant hope, wan and anemic though it was?

Whatever it was compelled me outside and into my backyard. There, the petrichor, cast upon me by a brisk breeze that trailed it along from hollows in the ground where my dog had hunted out a mole, revived me from dormancy. Damp earth saturated my lungs with vitality long forgotten. The dormant seeds, at last, found somewhere to be planted.

How fast they burst into bloom upon touching that soil. Soon, the petrichor had awoken all my senses to the world, and I noticed that my lilac bush had flowered. From the yard, over the driveway, I bounded to the lilacs to smell them. Raindrops that had gathered in their bells poured from them on to my face, snaking through my bearded cheek to my chin and gripping tight to my nose.

Slumber never takes me for long, but I fear I may have the makings of a cerebral narcoleptic. Granted extenuating circumstances are often to blame, but that it happens at all irks me more than a little bit. We wake to a different world every time.

How long will I be awake this time? What world is to come after I sleep again? What vantages are offered in consciousness that sleep cannot bring? Truth. All of sleep is a lie, and in wakening alone does truth peer us in the eyes as we peer back. And what world we see is irrelevant for it is the only one that exists at that time, and what does not exist cannot matter further than whims and ephemeral pleasures.

I don’t want to leave again. To be rent from the world back to dream, to dream and illusion and phantasm. Brigand fingers, surreptitious and versant, peel at my thoughts. Run, please just run. Faster, run faster. Bare your fangs. Isn’t this worth fighting for?

Rising

Easter is here already. And almost now gone. Last year at this time, I had just had a rather large surgery and was in the process of recovering. Now, I am sick again and trying to recover again. More than anything, my mind is filled by a brume that has dissipated for this moment, which is why I am trying to write at the moment.

I think my greatest fear is contained in a question my father asked me when talking to him about a doctor’s visit. He asked me, “What if this is the best it gets?” Dang. I don’t swear anymore but that gets me close. What if how I feel now is the best it gets, and my moments of cognitive function and clarity are contained in one day of each month? It is terrifying. One of my greatest fears come to the forefront really. How can I ever be a writer under such circumstances? Forget even the professional side of the matter, how can I be me?

So much of who I am is intellectual, though by no means all of me nor the majority of me, but a significant portion nonetheless. I thrive on thought and philosophy and dreaming. The me that I alone know, that I keep from others, is becoming unrecognizable at times as the strands I have woven together of my fate become threadbare and close to fraying.

Yet, my past is not something I cling to either as I was reminded earlier this week. Some former friends are having a get-together after about a decade of not seeing me, and invited me. I don’t suppose I will ever quite understand such foolish sentiments so I turned them down. At least this time, I get to choose to be alone. Not that that is true as I now have real friends who have been there for me when I needed them, who visited me in the hospital, who pray for me and love me and count me as family. Funny, and horribly sad, because these former friends were all church friends.

It is best not to cast one’s shadow by yesterday’s sun though. My shadow comes from the light I have today, and I have no desire to return to what pittance of luminance I had before. Perhaps calling it artificial light would have been more accurate.

Ahh, but all of this is has turned it a long rant. Sorry about that. I guess I am not sure what I even want to write. I just wanted to write something, anything.

Well, in any case, Easter has reminded me once more of the hope that I hold aside from all the struggles of life. The hope that even as Christ has risen, I too shall rise. God has given me another year, and to that end, there must be a reason I live. And if He has let me live, then I must believe that I will once more find the abundant life and health and joy that He promises. Hopefully, this is the beginning of my convalescence and I will find my mind stoked to write once more. Until next time, hope you had a lovely Easter.

Intellectual Noblesse Oblige

On ethical matters, the term Noblesse Oblige refers to the concept that those who are privileged ought to help those who are less privileged. Now, as may be guessed from such terminology, this tends to refer primarily to that of an economic and social privilege. What then if we chose to extend this concept to the realm of intellect.

We must, I suppose, consider what constitutes privilege. Privilege is perhaps the wrong term. Are two millionaires — one by birth, one by hard work or ingenuity — equal? No, but does this disqualify either party from such responsibility? Then again, is this obligatory or supererogatory? That is, is it to be demanded of those with much or is it the choice of the individual, neutral if unchosen but good if chosen?

Certainly, from my own standpoint of Christian ethics, this is quite simple to say that it is indeed the responsibility for those who have been given much to share with those who do not have much. But for those who do not adhere to the Christian faith, can anyone demand such a thing? Really, aside from the demands of a deity, can any human demand another do anything? I don’t believe that that is remotely feasible in ethical terms. Noblesse Oblige is a lovely ideal but cannot be forced upon an individual lest it become a form of Communism. No, precisely for that reason, it must remain unchained by necessity.

All of that is perhaps an extensive divagation from the original idea I wanted to consider, which is the concept of Noblesse Oblige including the realm of intellect. Do those who have been gifted with extraordinary intelligence have an obligation, if indeed we are to accept the original concept, to help raise the collective intelligence of humanity?

Then again, does this have to be such a wide-arching concept? Is it to be found in raising the base intelligence by sharing the insights founds or is Noblesse Oblige satisfied by the genius who works towards individual excellence that pushes the boundaries and is then shared with the Intelligentsia alone to disseminate to the rest of mankind? Perhaps both can be true, but the latter relies upon the former’s willingness to be leaned upon to do the “leg work” as it were.

In the end, I guess motivation is perhaps the determining factor. As with most “complete” ethical considerations, it is not merely the outcome of the actions but also the reasoning behind the actions that determines whether it is “good” or “bad”. Is a person seeking power, pride, self-glory or do they act for the sake of helping others? Perhaps they act on simple curiosity, which at the least would most likely fall into a neutral category, though perhaps the lack of thought for others and focus solely upon self-centered desires is less than neutral. That is the problem with ethics though, the waters are murky at best, and if one chooses, they can justify most anything if they possess the ability to pull it through the wringer of logic.

Everything aside, from my own standpoint, the idea of the intellectual elites helping others to gain some greater base of knowledge is a lovely concept. It has many flaws, though. While in general I believe people are far more capable to learn than they choose to dare, capable of truly great feats if they tried a bit harder, it cannot be denied that there are some individuals with a lower capacity of thought, which is not to mention that there are those who are content to remain ignorant. Ignorance truly is bliss.

I have maintained, and will continue to do so, that teaching is amongst the most noble of professions. Teachers are underappreciated, expected to take less money than other professions for performing such a noble service, and treated as disposable. Until we treat those who impart so much into our children and young men and women as valuable, our collective intelligence will never be raised, and the intelligence gap will continue to widen, furthering conflicts between the intelligentsia and the working class. To be realistic, Noblesse Oblige is a beautiful thought, but that is all. We have seen that many of our best and brightest are not interested in sacrificing the allure of money and fame to do what is “noble”. As a society, let us make it worth their while, at least closer to a decent standard of living, to teach and change the world through our youth.

Memories

How much of us — our ipseity and essence as it were —  is contained in our memories? If they were gone, who would we be? Would it be nice to be freed from the ropes of the past or terrifying in the tabula rasa of self at a more advanced age?

Memories seem to embody much of who we consider ourselves to be, holding our beginnings and the steps that led us to who we are now, just as a hiking trail weaving through the woods, and, just the same, would leave us lost if it disappeared behind us. We would find ourselves in the midst of strange surroundings, not knowing how we came to that place and moment.

That, I suppose, leads me to another question, which is how much of our self is tied to other people? Without them, how much of us is left? That depends upon how many others we have made memories with, and on the amount of made memories. There is also the question of quality. Insomuch as there are memories, the value of each varies. That isn’t to say that only the good ones are important or influential, for it is also the worst that are as well. Indeed, the bookends of memories are what we remember and shape us the most.

So much of who we are is determined by our staunchest allies and most nefarious foes. They help to represent our values, of what we stand for and what we stand against. So we tie our values to our memories and to the people we made them with, and they come to embody good and evil in our eyes.

Isn’t that why when a friend acts maliciously, unkindly, cruelly to us that we feel so betrayed? They are virtue itself for us, and virtue has cast us down. Just another illogical part of humanity.

Digressions aside, our memories serve somewhat like judicial precedents in that they make later decisions expedient. Someone gives us something? Good. Someone hits us? Bad. And the memories spark about in our mind during and after the event. Serve to bolster our iron morals. That is until… until a human trebuchet comes and punches a hole through every layer of our fortifications.

In any case, without memories, we are unanchored, adrift in the waves of life. That is not to say that there are not benefits to be had from such things. Only here is the freedom of distant shores and unexplored waters. And it is not only available to those who have no memories or have lost them, but also those who refuse to be chained by them to the ocean floor. Those who choose to make new memories unattached to an anchor, but instead use them as ballast to steady themselves, may find freedom to ride the currents or shun them for their own course.

A beginning… and an end…

Everything is coming to an end. No more. There is no more time, no more reason, no more hope.

Ends are not quite so dreary as my miserable wailing may make them seem, though. Beginnings, aside from the verum primum, always come from ends. Perhaps it could be argued by the more pedantic in this world that the word is a misnomer in most cases, and I guess I would be hard-pressed to disagree. But, then, I digress.

So what am I afraid of? Why does my heart tremble more with each beat? Losing what is left I suppose. Losing that tiny nothingness that seems so great up close yet is diminished by distance as one of the pindrops of light from a star. I am terrified of this being a verum finis. Why does a prince cling to what even he cannot buy? Perhaps precisely because he cannot buy it. Once it has gone, it is gone.

Is a treasure’s value based solely upon its rarity? No. No, that simply cannot be true. It is the relative value to the beholder which determines true value, based not on some market of economic sensibility, but on the insensibility of the heart, on that economy which values based upon love rather than supply. Would Odysseus have traded Penelope’s love for him for her ‘market value’? Never. Not for every treasure in Zeus’ coffers.

So what is the relative value of this treasure to me? I don’t know anymore. Is that dubiety equivalent to nothingness, to worthlessness? No, I don’t think so, but I can’t say that there is any value left with certainty either.

Regardless, it doesn’t matter. The accords have been drawn. The troops marshaled. Whether by pen or pistol, the end is here. Shall there be a new beginning afterwards? Win or lose, forward through the breach. Though, will it be a Pyrrhic victory or a Laevinic defeat? Or perhaps neither. Or perhaps… it makes no difference.