7.27.2006

revised poem #4 (or, "one thing at a time")

i am still struggling to feel creative lately. as such, these revisions are too slow in coming, but here is another start at it...

poem #4

1. Prologue: Mayday

There are days, even in Mays,
when winter's embrace has loosened
and the sun is still trying to return
and the neighbors are starting to burn charcoal again,
days when summer's true warmth in June, July, August,
is still too distant,
days when i'd rather be doing something,
anything but whatever i'm doing,
days when, because the darkness of winter
did not quite close the door
on its way out,
i cannot make myself lift pen or pad.

Fortunately, today was not one of those days.

Today has not been all that bad, really,
though its light was tinted by the memory
and the fear of those glooming days
looming ahead, just as behind,
if only in my mind

2. Haiku: Sunset


sunset-lit streetlights
are hard to see or obey-
yellow red or green

3. Epilogue: Sunrise

The next day, the sun is bright
and the darkened patches of blacktop
in the parking lot are shrinking
and the leaves on the oak outside my window
and the greening grass
and the concrete sidewalk across the street
are all a bit too crisp in my sight.
I rise from my bed with the sun
-a bright orange sentence's capital "T",
always leaning, gleaming toward yellow "HE"-
thinking, "Yes."

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7.17.2006

the other blog

i don't know how this will all go down yet, but i've started another blog. take a look, and add it to your favorites, because you know it already is.

i hope to maintain both, but as i say, we shall see what we shall see.

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7.12.2006

article of lunch - 7.12

Going Long: In the new “long tail” marketplace, has the blockbuster met its match?
by John Cassidy (also, coincidentally, in my most recent issue of The New Yorker)


I like to think of McWorld vs. Niche World: This Time, It's Personal

Also, a very good post at if:book, which reminded me of, and linked to, the above article: the myth of universal knowledge 2: hyper-nodes and one-way flows

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7.11.2006

revised poems #1-3

i'm finally getting around to revising last month's poems. i did these three last night, and it almost killed me. as it goes in revision, i am simultaneously more and less sure of these versions of the poems.

more to come soon.

1. "fatigue"

i know no fatigue like my daughter's cries
3 a.m. wednesday morning
after a thirteen hour day.
thursday morning, rather, wednesday night,
the red block-numbers on the clock face
do not blink: 3-thirteen
and dreaming of dreaming
and holding, with all of my might,
my daughter up, my eyes barely open.
she will not need to feed
for two more hours,
and she will not stop.
she does not know that i could cry
as she is crying,
that together, we would never stop.


2. "Sacrifice"

i. Prelude

I cannot think of what a poem is
just now: sunset or sunrise?
Days gone past, or days ahead?
What did he say,
what color were her eyes?
I cannot think of what a poem is, today.

ii. Sacrifice

The flames flicked, licked
at her calves, thighs, waist.
Orange dawn was still a fresh taste,
whetted with smoke and the birth of fire.
I would stay until I smelled only ash
and crisp flesh, and longer.
She was a martyr, and her eyes were blue.
She said it was the only thing to do,
and she said that death is good.
As the wood began to catch
the man next to me, just to my left,
began crying out: "Witch! Wiiiitch!"
And I held my breath.
I thought of the secrets I alone now kept.
I closed my eyes and wept.


3. "warmish afternoon"

on a warmish afternoon,
like oranges peeled carefully, slices dripping
and eating section by section, juices dripping,
we made love
under the oak by the short stone wall
in the far corner of her parents' back 40.
after, when we were sprawled out
on our backs in the grass,
she let a moment pass
before she rolled onto her side,
leaned toward me and sighed,
and asked me.
we were married the next spring
under the oak by the short stone wall,
before our families and the section of trunk
on which we'd carved our initials
above the date.

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article of lunch - 7.11 "faire montrer"

Forging Ahead in Moscow, by Kim Murphy

"Every Russian must ford a river of flimflam, much of which is tolerated because it makes everyone's life, for the most part, cheaper and more manageable than the real thing."

Also, Belledame at Fetch me my axe, has an interesting discussion going on regarding religion/spirituality. I can't exactly say how much I agree with what is being said, but that's why I love discussion.

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7.03.2006

article of lunch - 7.3

(and yes, i will get to the revision of last month's poems soon enough. we had a rather busy weekend, which left, sadly, little time to be spared on poetry)

The Myth of Secular Moral Chaos by Sam Harris.

I came to this article a roundabout way, but it infuriated me enough to warrant mentioning. That said, I will preface my remarks - which I hope to be brief - by saying that the transparent animosity Harris harbors toward religion (and, it would seem, especially Christianity) is unnecessary and has no place in the sort of intellectual discussion of which he (along with me and many others) is so fond. Appealing to emotion is not only a logical fallacy, it smells of rank amateurism and just plain bad taste.

Harris makes 3 points, the sum of which he supposes sufficient to debunk the idea that, in his words, "Raping and killing children can only really be wrong... if there is a God who says it is." Herein lies my first problem with this article, and I have only read two sentences. If you are going to phrase the opposition's argument, please be respectful enough to do so in a mannar free of emotional baggage, no matter your personal feelings. Nice guy that I am, though, I'll let that one slide. On to point #1.

"1. If a book like the Bible were the only reliable blueprint for human decency that we had, it would be impossible (both practically and logically) to criticize it in moral terms. But it is extraordinarily easy to criticize the morality one finds in the Bible, as most of it is simply odious and incompatible with a civil society."

I can almost hear him typing out Old Testament references as I read the above sentences. I will not break this down here, as I do not have the time, inclination, or proper understanding myself. However, I believe that Harris is clearly in possession of even less understanding on this one. I point you to
this article for a decent overview of this particular issue. Simply put, not all OT laws are given equal weight. Moral laws are anchored to an unwavering ideal throughout the Bible, but the ceremonial and civil laws are not similarly tied.

As an aside, I offer this sentence: "As a source of objective morality, the Bible is one of the worst books we have." No kidding. The Bible is not a source of objective morality; it is a source of subjective morality. Morality in the Bible is subject to the nature of its God. Had Harris an understanding of that, the rest of the text under this point would not have been written, and as such will not be mentioned here.

Point #2

"2. If religion were necessary for morality, there should be some evidence that atheists are less moral than believers."

Harris states, in development of this point, "For centuries, Christian Europeans had viewed the Jews as the worst species of heretics and attributed every societal ill to their continued presence among the faithful." O.k., but were those Christians correct in said attribution? No. Moving on...

Further, "Leaving aside the issue of cause and effect, these facts prove that atheism is perfectly compatible with the basic aspirations of a civil society; they also prove, conclusively, that religious faith does nothing to ensure a society’s health." Let's think about this one. Perfect systems practiced imperfectly are not likely to live up to their potential. It is true that faith, of any variety, has no direct impact on the health of a society. It is, instead, the correct enaction of the ideals of a faith (specifically of the Christian faith, in response to Harris and in light of my beliefs) that is able to change a society for the better. Perhaps I'm splitting hairs, but a civil society is not necessarily (and, I would argue, a long way from being) a moral society. Too, even a moral society is all-too-often fraught with the perils of the dubious nature of humanity. Seems to me Harris is getting a tad loosey-goosey with his concepts.

Point #3.

"3. If religion really provided the only conceivable objective basis for morality, it should be impossible to posit a nontheistic objective basis for morality. But it is not impossible; it is rather easy."

"Clearly, we can think of objective sources of moral order that do not require the existence of a law-giving God. In The End of Faith, I argued that questions of morality are really questions about happiness and suffering." Again, Harris needs to tighten the screws a bit. Morality is generally agreed to deal in terms of right/wrong, good/evil, etc. Happiness and suffering are, in my estimation, one important step removed from such considerations, existing only in the realm of the purely physical. In a way, then, Harris is right: if you don't consider good/evil as factors in moral judgment, then you certainly don't need a God as a moral anchor. But then, if you change the accepted definitions of concepts, you can say argue for pretty much whatever conclusions you'd like. Again, I may be splitting hairs, but I think we all know that's pretty much what philosophy is. My point is, why use up two points arguing against a divine basis for a good/evil morality (especially one particular brand) if you're going to claim that morality isn't even comprised of good/evil to begin with?

To close his article, Harris composed a paragraph containing the following sentences: "One of the greatest challenges facing civilization in the twenty-first century is for human beings to learn to speak about their deepest personal concerns—about ethics, spiritual experience, and the inevitability of human suffering—in ways that are not flagrantly irrational. Nothing stands in the way of this project more than the respect we accord religious faith." I would point out here that nothing stands in the way of rational discussion than irrational animosity that fleshes itself out in poorly constructed attacks against one particular side. Bad form, Mr. Harris. Bad form.

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