Wednesday, March 18, 2015 2:30 PM
The Lines Are Cut
Reason is a shifty shibboleth.
We read a sharing in each other’s eyes,
But groups of thoughts shared
Is hardly all thoughts agreed upon
And taste or preference also split
The join of we who would cohere.
Distraction, syntax, stumblings all
Trouble all the hawsers thrown
To draw our hulls together.
Eternally we drift, unitary, unconnected.
We long for nightfall, when Nature herself
Will cause our ships to finally,
Briefly bump together.
I was reading “Alan Turing: Enigma”, the book which “The Imitation Game” is based upon. I’d reached the part where Turing was returning from one of his trips to America in his wartime role as liaison between British and American cryptanalysts. The author describes how the ship carried thousands of servicemen, hundreds of officers—and one civilian. After years of working to uncover the hidden German U-boat wolf-packs that harried the Allied convoys, Turing was in the uncomfortable position of being one of that throng of helpless passengers he had tried to rescue. A boat just like the one he was on had been sunk just two weeks earlier. The Germans had made so many U-boats that even after the Enigma was decoded and their locations were known (with greater accuracy than known by the Nazi high command) their sheer weight of numbers continued the Atlantic sinkings for over a year.
Alan Turing’s difficulties made me ashamed of my petty post from yesterday, where I had boasted of my learning and experience. I should know better than anyone that reason often overturns such peripheral details as learning and experience—I should have been railing against the small-minded arguments of those who don’t even make a decent effort to ‘pierce the veil’. That’s what my ‘rantings’ posts usually do, but I thought focusing on why I had a good grasp of things would be a more positive approach. It didn’t work out that way—if someone else had written yesterday’s post, I would disagree with almost all of it.
No one makes a big deal out of declaring themselves to be an idiot. But in a weird symmetry, people of intelligence and education can’t claim that they’re smart, either—at least, not without making themselves look stupid. You can’t brag about being smart any more than you can brag about being tall—sure, tall people and smart people might have a clearer view than most people, but that’s just the luck of the draw. And this led me to contemplate the futility of communication, both public and one-on-one. It’s too bad we use the same system to express our feelings and share our information—they get in each other’s way.
But, anyway, the result of all this moping was a poem, or rather a first line and an idea for a poem came into my head. I’ve never learned to write and think as clearly at a keyboard-and-screen as when I’m writing with pen-and-paper—I only type my poems into my “digital storage unit” afterward. The finished product is displayed above.
On my way to the workstation, I passed the piano—so, I stopped and recorded a piano improvisation along the way. I’ve named it after the poem—they certainly share a frame-of-mind, so why not?