Responsive

We dance but without choreography
Meaning flashes then evaporates
An interpretation requires a template
A duet is never more than two solos,
Enmeshed solely through proximity
I move one direction, you another
In stage combat no one gets hurt
The outcome is predetermined
The curtain falls, everyone’s fine
I desire a script, what to do and say
Improvisation frightens me
Each move opens infinite possibilities
A pratfall follows a clumsy stumble
I want the answer, before I ask

(April 2011)

Otherself 2

My skin itches as if something needs to get in,
A constant trend toward a location not here.
Angstroms of ephemera swarm like the hum
Of bees, the chatter of others; but not the bees
Nor the others: I am who I am,
A patchwork facsimile of all I hoped to be,
As are you as well. We are never apart:

Whitman’s atoms, Lennon’s goo goo g’joob,
An interlaced amalgam of each interaction,
Of each handshake, each mumbled explanation
Of the last big game, of her last affair, of god:
Each a part of the tale I tell to myself
When too tired to push back sufficiently
To create space enough to breathe on my own.

(March 2011)

Hermeneutic Circle

“By and By, Lord, By and By”
A.P. Carter

hold hands – – then speak:
I like, or perhaps understand,
that part she told me, so

tomorrow, or the next day, I
tell it again, making it mine
(or at least imparting my shape

to the story she shaped me with)
in order to explain, or define
my self, and thus meaning,

to someone other than her
who perhaps will weave this part
of my heart into her pattern

not that what she said, or I heard
said, was like a rock dropped
through a shattering mirror, yet

a multi-foliate reflection forms
with each person as we listen, so
look into her eyes, then speak.

(December 2010)

No End of Patches

and then he said, or did, or thought
more than he said, or did, or thought
or perhaps less than was remembered
by either him or me upon reflection

thus the endless permutations of then
and when spin like whirligigs
dazzling the kaleidoscope of now
into a frenzy of misunderstandings

he picks up what thread there is
laying here and there upon a ground
and sings a song as he sews
one piece of cloth unto another

and so I sit and long to listen
to things too hard to decipher
snatching after scraps of meaning
made manifest then disappearing

Reflection after an Afternoon Out

I listen to people talk and interpret what they are saying through the lens of my life. I am aware of this; enough of a self-awareness to be able to step away, even if just a bit, to look at myself. As T.S. Eliot wrote, to know where you are you must step away, or more miraculously, you only know what you have to say after you have said it. A line I understood, or at least was befuddled by before I even read it. In high school German it amazed me that with modals german verbs would appear at the end of the sentence. How I wondered did the speaker and listener know what he was talking about if the predicate did not appear until the end of the utterance? I was stunned by the ability of the human mind. Then I made the leap to how could we know what word we were going to say next because we, or at least I, did not think of the words consciously before I said them. At least not that I was aware of.

Now I think about the belief systems which underlie what we say and how we interpret the world. I try to look at my own beliefs fairly frequently, in a spasm of self-eviseraction. I think I am honest with myself, at least as honest as one can be without cowering in shame. I wonder about those who can be so self-assured with how they see the world. The self-satisfaction and hubris is stunning. (Is that statement a victim of its own accusation?). What is really stunning is when they accuse others who criticize them of having the very faults they are being accused of possessing, as if that absolves them of anything. Everything falls easily into place when there is a single dogmatic way to see and live in the world.

Too often listening to others is painful. (Sigh, such self pity).

Can We Build It: Yes, We Can

Finished “The Social Construction of Reality” by Berger and Luckmann yesterday as I waited to go through the jury selection process (talk about a socially constructed reality, the justice system is definitely a “reality” outside the norms I inhabit: but that is for later on in this post, or for another day). I read the book because it and the phrase “Social construction of reality” are tossed about quite a bit in the books I’ve been reading and in the doctoral program I was participating in, sort of on the same level as Vygotsky’s “Zone of Proximal Development.” And like Vygotsky, actually reading the text from which the phrase originates(?), was enlightening and I discovered more to it than is often discussed. The book was published in 1966 and was a discussion of the origins and shaping of “knowledges” in sociology. It takes the view, like James Gee, that everyone is functioning from an ideology, either tacit or implicit, that determines how that person views the world. Furthermore, these ideologies are created and constantly recreated and modified by the people in these social groups, affinity groups Gee would call them. The belief systems are laid down and created by a society, and are inculcated into children by their primary socializers (parents, significant others), and then further modified by secondary groups. Everyone is involved in an overlapping and nested series of groupings which lead toward the individuals identity inside of all of the groups combined, the identity being slightly different depending upon which group is formost at any given time. As I read the book, I saw connections to Shirley Brice Heath’s “Ways with Language,” Gee, as I already mentioned, and in his use of discourses (both big and little D’s), much of what I can glean from my post-modernist readings, as well as in, “Communities of Practice” by Etienne Wenger, Och’s “Living Narrative,” and Goffman’s “The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life:” three of the other books I have been plowing through lately.