“Let your soul stand cool and composed before a million universes.”
– Walt Whitman
Poetry is the last thing one probably thinks of when considering the merits and dangers of technology. Researchers conversely fret about whether humans can avoid the tyranny of computer based intelligence in a future stripped of beauty or champion a golden tomorrow of comfort and wonder. Meanwhile, the poetry of now unfolds in grace.
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Life is a breathing poem. Surely, busyness can routinely obliterate the subtle but only from personal perception. The rose remains, un-smelled, unseen, but remain it does, waiting to be greeted by another passerby who has the time for beauty. And it’s not really waiting, because it’s meaning doesn’t depend on being perceived by some other. It already knows itself, in the same timeless way we all essentially do (whether our knowing is conscious or not), and there is mighty meaning in that.
Time is our master, some say. Time allows experience and, within that, the hope for enjoyment and meaning, but there’s only so much of “it” and it’s running out. Each day the mirror reveals an older person inching towards a cliff beyond which lies another chance, or perhaps nothingness. Eternal sleep, some pronounce with a confidence undisturbed by the awkward realization that one can only perceive hours slept in relationship to the wakefulness that enables that very contemplation. Hmn…
“The art challenges the technology, the technology inspires the art.”
John Lasseter, the film producer / director / animator known best for Toy Story, said, “The art challenges the technology, the technology inspires the art.” 1 This presents a possibility of coexistence between hardware and software, the creative potential of marrying art with machinery. And, while researchers place their bets on artificial intelligence or intelligence augmentation, and peer into their digital balls seeking some glimpse of tomorrow, we might, instead… dance! And sing! And compose a sliver of poetry from within ourselves.
And compose a sliver of poetry from within ourselves. Clunk! The sudden weight of climate change and bills to pay lands heavy. Poetry? Who has time for such a frivolous luxury? No one, really, because we’re studying an aspect of life that flourishes beyond time. Consider Blake’s masterpiece:
“Tiger, tiger, burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?”
“Blake was bringing something into this world from another, a sensation of beauty and meaning.”
Care to try figuring out what that means? Instead, we might simply behold the meaning as it is, unfolding word by word, line by line, a meaning that is, organic and alive and formidably beyond our usual human understanding. There’s really no figuring out to do; we can just make of it what we wish; we don’t even need permission! “Tiger, tiger, burning bright.” Let’s assign the tiger to… technology! “Tiger, tiger, burning bright…” Now, how the meaning changes!
“In the forests of the night.” Here comes the future, dark and unknown, but rich with unseen life. Carry on to the next line if you wish, imagining further meaning from these words so gracefully laid down by a master technologist. What, we might ask, was his intention with this poem and what did it mean to him? Was it written to fulfill some contract in order to pay the bills? Ha! That’s a profoundly laughable idea. No, Blake was bringing something into this world from another, a sensation of beauty and meaning to take form not as a symphony or a sunrise or a kiss but as a modest assemblage of words… a poem.
Not all poems come in words. Your life, for instance, is a poem assuming countless forms from moment to moment and day to day. Wednesday it’s a tragedy, by Friday it’s a comedy, and always a love story, sometimes unrequited, sometimes merely fantasy, sometimes fulfilled, and ever hopeful. Tomorrow births from this alchemical chalice via the living technology of consciousness, where the magic of the moment is already achieved and needs no further testing in some lab before release into this world.
Let others fret about the future while we busy ourselves with enjoying the timeless poem of our lives, inhaling the fragrance of heaven wafting into earth, even while the car horns honk and injustice intrudes. It is enough, this poetry of now.
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