Back on my hobbyhorse again

This morning my thoughts are itching to break from their places in the procession, to spin off, to dance, to swim, to soar, to climb walls, to descend into subterranean passages. Paradigmatic thinking is too little, narrative thinking too much. That’s why I keep coming back to poetry: at its best, it’s a way of letting thoughts be, loosening the heart and the tongue. Implicit in the neat division of thinking into rational and non-rational is the notion of order as something necessary to understanding. Cogito, ergo sum. But how does the dream of self-consistency play out? We wake up, sticky with fluids. Or the happily-ever-after: we wake up in the arms of the Beloved.

We confuse categories when we talk about natural laws. What does it mean to have a law that cannot be broken? Anything that doesn’t fit this fundamental paradigm is “supernatural,” “paranormal.” Two equally tautological choices present themselves: either we simply lack the appropriate hermeneutic key by which to explain away all apparently supernatural phenomena, or else there is some parallel order – existing in our minds and/or another dimension, perhaps – of which the supernatural is a part. Neither alternative admits the possibility that Nature is inherently recondite.

Paradigms are nets: something will always slip though. Narratives are maps: endlessly inventive, selective by design. Our minds dictate, suppress, deny, impose themselves on a world that continually rebels because it has its own ideas. In the prayer, in the poem, in the unforced performance of all necessary and superfluous work things try to speak themselves through us. The so-called creator is both medium and mediator. Cultivating awareness of this role involves us in a game whose rules, often of our own apparent invention, are constantly changing (think “Calvinball,” from the comic strip Calvin and Hobbes). We are mapmakers; we are weavers of nets and matrices. Logic and narrative go together like bitter and sweet – they flavor the game. Among other things . . .

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