Sheathed in prophylactic | body & conscience

It may appear that i am a Neo-Luddite proselytizing an impending apocalypse of human consciousness as it becomes absorbed into the devices sold it by the great Silicon Overlords (Overloads?). But i am not, really.
i am not religious, though may be along the lines of what Shelley said (as i seem to remember he says somewhere) when he expresses that he was profoundly religious. As Kenneth Burke said to a Communist Writing Conference in 1935, the worker should be replaced by the people. Nobody wants their fate to be a cog in a machine. Marxism, according to Burke, should borrow something from religion, owing to the root meaning of religion, from religare meaning a “binding together of people.” & isn’t this what tech promises? But is it delivering our humanity, or making us a cog in its apparatus?
i am not particularly fond, nor am i against tech. It interests me in no other way than as a phenomenon that expresses something about us.
There is something tugging me to it as a metaphor, a replacement for the poet who is moving from religious & pantheistic speculations, into a world in which these matters struggle to the fore in their own wardrobe & rather dress themselves in another’s, incapable of hiding themselves entirely, the parapraxes of their inherent character bubbling to the surface in anticipation, in hope of being found out.
There is only the human to figure in this; nature, nor God says much without personification & systems of power that invest interest in the pursuit of correction or faith.
These days, in my poems, there is something of a will-to-get-to-grips with the modern problem of conditioned reflexes of the psyche, of the things that are currently appearing & happening.
i don’t want to change anything, or rather, i do not presume to be able to change anything with a line, stanza, poem or even collection; neither do i want to, as such, speculate to make advances; i only want to be a witness of my time & let others judge the standard.
i get the feeling at times that people who don’t write poetry seem to assume we all want to make alterations to the regulating systems of society, to be a branch in the spokes, that we think our way is a way to make advanced decisions; this is seldom, if ever the case.
The poet observes & alters only what is perceived, into a format at once both at odds & in cahoots with a certain method of looking & converting, which a few train or are just able to do. There is something of an elitism, but not because we are better, but only because we chose to invest more of ourselves in one method of creating culture with art. Poetry doesn’t have to be a universal medium, though it can be, same as any other creative medium.
Does that make sense as a brief expression of my intent? Or have i just said a lot of words which seem to be an effort to make myself look clued in? Should i just shut up & get to the poetry? Be honest, & perhaps we can discuss this effort. i do think transparency of intent is important though, if only to lessen the mystery of communication through art.

Sheathed in prophylactic | body & conscience
—nothing gets in nor out
not the old woman hit by a car |
the magpie that broke its neck on the billboard
thinking it was just sky—nothing.

Once upon a time God saw all this
but He’s got all preoccupied or | dead.
“Now the algorithm took his job & it’s doing fine”
—Google knows no matter your discretion
your face to face cautions.

The head of the mob is bowed |
their chins lit not by
buttercups | nodeenodee no no NO!
Not by a vegetative thing | no carrots
stuffed with LED or

halogen kelp.— “Do you think
it’s morally correct to
program wires | chips & silicon into a God?
To have our mathematics play
guess who/what | & commit psychometric tests

to memory?” Knock…knock…

10 thoughts on “Sheathed in prophylactic | body & conscience

  1. …And we are conditioned to respond with a playful, “Who’s there?” Even when the answer may be far more grim than the joke would suggest.
    “but He’s got all preoccupied or | dead.”
    But this is the saving grace of poetry: to break those chains of conditioning, to hear words and ideas strung together as never before, pulling on our heart and whatever else makes us distinctly human, to express that which only we as humans are capable.

    1. How much arises from that playful questioning though? Whole careers & all the in between time of contemplation, i’d be lost without it regardless of my sitting on the fence with my binoculars. It all began for me with wondering why Blake would condone apocalypse, that sent me on a peculiar trip.

      Lately it never ceases to astonish me what it means to be human. If you stop believing or putting all your eggs in one basket & just observe it all, the likelihood, the sheer oddness of it all is revealed & it really is something to marvel at. But it takes context & the demarcations of a poem are ideal for framing this context as it is a comfortable medium for dashing from one point to an entirely other, which are linked subtly with perhaps just the fine thread of a word or symbol.
      From a young age, for me, poetry just seemed to be capable of doing something other art forms can’t. i still can’t quite put my finger on what, exactly. There is so much instinct tied up with it, which doesn’t always sit well with me, thus my reason to be as transparent as possible. Seeing as i can’t ignore the pull of the instinctual side, i at least hope to convey something of its source & effects as best i can.

  2. “The poet observes & alters only what is perceived.” I think I can relate to that, and not just in creative mediums. My experience in science is that we also observe and understand what is perceived, until every once in a while someone truly clever changes the paradigm.

    I like the idea of the understanding some tech as trying to be a religion of some sorts. Question is, do we (mainly athesists) innately want to be binded together nowadays in absence of an organised religion, is that more ingrained unconsciously into human nature than we think it is? I can imagine many years from now people who are offline and unplugged to the internet will be somewhat ostracised like a non-believer of a religion. I mean, I already do jokingly mock one of my friend’s flip-phone from a decade ago 🙂

    1. I think the double slit experiment & entanglement have taught us quite a bit about the observer & the observed, am i right?

      It seems to me an inevitability that one system of binding would replace another. We are social animals, we may desire periods of loneliness to do certain things but we (on the whole) yearn to return to a group to share our discoveries or just be away from our pursuits awhile.
      It can’t be coincidence that a lot of tech people are interested in yoga & eastern philosophy, the new Apple HQ boasts a 2 storey yoga room.

      That’s a valid analogy: the offline, unplugged as non-believers.

      1. Correct, the act of observation itself is indeed a very intrinsic concept in quantum mechanics.

        Yes that may be true. My experience with using instagram for a bit (or other photo-sharing platforms) is that it is very prune to turning photographers into copies and so you’ve got to exercise some control, otherwise your photos unconsciously end up looking like everyone else’s because those ones “get more likes”. This is a surprisingly unconscious phenomenon so the best way to avoid it is probably to just not use it for a while.
        ha! i didn’t know that, i just heard some people were injured walking into the new apple hq because they didn’t see the transparent glass..

  3. Another wonderful can of worms, Daniel. I am tempted to write my manifesto, but it may be premature.😄 For me, it is all very human. Physicists do their mathematics, programmers do their programming, philosophers do their philosophy, it moves into the public arena, we imagine that every specialist can speak outside their area, that the media want to do something apart from startle and amaze us, and it all gets mixed together. My concerns about the future only relate to humans (despite once having a near miss with a welding robot).

    1. A manifesto can be something that shifts as you change organically. i think even a couple of years ago my intentions would have been different. Sometimes it takes just a single experience, perhaps a particularly influential book to change my trajectory, perhaps not entirely, but certainly to a marked degree.

      i don’t mind the branching as long as their is some containment, that it meets context requirements. Like Jung said, his job as an analytical psychologist was tied up with numerous other courses of study, the human mind created theology, philosophy, in fact all the subjects of man & they inform our mental worlds, all their anxieties, so the psychologist cannot brush these aside if they want to treat their patient. Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s list of requirements for a good poet are a the length of a human leg. Regardless, there is still the core to the constellation, which draws focus. It is important to maintain a certain focus to this core, else especially as a poet, you can start to sound preachy, which for me at least, doesn’t equate to poetry. But then i suppose it amounts to if you believe art should be used as a tool for direct moral didacticism, for requiting; i don’t necessarily think this is the poet’s role.

      1. I have to admit that I don’t actually have a manifesto, obut maybe I do have a collection of ideas and as you say, they change. More often than I’d like I decide that certain of my beliefs are wrong, and I discard them. Yes I agree completely about the core, being preachy is dangerous, perhaps because it is not heartfelt and it can tend to be didactic which attempts to create a difference in levels between the writer and the reader, which is the opposite of the empathy and connection that I think is needed. I guess great art can teach a moral lesson, but is that what makes it great? Or perhaps if it is truly an expression of the artist’s heartfelt beliefs, then maybe it’s something different, not a tool, but an empathic connection.

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