Thursday, April 5, 2012

I've discovered a poet new to me

I've discovered a new-to-me poet who's not new but, I think - because of his brilliant poetry - always new. If you like this poem, check out his other work. I'm swept up and away by this poem. 

Ground Birds in Open Country
by Stanley Plumly

They fly up in front of you so suddenly,
tossed, like gravel, by the handful,
kicked like snow or dead leaves into life.
Or if it's spring they break back and forth
like schools of fish silver at the surface,
like the swifts I saw in the hundreds
over the red tile roofs of Assisi—
they made shadows, they changed sunlight,
and at evening, before vespers,
waved back to the blackbird nuns.
My life list is one bird at a time long,
what Roethke calls looking. The eye,
particular for color, remembers when
a treeful would go gray with applause,
in the middle of nowhere, in a one-oak field.
I clapped my hands just for the company.
As one lonely morning, green under glass,
a redwing flew straight at me, its shoulders
slick with rain that hadn't fallen yet.
In the birdbook there, where the names are,
it's always May, and the thing so fixed
we can see it—Cerulean, Blackpoll, Pine.
The time one got into the schoolroom
we didn't know what it was, but it sang,
it sailed along the ceiling on all sides,
and blew back out, wild, still lost,
before any of us, stunned, could shout
it down. And in a hallway once,
a bird went mad, window by locked window,
the hollow echo length of a building.
I picked it up closed inside my hand.
I picked it up and tried to let it go.
They fly up so quickly in front of you,
without names, in the slurred shapes of wings.
Scatter as if shot from twelve-gauge guns.
Or they fly from room to room, from memory
past the future, having already gathered
                in great numbers on the ground.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

"Taker" Culture vs. "Leaver" Culture

I finally figured out how to articulate the essential underlying difference between the "Taker" culture and the "Leaver" culture, as defined by Daniel Quinn in his books, Ishmael and The Story of B: The overarching zeitgeist of the Taker Culture is that everything and everyone is separate and disconnected, while the overarching zeitgeist of the Leaver Culture is that everything is distinctive yet interconnected. Every aspect of these two cultures reflects their overarching zeitgeist.

Each culture reflects its overarching view on "reality" in every aspect of that culture. For example, within the Taker Culture, medicine and "healthcare" are approached by attacking singular, separate symptoms of dis-ease as apposed to respectfully taking care of the whole human being. The "patient" is viewed as an object by the "physician" and has no part in the "healing" process. The "physician" either cuts out the problem (surgery) or drugs the problem (pharmaceuticals) but does not engage the "patient" (object) to change or take responsibility for their health issue(s).

By contrast, a true Leaver Culture views everyone and everything as distinctive yet interconnected. Therefore, medicine and healthcare are seen as a cooperative effort. The patient is a human being who must participate in the healing process. All aspects of the patient's being must be considered in the healing process and time, as well as the body, is respected.

In our society (Taker Culture), we can see that the Taker Culture is, by definition, sociopathic: a person, as a psychopathic personality, whose behavior is antisocial and who lacks a sense of moral responsibility or social conscience.

Within the Taker Culture, it is OK to lie as long as you get away with it, it is OK to abuse others as long as you get away with it, it is OK to steal, cheat, and willfully cause harm to others or their property as long as you get away with it. Getting away with it usually depends on how much money you have to throw at the natural consequences of your abusive behaviors. Poor people get caught and punished, rich people get away with murder. Literally. 

Within the Leaver society, everyone understands that everything (object and action) is interconnected and, therefore, affects the whole of society. If someone acts abusively, everyone suffers. It is understood that to lie, cheat, steal, and act in any other abusive manner means that dis-ease is created within the community and, therefore, will not be tolerated. If the abuser is willing to change, the community may allow the community member to make appropriate recompense for the wrong action and continue to live in the community, humbled but still a vital member of the whole. But if the abuser is not willing to change, that person is cut off from the community for good. 

We can see how the overarching zeitgeist of each type of culture - the Taker Culture and the Leaver Culture - is reflected in every minute aspect of that society, from education to business to political structure, to laws, to religious beliefs, and on and on. 

The Taker Culture breeds dis-ease and psychopathic behaviors by its very underlying essential view. (Psychopathy: a mental disorder in which an individual manifests amoral and antisocial behavior, lack of ability to love or establish meaningful personal relationships, extreme egocentricity,failure to learn from experience, etc.)
The Leaver Culture, by contrast, brings forward a harmonious, respectful presence to the individual and the society as a whole, at ease with itself and with its members. 

Just to add, being a Leaver Culture does not, in any way, mean to be a culture of Luddites or anti-technology supporters. It just means that the undercurrent of the society is that we are all distinctive and interconnected as opposed to separate and disconnected (Taker Culture). 

If you haven't already read Daniel Quinn's Ishmael or The Story of B, I highly recommend them both, and in that order. I have yet to read more of his work but am looking forward to it. He is insightful and revolutionary in his understanding of why our "modern" culture is so very dysfunctional and dissatisfying.