Denis Diderot, the first intellectual advocate for the blind observed: “all abstract sciences are nothing but the study of relations between signs”. By “study” he meant something more than dull, acquisitive method. Paul Feyerabend, the philosopher of science put it this way: “the only principle that does not inhibit progress is: anything goes”. I’m in mind of “anything goes” this morning because poetry at its best breaks containments of sensory lingo and offers anarchic signs–reintroducing us to the astonishing nature of perception. Feyerabend again: “Without a constant misuse of language there cannot be any discovery, any progress.”
When Feyerabend talked about the misuse of language he was calling for resistance to method–and, by turns, hoping for the advancement of serendipity. Crick and Watson discovered the molecular structure of DNA by playing with puzzles. Break your method.
Here are three poems that Feyerabend would have loved:
It was orange as always, when I heard the wind,
Orange it is–the sound of wind in spring
It made the branches swing. It colored every little thing.
It smelled in orange–that sound of wind in spring,
Orange it is–as always–the sudden wind
It kept on getting wilder–its orange on every thing.
I study your statistical method
Your formula sheet is a map of stars
the seahorse’s coordinate system
–Risto Rasa (translated from the Finnish by Stephen Kuusisto)
Pulling a Rowboat Up Among Lake Reeds
In the Ashby reeds it is already night,
though it is still day out on the lake.
Darkness has soaked into the shaded sand.
And how many other darknesses it reminds me of!
The darkness the moment after a child is born,
blood pouring from the animal’s neck,
the slender metal climbing toward the moon.
The sensory world is less acculturated than the narrative and grammatical ones and that is worth celebrating each waking moment.