Philosophical reality

See more poetry in this category at this site

Contents

1 A cat’s place

2 A fruitful conversation

3 A house built

4 A knowledge test

5 A man’s wealth

6 A letter by a young nobleman to his friend in London

7 A natural thing to do

8 A philosophy of washing dishes

9 A point in time

10 A short period that is forever gone

11 A straight answer

12 A thinker discovers the meaning of life

13 A very compact history

14 Acacia karoo

15 Adam’s career history

16 Am I missing something?

17 An unobserved significance

18 And see the world

19 Are we becoming fast friends?

20 Are you listening?

Ui

 

1

19 October 2010 Phil 3.3

A cat’s place

A cat can reign

over a cushion,

it can stroll negligently through the kitchen,

it can explode into a killing machine,

swipe down a bird’s attempt at flight,

it can converse at night

with the underworld, in words

and sounds that make you cower,

it can add furry touches

to your dreams,

sleeping at your feet,

it can sit illegally

on top of the cupboard,

staring you down;

it can be in each

of the places, one at a time,

it cannot be in two at the same time –

except Schrödinger’s cat.

Schrödinger’s Cat: A cat, along with a flask containing a poison and a radioactive source, is placed in a sealed box shielded against environmentally induced quantum decoherence. If an internal Geiger counter detects radiation, the flask is shattered, releasing the poison that kills the cat. The Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics implies that after a while, the cat is simultaneously alive and dead. Yet, when we look in the box, we see the cat either alive or dead, not both alive and dead.

………..

2

5 August 2009 -0.6

A fruitful conversation      PR

The pawpaw turned slowly around

to fix his gaze

on the sour expression

of his friend,

the lemon.

If it is true

what you’re saying,

said the pawpaw in his fruity voice

we should suit each other very well.

Yes, you have too much

of the joys of life,

the sweet wonders

of pleasant emotions,

the flavours of satisfaction,

the lemon growled.

And you can tone these down?

the pawpaw asked

with indulgent patience.

With my wit, yes,

the tartness of my tongue;

when my creative juices flow,

you will learn to understand

that pleasure needs pain,

to come into its own.

……………

3

5 April 2013 Phil 2.3

A house built

The hammer hits the nail.

Energy drives the nail

deeper.

Some energy

turns into heat

which quickly disappears

from the hammer

and the nail

into the air.

A man builds his house.

Energy from his body

creates a home;

he takes a wife.

Children receive their energy.

They live in the house.

Their hands

will hold hammers

in time.

…..

4

6 February 2012 Phil  – 1.6

A knowledge test

I do not know

how ants communicate –

yes, by touching feelers

and releasing chemicals –

but what do they really say to each other?

Neither do I know

what makes my car’s engine run –

okay, the sparks from the plugs

ignite the petrol fumes –

but what is electricity really?

I have no idea

what I mean when I say

honey is sweet, the night is black,

water is wet, plants breathe,

there is a pain in my foot, or some people

have conversations with angels.

I am innocent of knowledge

about the right to live,

the wrong decision about an investment,

a fitting way to die.

It seems there are few things I know,

in fact, I cannot think  of a single one;

can you?

But, of course,

I have no idea

what you are thinking.

………..

5

13 December 2011 Phil 2.1

A man’s wealth

Throughout his life

he collected sticks

to get hold

of what he needed,

to defend himself

against aggression

from others.

A stick to collect food,

a stick to beat a path,

a stick to impress a woman,

a stick to rule his children.

He had a large collection of sticks,

old and new,

each effective in its own way.

At last he held on to only one

to lean on

when he had to cross the Styx.

But in the end

he had to leave

that behind as well.

…………

6

26 February 2009 1.4

A letter by a young nobleman to his friend in London

My dear Gregory,

The Holy Land has revealed

secrets to me

that cause me a pleasure

that vies with the joy

I feel treading on the ground

on which our Lord Saviour has trodden.

I fell into conversation

with one of the captured heathen,

now a slave of my lord Travaille.

He showed me how you can arrange numbers

in patterns that give astounding answers.

He discovered in this way

that the courtyard of my lord’s estate

can be filled by one hundred and fifty

stout archers lying down.

At first I thought

it was pernicious heathen abra ca dabra,

but I have come to the conclusion,

after having seen more

of the slave’s working with numbers,

that I will be able to do my lord a service

by learning from this slave

the art he calls al-gabr, or algebra.

………..

7

16 October 2013 1.9

A natural thing to do

Giotto started to draw

from nature,

one of the first

to do so.

His saints looked like men

and his Mother Mary

like a woman,

Jesus was a baby.

But is it natural for a man

to be a saint?

Why would one sacrifice

so much

to benefit other people?

Is that similar

to the suicide bomber

who kills in order to save?

Giotto painted from nature,

but he carefully chose

which small part of nature

he considered important.

………….

8

A philosophy of washing dishes 1.8

He was a man

but he felt he was a philosopher

by imbrication.

Firstly there was his soma

which fortunately functioned rather well,

and attached to that

with unknown threads,

akin to waves that could be particles,

all depending on how you think about it:

his intellect.

Layered over that,

stretching thin over the hard parts,

there was his psyche,

which, after washing its face,

called itself the soul,

or putting on a solemn expression

took the name of spirit;

and when it fell into a literary mood

or a Freudian frame of mind,

it opened its door to the world

as consciousness.

And to top it all

he had his own way

to wash the dishes:

stacking heavy saucepans

on top of delicate glasses,

to his wife’s great annoyance.

Annotation

so·ma1     Audio Help   [soh-muh] Pronunciation Key

–noun, plural -ma·ta     Audio Help   [-muh-tuh] Pronunciation Key, -mas. Biology.

[Origin: 1830–40; < NL < Gk sôma body ]

…………..

9

14 January 2013 2.0

A point in in time

Take a look at your hands.

What have they done?

The fingers have held

the flint

to make an arrowhead.

The hands poured iron into a mould

to make a sword, later a gun barrel.

They put together machinery

that ran on wheels

across the continents.

The hands fit together

thousands upon thousands of parts

to let you fly

high over the land.

You hit somebody with your hands,

you caressed with your fingers.

They can move gently

over strings

to make music that brings tears.

Your hands have been dirty,

you have cleaned your hands

many times.

Now you point with your finger

into the moving smoke of time.

You follow

your finger.

……….

10

5 Aug 2013 Phil -1.2

A short period that is forever gone

Time slowly pulls of

his shirt;

his brutal torso

shines with sweat,

it is time

to exercise in the gym

of my mind;

he spends energy

like the rampant lust

of a minotaur.

Then he showers

and puts on his glasses;

now it is time

to jostle my thoughts,

shout at them as they skittle past:

faster!

Time runs out

himself

and I stare at the advertisement –

nothing moves,

nothing sounds,

there is no time;

the advertisement is the universe,

and all the crowded emptiness

beyond:

“If you are what you eat,

you are …”

the advertisement is incomplete,

time as well.

11

4 December 2013 Phil 2.4

A straight answer

Roundness had to be solved,

the task group determined.

The group consisted

of philosophers, scientists, chefs, engineers, students,

cabinet makers, programmers, detectives, gamesters,

laymen and women, priests and various other

types of thinkers.

A chef came up with the first concept.

She held up a grape and said:

this is round.

Careful measurements were made

by the scientists and engineers

and long discussions were held.

The conclusion was

that the grape had aspects of roundness

but was not in itself

a perfect example of roundness.

A cabinet maker then put a square

cabinet leg on the table and pointed:

this is round.

Asked to justify this,

he picked up the leg

and traced his finger around it.

I started here, he said,

and end up here again –

that is round.

More discussions followed,

measurements made and experiments launched.

In the end it was concluded

that the leg had aspects of roundness

but that it was not truly round.

A student then stepped forward and diffidently

placed a ruler on the table.

Everybody looked at him.

He swallowed and said almost inaudibly:

That is round.

After the uproar that ensued had died down,

the chairperson of the group,

a Nobel Prize laureate,

asked how the student jutified

his assertion.

The student turned red

and cleared his throat.

Well, he said, er …

if you extend the ruler

and keep extending it,

you will eventually get to the beginning of it.

Try it.

They are still

at it.

12

4 December 2013 Phil 2.4

A straight answer

Roundness had to be solved,

the task group determined.

The group consisted

of philosophers, scientists, chefs, engineers, students,

cabinet makers, programmers, detectives, gamesters,

laymen and women, priests and various other

types of thinkers.

A chef came up with the first concept.

She held up a grape and said:

this is round.

Careful measurements were made

by the scientists and engineers

and long discussions were held.

The conclusion was

that the grape had aspects of roundness

but was not in itself

a perfect example of roundness.

A cabinet maker then put a square

cabinet leg on the table and pointed:

this is round.

Asked to justify this,

he picked up the leg

and traced his finger around it.

I started here, he said,

and end up here again –

that is round.

More discussions followed,

measurements made and experiments launched.

In the end it was concluded

that the leg had aspects of roundness

but that it was not truly round.

A student then stepped forward and diffidently

placed a ruler on the table.

Everybody looked at him.

He swallowed and said almost inaudibly:

That is round.

After the uproar that ensued had died down,

the chairperson of the group,

a Nobel Prize laureate,

asked how the student jutified

his assertion.

The student turned red

and cleared his throat.

Well, he said, er …

if you extend the ruler

and keep extending it,

you will eventually get to the beginning of it.

Try it.

They are still

at it.

13

13 August 2010 Phil 0.8

A very compact history with a bit of future attached

To create an earth

you need to prod together

a certain amount of gaseous material

hurtling in the orbit

of a new sun.

Use gravity to slowly roll

this mass into a ball.

Make sure you have enough

of the heavy elements, especially iron.

Condense the ball

into a solid centre of nickel iron

surrounded by several layers

of viscous rock of various densities.

Allow to cool

until water can flow on the surface,

add some more water from meteors

and other left-overs.

Prod into life

cocky little animals that breathe hydrogen sulphide

and let them fight it out

for a few billion years

until a new type,

surreptitiously sniffing oxygen, arrives.

Build your future on these characters.

Look away for a brief eternity

and then take a good look again.

They’ve developed chest hair, thumbnails,

appendices, useless little tails buried in muscle,

ear-wax, pimples, knees and brains.

They are riding their sliding continents,

shouting exuberantly, pulling faces at each other.

A thick pall of thought processes

hangs over their cities;

their words twitter incessantly

in electro-magnetic waves, in air waves.

They cannot stop.

The earth will not stop turning

soon.

14

28 December 2011 Phil   2.5

Acacia karoo

Sway –

that I can do,

and draw

water and foods

from the earth;

breathe in the air.

I grow;

my heavy trunk,

my many  small leaves,

green,

puffy little yellow  flowers

that turn into brown pods

with seeds

one exactly like the other.

I sway in the wind

but I stay,

here I am,

touch my body –

you touch heaven

and earth

a corpus mundi.

15

11 Juy 2011 PR 2.8

Adam’s career history

The full-time human being,

a male, in fact,

understood his body fairly well.

Some parts were very old,

original to a great extent:

the ancient part of the brain,

folded neatly into the medulla;

the cores of his bones,

the basic muscles

of his heart,

the inner layers

of his intestines.

Other parts were short-lived,

consumed like fuel:

blood cells, red and white,

epithelial cells in mucous membranes

and those continuously flaking off his skin.

Perhaps the most stable pat of him

was his genetic pattern.

He once hunted and fled

in the African grasslands,

he lived in the trees,

and much earlier among the cycads and ferns

under the feet of the dinosaurs;

before that he swam in the blood-salty sea,

and in the beginning he was a lonely cell

until wounded

by the snout of a charging sperm.

Now he is a full-time human being;

he had worked himself to the top,

but he wasn’t sure

whether being CEO of the earth

was the job he really deserved.

16

9 August 2011 Phil 1.1

Am I missing something?

I am a giraffe;

my thoughts curl their bluish tongue

around acacia twigs

and pluck them into my mind.

Down my neck, down

into my stomach

where the material

is taken apart biologically.

Some of it is used

to replenish the hardness

of my hooves on the ground,

some to maintain the brown patches

on my hind-quarters.

Some of it cannot be used by me

and is ushered to the outside,

useless to me ; but I worry –

who says dung beetles don’t think,

why are they so happy

down there at my feet?

17

6 December 2013 3.5

An unobserved significance

He had six legs

which he moved adroitly

as he walked across

the window sill.

His antennae swivelled

around and fed data

to his brain.

His eyes had a multitude

of lenses

and he had a very complete picture

of his surroundings.

He stopped

and observed a fragment

of bread

not bigger that the average dust mote.

He lifted it with his mouth parts

and fed it into his mouth.

Perhaps he found it delicious,

but it is impossible to tell,

as he had no vocabulary

to describe his experience.

He was not a CEO of a big company,

nor an elected representative, a bishop,

colonel, professor or violinist.

He was unobserved

by almost everything and everybody.

Yet he had as much meaning

as anything or anybody.

18

21 March Phil 5.2

And see the world

There is nobody in the street

the houses

have no expressions

the sun paints everything

in a thin white

there is nobody in the house

a faint smell of cooking

in the kitchen

a pair of shoes

in the bedroom

point in different directions

there is nobody in the car

it is not locked

a grocery receipt on the seat

a scratch on the dashboard

there is nobody in the shop

a radio leaks light music

an advertising sign goes from green to red

from red to green

there is nobody in the office

the computer has gone to sleep

a drawer is half open

it contains an empty sandwich container

and a pair of scissors

the sunlight is turning

into faded yellow

two streets away

a car drives past

the baby opens his eyes

creating the world.

19

2 April 2012 Phil 0.6

Are we becoming fast friends, or not?

The photographer

had developed a firm friendship

with the sky

on the second Wednesday of the month.

He thought that the blue

was of a unique intensity,

possibly because

of the humidity.

He happily set about

preparing his cameras,

erecting tripods,

smilingly rejecting his urge

to set up lighting equipment.

He thought that he was communicating well

with the elegant streak

of swan-white cloud

just the right distance

above the horizon.

He whistled happily

and decided on a fitting

aperture and shutter speed.

We’re ready my friend!

he called and looked

at his camera’s small black screen.

He got a shock and looked with a feeling

of leaden disappointment

from the screen to his friend the sky.

Friend no more;

the cloud was twisting

into ungainly tatters,

the blue infused with a tinge of grey

from  an unknown source.

The photographer started packing up his cameras.

I was so certain we were friends,

he said in a hurt voice.

is nothing certain then?

20

6 January 2011 PhilR 0.7

Are you listening?

To understand the world

takes some effort

the compiler of crossword puzzles discovered.

There was a direct gaze

from her

which he caught

before her eyes turned away.

Then her left shoulder

moved very subtly

up and down.

She said something

which he ignored

as he concentrated

on her real intentions.

Her hands

danced in front of her

as she spoke,

fingers changing places,

bowing, swaying,

coming to a rigid stop.

Her mouth closed

and her lower lip

drew itself lightly

into a corner.

Then again her eyes looked into his,

for a moment only;

her hand ventured out,

two fingers touched his ear.

You’re not listening, she said.