Saturday, March 8, 2014

Transcending

I recently came across a poem that fails to escape my mind.

"Drawing Hands" by M.C. Escher.
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drawing_Hands)

Transcending

Escher got it right.
Men step down and yet rise up,
the hand is drawn by the hand it draws,
and a woman is poised
on her very own shoulders.

Without you and me this universe is simple,
run with the regularity of a prison.
Galaxies spin along stipulated arcs,
stars collapse at the specified hour,
crows u-turn south and monkeys rut on schedule.

But we, whom the cosmos shaped for a billion years
to fit this place, we know it failed.
For we can reshape,
reach an arm through the bars
and, Escher-like, pull ourselves out.

And while whales feeding on mackerel
are confined forever in the sea,
we climb the waves,
look down from clouds.

~From Look Down From Clouds (Marvin Levine, 1997)

The human condition enables us to create a vision within our minds and to bring that vision to fruition. As Escher depicts in his artwork, we can draw things into existence; we can create something from nothing. This is a marvelous ability -- we can self-transform. And this is a dreadful capability -- we can self-destruct.

Whether marvelous or dreadful, the paradox of hands being able to draw themselves catapults us humans into a realm that is utterly disconnected from the universe -- from the spinning galaxies, the collapsing stars, and the rutting monkeys. We have become so far removed from the natural world.

There are times when I want to set aside my ability to transcend. I just want to be. Not climbing the waves. Not looking down from the clouds. I want to simply exist. As the cosmos intended.

How does this poem speak to you?

2 comments:

  1. You might enjoy the book "I am a Strange Loop"

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