|"Drawing Hands" by M.C. Escher.|
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?