2017-07-21

A blue star rises, and who of us can say

Cultural change is famously the hardest sort of change to achieve, but probably the most important.

Who do we believe we are?  Clearly in the past we have believed some very silly things.

There is a concept in cosmology called the Assumption of Normality.  It says: do not invoke special rules to explain what you see.  They mean that in the sense that: (i) we do experiments here on Earth, and (ii) we look 100,000,000 light-years into the Universe (and hence the past), but (iii) we shouldn't not without really special evidence assume physics down here to be any different from physics out there.

So, if we've believed stupid things in the past (which is "out there") then we must deduce we probably still believe stupid things now.

The important thing is to keep making improvements to our beliefs; to keep extending the assumption of normality until we can see understanding reaching everywhere, and everyone, without having to invoke special cases.







A blue star rises, and who of us can say

out by the horizon, electric blue ink
a sky uniquely annotated dawning
its own way and who of us can say
what a day like this may mean

one pale, bluish star, low in the brightening sky
I watch you stir your tea I watch
you watch my eyes we're drawing nearer
covertly, through a fall of hair

a blue star might rise unprecedented
just there in its own way on a day
with the horizon not so far away
you tie your hair back firmly with a string

out by the horizon
I greet you properly, a public display
what passes as normal, we're unaliened
and our funny ways strange no more

a blue star rises and all unmanned,
unwomanned, freshly peopled...
we walk out hands held
into the new world, bravely



2017-07-04

Devotions

Don't ask me where this comes from.  It's a redemption story and it's a chance for science and reason to win one back from religion and superstition...

It's also one of my many "poems with anonymous female protagonists".

And finally I hope it is a message of hope, a demonstration that there is spirituality and mystery in science, and in Coventry Station too...







Devotions

After she leaves the nunnery, her suitcase waits
for the shuttle bus, patient in Italian dust.
She returns to Coventry, to rain and rooms
with a distant Aunt.  She is adrift.  She tries

to lift her mood in the public library
but chances into the reference section
and reads it all.  Three years later she upgrades
to a visitor's ticket at the University;

still lost, but finds Philosophy to be filled
with many helpful guides.  She chats with Plato;
hides from Nietzsche; finds Kant natural
but Heidegger hard and chances at last

on Teilhard de Chardin who takes her in hand.
They hike four hundred Dewey Decimals north
to land in Astrophysics, right next to Carl Sagan
and the world moves

the very next day in Morrisons--her palm
against fluorescents is filled with brighter light.
We are star stuff.  We are golden.  And as for the Garden...
it's obvious we've never left.
 
***

The check-out assistant frowns,
but sells the apple anyway.

***

Most mornings now she jogs, and in the afternoons
her job at the railway information desk
will let her set lost travellers on their way.

So much for the days.  In the evenings she returns
to the tiny room.  She has travelled now so far
that light leaving the Abbess at T = 0
will never catch her up.

Sometimes she works on relating theory
to everything; sometimes she sits
and watches stars go past the window. 



2017-06-13

Agatha Christocracy

Alternative Forms of Government
(an occasional series)

Number 2



Agatha Christocracy


As part of a clever system of checks and balances, parliament is divided into subcommittees of a suitable size for putting up at long weekend house parties in isolated country manors.

These committees are put up at long weekend house parties in isolated country manors, and well equipped with ceremonial daggers, antique pistols, rare Amazonian poison frogs, and loose floorboards at the top of the Elizabethan stone staircase, etc.

Each house party is composed of those from all political parties, and also a good mix of those for and against proposed legislation.  The factions take advantage of the natural cover (e.g. secret passages) and resources (e.g. weapons) to try and swing the vote in their favour.

The chairman of the committee, roughly equivalent to a Deputy Speaker, is called The Detective because he maintains order by attempting to "detect" who has murdered whom.  Accordingly each day he calls the members to order in the library and explains, whimsically and at some length, who's going to be taken away by the police superintendent for a lengthy stretch in jail.

As this process inevitably burns through the sitting members at a prodigious rate (considered one of it's most favourable aspects by modern political thinkers), new candidates for public office are also always present in the guise of butlers, police constables, inquisitive neighbours, eccentric artists, etc.  These can achieve election as simply as by being first on the scene when a body is discovered, or for higher offices by more stringent requirements such as unexpectedly being the long lost sister of the Home Secretary, the person with single most compelling motive, but who eventually turns out not to have done it after all.

All those in favour: leave suspiciously deep footprints in the flowerbed outside the orangery window; those opposed: turn up under a false name and only reveal one critical fact on the final page of the penultimate chapter...