2017-04-16

NaPoWriMo - 2017 - April 11th - Towards a theory of knowledge

When I put up my April 9th poem, I was only a few days late, and I was very pleased because I'd nearly caught up with the alleged one per day nature of NaPoWriMo.  Since then I've not done well at all, I've been quite busy and also quite tired and poetry just doesn't seem to happen for me when I'm tired.

I've also not been very inspired by any prompts I've seen, which I suspect is another aspect of the tiredness.

Anyway I have now managed to write this.  It's not from any prompt but rather six lines of notes that I've had around for years.  I'm also not very happy with the character "she" as she's a bit of a cypher, even allowing for the fact that the two characters ("she" and "you") in this are only really caricatures.

However it's what I had time for, so here you go, a belated poem for the 11th.


Towards a theory of knowledge


Everything you think you know is wrong
or at least grotesquely out-of-date.  The speed of light
crawls, glacier-urgent, towards you past her empty plate...
Whole nanoseconds pass, she starts to frown,
and do not get me started on the sluggishness of nerves:
ion gates creak open, electric charge
only just starting to move
and maybe, in some previous life, you were unwise
to criticise her shoes.

Everything you think you know is wrong
or at least statistically poor, you've sampled her
at most four times this weak,
a fistful of data points and who's to say
what subtle changes may have happened
beneath the resolution of Student's t-test
for a population of this size
while you were off working on another dataset.

Everything you think you know is wrong
and philosophically suspect
solipsism cannot be disproved
and if you're moved to say
the Universe is vast and so complex:
it is no thing you could express
and thus you claim you cannot be
imagining reality, or even just the slope
of her nose -- well, sure, OK, there's something there
outside your skull, but still no proof
that she exists in anything like the form you hope.

Everything you think you know is wrong
your brain is built of only one device
-- the neurone --
and yes, you have a billion
but I know no proof
that says precisely what the wetware
can or can't embrace.  We know, for example:
face recognition is strong,
you did not kiss her sister for all that long
but there could be so many things
you cannot ever grasp --
although that slap was fairly comprehensible.

Everything you think you know is wrong
your base psychology is tuned
not to experience reality, but rather
to focus on those bits of it that get you by,
that get you fed, that get you sex, healthy children,
a seat closer to the fire, avoid pain,
and maybe another younger woman on the side
-- which is really just the healthy children thing again.
Oh yes, protest you understand
politics, economics,
the servicing of the small, about-town cars
but you don't know, you really don't
if your core program only goes this far...
and way beyond there lie the deep, bleak truths
that you will never see
or, more subtly, be able to accept:
like those things that she just said.
Were you even listening?

Everything you think you know is wrong,
quantum physics stringing you along
with the idea that the world makes sense
but underneath and not so nice
it seems to roll dice
and there's a chance, tiny but real,
that at any moment it might
rip off the concealing overlay
of sensibility and start to play
with the whole non-local,
anything-might-happen, no consistency thing.
And now she's talking to her ex?

Everything you think you know is wrong
and the quantum serves us also up another mystery
the past can only be explained
as a sum over histories
where just as anything might happen next
with some probability
however small, then in the other direction
in the past, there's nothing at all
which didn't happen
it's just most of it has a magnitude so small
that it can be neglected
and this is why you feel you can explain
how Friday night, is not as she suspects.
You weren't out with the sister again
but home all evening with the phone off the hook
and no lights on.

This really could have been the case, after all:
everything she thinks she knows is wrong.

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