I am purring as I approach the night sky.
The lights over Dallas portend the grid of our existence,
Unless you are lucky and
Fly disdainfully above as they do in the rows before the screens.
Sometimes thought scatters into fragments
Of perceptual delights; it bumps, and then things
Appear in a sandwich bag unexpectedly.
Sometimes thought gathers into
Puffy cloud formations
over the remains of Dallas.
Then an immense pressure comes from Prayer.
Monks and Buddhist workshop participants
sneak McDonalds onto their laps
With unquiet need to quiet hunger.
There is nothing that comes from nothing, unless
The Ancients were wrong;
Nonbeing would then have to be suspended above Being
Like hovering Dallas over the puffy Clouds, inverting ground and sky,
sense with nonsense, time with mortality.
Because Existence would then be fragile and upset.
The gaze would flow behind the logic that Parmenides, through his boyfriend Zeno,
Thought to be paradoxical transitory illusion.
We wonder: doesn’t the world keep whirling?
Moment X always evaporates, or trances,
Into a Moment Y just beneath its grasp?
The great Marx could not conceptualize Change
Without his own Moment; it drove him crazy that
Democritus was cast into an Aristotlean bucket to make it appear
As though lifeless atoms evolve into a teleological Form.
“Perhaps we conceive it in a diagram,” the later revisionists remark.
But then it appears to be a static stretch: H + O+ o=WATER.
Not a vision of change! Instead, a formal equation negating flow, time, transition,
And – what many folk psychologists take as given – as Zeno did,
That change escapes the clawed boundaries of reason;
So why is it that we notice that the whirled always worls?
Becomes its own constant anxiety,
And just as Empedocles thought, a struggle
Between opposites, like hot and cold, male and female, dark and light?
Or as Taylor wondered, a shift in things that
We need to perceive when we realize
That the moment of love, or even a major pyrrhic victory over Love,
One we admit our ancestors transcended by Cloud,
Is merely another transient image of change,
Like a tree-ring, seen only after its appearance?
How could Parmenides be right –
That only Being persists? As Iveta’s cat keeps reappearing in the window,
His persistence could imply duration through some moment of feeling.
The question is no longer “How can we rationalize change, motion, becoming?”
The question becomes a new dialogic fable with the departure “What Is what is?”
Isn’t ISness simply an image, a banana peel we briefly
Cling to and consume like the warmth of a blanket?
Maybe Being is a mere housefly,
A carpetbagger sucking brief existence out of a pod
Like a wasp sucking the juice out of cilantro flowers
And circling the petal around with its head
Bearded with pollen resin?
Breathing in resin juice like it was the soil trying to nutrify
The last seed on earth?
A beggar breathing in the pleasure
Of a pollen fragment, or
A warm blanket in the still starry night?
Isn’t Being just a comfort blanket, a snuggy
The Lonely conceptualize,
As though we had an Independent Idea
Of Being’s Perpetual Existence? Through a snuggle of comfort we know
The whirled will shrug off in an instant of space?
We sometimes shatter our illusions of Illusion with the brief flower
Of clinging to the face of the flower, as though it would keep us
Clover-bearing and bearded
Until the end of our relationship with Time?
We sometimes free the wasp
From its grasp of the cilantro flower
And leave it to despair,
Searching over the earth
For one bitter herb to grasp
Over frackpits in agonizing dry fetid cornstalks.
We sometimes free Being from its momentary snuggy of comfort
With confrontation, as though that would cure our curious need for Being with open
Encounter with Becoming.
We look at all the images of Being we have strewn about our lives.
We sometimes throw our own fake pills of comfort
Into the rubbish pile of
Former images of Being.
Dallas, water, Monks, clouds,
Tree-rings, cats, flies, wasps,
Banana peels, stars, snuggies, beggars, flowers,
Frackpits, cornstalks, pills, rubbish, and comfort.
Then we say to one another with the seriousness of grieving parents:
“There lies the One, among Many.”
Joseph Cronin, PhD, is the Faculty Coordinator at Antioch University. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Philosophy from Williams College, a master’s in Philosophy and Education from Teachers College, Columbia University, and a PhD in Philosophy from the University of Cincinnati. He served as the chair of the Humanities Division at Thomas More College in Northern Kentucky, where he taught for 10 years. He also served as the associate dean for the School of Liberal Studies at Antioch University Midwest in Yellow Springs for 10 years.
Dr. Cronin has taught a variety of courses related to sustainability, including Environmental Ethics, Social Ethics, Business Ethics, the Philosophy of Nature, and Global Ecology and Public Policy. He also teaches courses in writing, Aesthetics, and Literary Theory, and he is the founder and former director of Antioch University Midwest’s Writing Center. He serves on the board of the Antioch Writer’s Workshop, and he is a board director of the Ohio Alliance for People and Environment. He has published two books: Foucault’s Antihumanist Historiography and Returning Questions: A Dialogical Introduction to Philosophy.