Posts Tagged ‘question’


who and what am I?
— we each have a thousand ways
of not knowing this

And that in itself, of course, is a kind of answer. I thought of calling the poem ‘sideways knowledge’. There seems to be nil link between the poem and my last night’s dreams. I woke at 3am and decided to get up, pleased that I had a few dream images still in my brain, and plenty of time to spend before work this morning, trying to shape a poem. I’ve been busy lately with the business of moving house, with a date set for the end of this month, and that is partly why I’ve not kept up with this blog. Also, I’m going to be moving in with my partner Liz, and it isn’t clear at all whether our life together (or whether she) will allow me the luxury of an hour or more at the beginning of the day, spent thinking about my dreams and trying to blog poetry. In view of that uncertainty, it’s natural to ease off the rigid habit, and see if I can do without it — before circumstances force me to do without it. I dreamed last night I was playing through Mahler’s 2nd Symphony in my head, wondering at the marvel of it. Actually I woke with the music of the 3rd going round and round, but in the dream I thought it was the 2nd. I guess there is — very broadly — some connection between ‘who and what am I?’ and Mahler. His music does ask this.

empty negative

is there a journey,
a path and a traveller?
— am I the changing
landscape? — the next footstep is
always another question

This poem is based on a dream last night where I was passenger in a car. The driver and I, between us, were trying to find our way through a countryside of rolling Mediterranean hills — with eventual success — arriving where the road came to a dead end in a market. Very picturesque. It set me off thinking, awake, about the metaphors ‘path’, ‘journey’, ‘way’, etc — as for instance in the word TaoTao surely the most profound symbol ever discovered by any religion (and so down to earth as well). Somehow, very swiftly, I found myself questioning the terms of the ‘journey’ metaphor. Am ‘I’ the traveller, or the path, or the journey? Somewhere at the back of my mind I had a memory of having heard about a Buddhist proof that the ‘I’ does not exist, which works by analysing a chariot into its component parts. I’ve tracked this down as a Wikipedia article here. So that’s roughly how I arrived at the title of my poem.


the question isn’t
whether our species will die
— it’s are we dying
young, imagining death won’t
see us if we hide our eyes?

Wish I could remember last night’s dream more clearly. Pervaded (as so often) by the figure of Robert Graves, I seemed to be at the very end of the world. There was no animal life at all except one particular species (not homo sapiens) which had found a way to survive, and which had produced a brood of babies. There did seem to be plenty of vegetation. I had the gift of time travel, so I was whizzing around in time trying to find the optimum conditions where these baby animals could survive.


did Uri Geller
really bend spoons with his mind?
— oh leave it alone —
there ought to be a word for
the questionness of asking

In my dream, Geller was a recording artist and I was listening to his Latin funk. My poem strikes me as somewhat clumsy. Yet I have often thought there ought to be a (Latin?) word for ‘the questionness of asking’, and this is the best I am likely to manage in terms of getting across what I mean. Our minds are chock full of questions all the time. Questions are really basic to how our minds work. And yet who has ever asked what a question is? Sounds ridiculously abstract. But we just accept there is this state of mind that we fall into, called a ‘question’. Finding out the meaning of that state of mind seems to me more important than getting ‘answers’ to the ‘questions’. Every question is a koan I guess.