Friday, January 8, 2010

Losing Poetry

Early today, I was listening to Morning Edition on NPR.
My first light ritual is laced with half listening, and coffee. Real thought rarely breaks through until two hours of vertical life have passed, but an interview with the band, OK Go, broke my usual stupor.
They were promoting their new album, and no, this is not a review of said album. I haven’t listened to it, but I did listen to them talk about a song they called, “Before the Earth was Round”. The lead singer, Damien Kulash said, “It’s an absurdist allegory where the whole world figures out the Earth is round. They have knowledge now, and everything goes wrong because of it. They lose mystery and poetry."
Do I have this right…if we gain knowledge, we lose poetry?
The interviewer compared the discovery event of OK Go’s song to the first bite of the apple, which tends to paint the acquisition of knowledge in a very negative light. Can it be that gaining understanding could be synonymous with the loss of poetry?
Kulash acknowledges that it is an “absurdist allegory”. I tried to find the full lyrics to the song, but failed, so I will assume that part of the absurdism is the idea that receiving knowledge will make everything go wrong, and is equivalent to losing poetry.
I have, in my worst moments of cynicism (which is often), believed fear of knowledge (and lack of poetry) to be a core problem with our US educational system, and thus the state of the union in general.
Life feels easier when we are not “knowing”, and as a population, we are easier to control when we have no interest in learning about the worlds and lives beyond our own, unless they are chopped, shopped and packaged for “reality” TV, which offers no real information. It just keeps us….in front of the TV not reading poetry, and not discovering that the world is indeed round, and much bigger than us.
I admit that in my own (written) poetry I resist the obvious revelation. I like secrets. I like secrets a lot, but I have no wish to be an obstructionist. I do not want to write my secrets into language so obscure that no one will ever have any idea of what I’m talking about, and wow, if I was one in a gang of people who discovered the earth was round, I like to imagine I would say, “yea, no edge to fall over! Now I can just keep on walking, and see what else is out there…who’s with me?”

1 comment:

  1. Parallel to the argument that advances in scientific knowledge nullify belief in God or gods. I believe, rather it enables us to refine our beliefs, and frees us from interpretations laden with strictures long forgotten to have originated as attempts at explanation of the unknown. Therefore, I think poetry will only be enabled and refined, but never extinct.