A/N: Though the title refers to something else, perhaps it is important to address the issue of whether or not this isa poem-but, I don't care; I won't address it. It is what it is. If it helps, think of it as the freest free verse. I do not think it is easy to understand by any means, unless you are familiar with certain philosophers (and NOT those who are referred to in this text). I hope there's some fun in trying to figure it out; I hope it takes some effort to figure it out. Who knows? Maybe it's too transparent. This poem touches upon many different subjects; I'm sure you'll find something interesting to take away from it. Though it's really about one thing, even though it's about many things. Yet more paradox. Enjoy!
This Is Not a Poem, Said God
Sweet cliché—what is love?
"Love is like a rose."
Oh, that's original.
"Write something better."
Love is like a dandelion.
"You can't be serious."
I can if I want to be.
"You'd always play with my words."
Unlike toys they wouldn't break.
"How could love possibly be like a dandelion?"
What is a dandelion?
"A yellow weed."
You can do better than that.
"That chokes out others around it to steal their sunlight
My, aren't you the scientist?
"OK—what is a dandelion, then?"
It is said that some parents teach their children
To swim by throwing them in the deep end.
"So you'll teach me to swim? I already know how."
I'll try to teach you to swim through language,
Something you only think you know how to do.
"That doesn't make sense."
Guess we'll start with the doggy-paddle then.
Into the primordial pool with you, now.
"You're so condescending!"
Am I not God?
Tell me, what is God?
I rest my case. Back to the pool we go.
"What is a dandelion?"
A dandelion is a grouping of symbols on this page,
Just as your 'words' are as well. Understand?
I created a dandelion, just as I created photosynthesis,
And just as I created God. Tell me, if I created God,
Can I still be God?
"I think I'm drowning."
It is a question that has perplexed me since I created the question.
"So you created me?"
Just your voice. Sorry about the whining part;
No one's perfect.
You always tell the most wonderful jokes.
"So about this dandelion."
And you were treading water remarkably well. Fine:
A dandelion quite simply is a dandelion. The symbols match,
Don't they? At least, when you stay in the same language.
"So the symbols represent language."
Excellent! But wrong. Symbols represent something;
Language is nothing—merely the shadow.
"Symbols represent what casts the shadow then."
And there's the doggy-paddle! You're very swift—
Though I made you that way, I admit,
To move the conversation along a bit.
"So a dandelion, the word, is a symbol for..."
Now you see the paradox. Symbol for what?
Is a symbol for
More letters, more words, more symbols, more shadows.
Even spoken—saying 'a dandelion' does not equal what
We use those spoken words to represent. Spoken language
Is a symbol-system just as much as written language.
"Then language can only ever talk about itself!"
Brilliant! Though, that has been said before. There is nothing
About the following symbols on this page that equates them
To what they symbolize:
To say 'a dandelion is a weed' is to use one symbol to replace another.
Language confines the world to symbols. It creates
Boundaries, patterns, obstacles, stagnancy, death.
We have contained our world and thus
Language is unnatural, man-made. You must realize:
Things exist which are beyond language.
- - (EDITOR'S NOTE: I must interject here.
- - You might be thinking that this conversation
- - Is spinning out of hand. It began, you remember,
- - With a question. I assure you, if you wish
- - To read no further, the answer to that question
- - May already be discovered through the
- - Symbols that led to this warning. These two only become
- - More confusing, believe me. Well, maybe only
- - She is confusing—the other one is just beyond
- - Explanation. Solve his cruel little riddle now—
- - If you can.)
But imagine a world without language!
Forget the scientist persona;
How would you describe it?
"Without language? That's impossible."
Are you sure?
"...Well, now I'm not."
We'll let that go. Try this swim move on for size:
Does the world exist without language?
"No; 'the world' are symbols in our language."
Oh my, that was insightful. OK, does what 'the world' symbolizes
Exist without language? Essentially: can the object casting the shadow
(the shadow that is language)
Exist without its shadow?
"I'm not sure."
What is love?
"Wait—what? How'd we go from metalanguage to love?"
- - (See what I mean?)
Oh, stop it.
It is not a leap by any means, though I suppose
It still might be a little early to swim from
The deep end to the shallows.
"OK, God, teach me."
That's a little blasphemous, don't you think?
"Oh, stop it."
Mockery is supposedly a form of flattery,
But forms of the universe interest me more.
"Forms of the universe? So you're Plato now?"
Witty, charming, and a lover of history—
I've really out done myself with you.
If only you were beautiful,
But I can't draw.
"You were talking about forms."
Writing, writing about forms. But yes, I was and am.
Socrates, Plato, the others—my predecessors—
They were right: there are universal forms.
They simply made the mistake of trying to
"They can't be specified."
"Because they are beyond language."
What is love?
"...Love is beyond language?"
With conviction now!
"Love is beyond language."
"And love is a universal form!"
"I'm drowning again."
So sad, and we were in the kiddy pool the whole time.
Anything that is beyond language can therefore
Only be defined by what it is not.
"But I said love is beyond language."
A different way of saying love is not expressible via language.
"So then what is love?"
What is it not?
"You've set me up for failure!"
I know, and I am sorry, but I had a point to prove.
Let me answer the question first: what is love?
Love is the following line:
That was it; maybe you missed it.
"You didn't write anything."
"So love is nothing.
Wait—never mind, that was foolish."
You've caught your mistake; I think
You understand. You passed the test.
I will name you now: Noah.
"First of all, Noah is a man's name."
A human connotation to two syllable sounds.
"And secondly, why Noah? Or should I
Read scripture to find out."
Nosce te ipsum? No, instead: know myth.
To know mythology is to know humankind,
It is to know who we are, for we are all one, deep down.
And that is why:
We all know what love is,
But, sadly, cannot tell anyone.
To speak of metaphors,
Love is the greatest secret that everyone knows.
"So you're human? You said 'we'. And don't say
It's just more symbols."
I am human.
"But you're also God?"
- - (How the serpent tempts Eve!)
"I don't understand."
Apply what I have taught and you have learned.
"I don't understand...because some things are beyond language,
And as a human, I've confined my world with language,
And so I cannot understand what does not conform to language."
"—and yet now I do understand! It's there,
But it isn't. It exists,
But it doesn't. I feel it,
But it is ultimately intangible. Paradox..."
You asked about my point?
"That's no longer necessary."
I thought so. My, how parents smile when their children
Wade out of the shallows, and how the children
Laugh and splash as they reemerge into the world!
"Sort of like starting over."
Precisely, Noah. And forget that bothersome one—
He's just embarrassed because he can't swim like you;
No, he's embarrassed because he won't.
He's scared, you see, to see himself. He'll
Go down with the ship, sadly, but he'll
Say it is his duty, and he'll think it is heroic.
But you, Noah, you should not fear the flood—
So go and gather whom you may,
And teach them all to swim like you
Amidst the language inundation
That I have passed you through.
- - (How poetic—was that little rhyme worth
- - All this trouble? Just to shed a little skin
- - With this Tempter? Just to be Conscious
- - Of what you say and write? Foolish!
- - What is love?
- - A shadow.)