The Assault on Inquiry

Here’s a question for you: when did we become so opposed to questions? Question society. Question the government. Question the media. Question your parents. Question everything. It’s where the seeds of knowledge are planting—in asking questions.

And yet.

And yet many adults—and I assuredly include teachers in this—are put off by that almighty: “Why?” Have you noticed the infinite capacity children seem to maintain for that investigation? Why is the sky blue? What is the nature of a dream? Why don’t we have tails? When was the world born? How deep is the ocean?

From the deepest inquiry to the most innocuous query, we should relish the spark in youth that teaches them to wonder. I say this, because too often we don’t think—and furthermore don’t care—about these answers. We know—or think we know—some semblance of the answer, so we don’t plum them any deeper with “Whys”. And in turn, we take that obstinacy and apply it to those curious youths, answering them with irritation and distaste, ridicule or dismissal, and actively make them feel stupid for thinking outside the box, for pondering depth, or for not knowing what we take for granted.

There are, none of us, who stand omniscient. Mother may be God in the eyes of a child, but we need to remember that we are not, in fact, deified. Just because you don’t know something or don’t care, doesn’t grant an open-ended excuse to dismiss, exclude, or deride. Admit you don’t know. Children won’t hold it against you, and you may learn something new and exciting yourself—we should always be trying to learn. Don’t dismiss if you do know. Sit down and explain it to them. You never know what will strike a chord that resonates with them throughout the course of their lives.

Because likewise, your negativity rubs off. Children are not the idiots many make them out to be. As I said: they are filled with wonder, and more importantly, they learn. If they can’t learn what they asked of you, then they learn to recognize instead how the pursuit of knowledge annoys and aggravates…and thus they, too, come to avoid it. To walk the path to ignorance, and chastisement of those that bury themselves in the knowledge of the world. It only takes a few experiences to ruin them.

You realize we have libraries for a reason, right? And whatever happened to, “The stars are the limit, kid,” because telling them no is a one-way street, but telling them they should grow up to find out—to be the first to know something, well, that’s a whole hell of a lot more incentive than deprecation, isn’t it?

Mr. Philosophos

Mr. PhilosophosI am the way.

Knowledge

beyond the knowing

not

–       wisdom

–                       as such

for learning is love

but loving its possession–

–       sophos

–                     self

the search yearns

breathes and breeds but

possession

–                   9/10s

–                               nothing

We are on the way

or we, drifting in the ripples

are nothing but

flavored

–               answers

–                               drunk.

Educational Hush

Twilight hush amidst the room;
a voice, rising through the shadow throng
commits the universe to notes
and I, swooning through the grace of logic, rise
drifted on the captivated stars
onto the mystic sea, glittering in
transcendental mysticism fires
that will not be bound by flesh:
a word, they say, a notion
but in that heaving sky
the rush of majesty;
souls which lie
Beyond.

Of Mines and Experiments

English: Image of American philosopher/poet Ra...

Image of Ralph Waldo Emerson. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better.”
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

It’s a phrase writers should certainly live and die by. Stagnation is, after all, the death of art, complacency the the great oppressor of the self. Without change, without experiment, there is no learning, and if we aren’t spending this life learning–what exactly are we doing?

Of course, to actually survive in this atrocious economy (can’t scribble if you’re dead, right?), that concept of experimentation is just as important for the job market. That said, I’ll be undertaking my own little experiment starting this week. Training, training, training…and underground, too. I recently took on a mining job up in Colorado’s lovely stretch of the Rockies, and while it’s certainly an abrupt shift from both my passion and my usual, I certainly hope there will be a lot to take away from it after a hard day. More insight into the underground for my scribbling, for one thing; a whole bigger dose of patience and endurance for another.

Will it be hard? Yes. Will I have less time for my real passions? Yes. Will blog posts likely take a hit over time? Almost certainly.

But I will have powerful new experiences to draw from, steady work, and undoubtedly, a whole bunch of good stories to tell.

I’m ready. Are you? Start churning the wheels in that head of yours. Think of some new matter you could turn to this month, anything, and make it so…you never know what might come of it.

Lead mining, upper Mississippi River

Mining… (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Great Matter: Rejection

“There is no failure except in no longer trying.” 
~Elbert Hubbard

Elbert Hubbard

Elbert Hubbard (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Rejection, they say, is the path to any success. Somewhere in the trial, a trail is dug so deep, honed to such a true and sharpened progression, that no great winter or man could tear it back again.

Yet there is an issue with the process.

Writing, it is known, is the field built upon this trail–that is to say, that rejection is a natural piece of its process. All will face rejection in one form or another before they find their “in-road,” be it to great or little success. in its way, it makes sense. Rejection teaches us endurance. It teaches us to weather the bad weather until truth will find us out.

The problem: how do we know?

Much as children are told: oh, you can be anything you want to be when you grow up, there is a certain lie hidden in the equation. As most can attest, not everyone can write–just as not everyone can do quantum physics or fly a plane. You wouldn’t want them to. God help you if you do. If our entire industry is based on rejection and the light at the end of the tunnel, however, then what if that light never seems to come? When do we know it is just another rejection on that trail to something more, or simply rejection of inferior work?

In our system, rejection is supposed to strengthen us. Harden our determination. But what if it shouldn’t be hardened? Are we bad writers or merely struggling writers–the question we all must ask.

A pickle, if ever there was one. Try, try again whisper the mouths of the successful. Edit and review, your English teacher lectures. Do as we do, boast the self-help brigades. Do anything else, announced the rest of the world with a shrug.

But passion won’t allow such desertion, and frustration is the end result. All men, after all, have their breaking point.

The simplest answer, I know, remains: never give up. But I know as well there is more to the wisdom, a greater and more profound explanation this young mind–known often to failure but little, as yet, to success–has not the words to lend it. So, blogosphere, if you’re out there and you’re reading, I turn this post to you in the form of a question: what is your advice to the writers of the world? Because I’m not so silly as to think I have the answers.

“In a world flagrant with the failures of civilization, what is there particularly immortal about our own?” 
~G.K. Chesterton

Related articles

Learning

Shadowed longing stretch

beyond the holes that tripped us.

Destiny, always said to glitter,

blinds the ones that know,

stumbles the ones that reach,

damns the ones who care–

in Autumn colors ride our fall,

blue skies sapped in the browning rush

to victory.

Would that someone said before the journey,

her plains are not a prize

but a path best

learned

before the setting of our day.

For the World’s Mothers

My own mother and I, featured here at my graduation.

Raise me up

From breathless sound,

The song you sing—life’s song—

The motions and the rhyme

Ring in lessons, tender

Borne on emerald winds

The flowering will always be remembered,

The bloom you brought

With hands held and patient eyes,

Even in depths of mathematical madness

Where children were not meant to play,

Even balancing worlds upon slim shoulders,

Step softly so little eyes won’t see and—

Ever, always watching you

Stir what might otherwise dwell

Hidden in the reeds.

* A special dedication for mother’s day – I know some other corners of the world have already had theirs, but the sentiments remain. For all those amazing women out there that put up with so much (I know we can be a handful)…here’s to you.

Never seen Mountains

Keeping to a “short but sweet” theme that seems to be overarching my poetry this week, I give you a Haiku. Enjoy:

Never seen Mountains;

the inner is higher than

without: nothing known.

 

Posted in conjunction with the Thursday Poets Rally.

And by the by, as a part of that, I nominate Kavita! Read any of her stuff. You’ll quickly figure out why.