This morning as I prepared for this week's class on images, on the power of images, and how they operate in poetry I thought of seeing, how we see, how we are trained to see and not see. I remembered the story of the explorer Magellan. When he and his crew docked at a village near Tierra del Fuego and climbed onto land, the villagers couldn't see them. It sounds unbelievable, actually, until you realize that yet everyday we walk and exist within several realms. In the western world we have been trained to interact and see only one, the one discernible with our five senses. (There are more than five senses.) There are the plant realm, insect realms, various creature realms, the sky realms, ancestor human realms, the realms of the deceased who do not know they are dead to this world, and so on. In the western way of thinking (western, that is, non-indigenous, all of our cultures have indigenous roots), if we see and communicate within these realms, we are dwellers in the imagination, or outright crazy. Poets are interpreters and singers. We are crossover stations of these realms.


mj said...

For many years, I didn't see the sky. It was as if there were no sky. It ceased to exist. Those were years I felt like dying. Now I sit and look at the stars at night and I feel like a more whole human being. There is something wrong when you make something so vast, something so amazing, peripheral and it kills us inside, yet even this death we make peripheral. But we create images an stimuli to keep our eyes too busy to see that. I bet if we spent 30 minutes staring at the sky we would be far more relaxed at the end of the day than if we spent 30 minutes in front of the tv...and yet people don't even think to do it and tv gets flipped on like a reflex. It's kinda crazy, isn't it?

Kathryn Stripling Byer said...

I've grown weary of generalizations about "the western way of thinking." Poets can do better than this. I would expect them to see the spectrum of voices and insights beyond the easy generalizations.
Otherwise, thanks for the the info. about Sarah Palin. Scary.