Some Thoughts on The Measured Word

This collection of essays edited by Kurt Brown[1] offers an interesting collection of writers, from those dealing in both poetry and science (Miroslav Holub), to poets intrigued by what science both unveils to and hides from us as people (just about everyone else). I have found a lot of interesting quotes in most of these essays (read here), and a lot that doesn’t quite fit inside the quotation format. Some ephemeral knowledge building that won’t quite fit into language right now.

I am reaching toward being able to articulate what it is I’m getting out of the essays. Pattiann Rogers’ essay in particular[2] catches my attention in the way it interacts with ideas I have about the thesis collection (I wrote about it here and here).

But also, there is M. L. Williams’ “Knowers and Makers”[3], in which he writes that

poets and scientists alike desire to describe and create, to tell stories about the universe and to clear a space for new ideas, new ways of thinking… it is our mutual ability to describe the universe that ultimately brings our endeavors together. (20)

This is at the crux of my contemplation right now. Emily Grosholz addresses the differences in describing the universe in her “Poetry and Science in America”, which I am still working my way through. She seems to be taking a more combative approach to the situation, which I do not feel is entirely useful–being an argument in favor of one ontology over another doesn’t really help to see them as one ontology together versus a very different ontology (or cosmology as Rogers has it), which is the true social divide in society.

Not between Science and Poetry, but between the Real and Mythology.

I tend to address this divide as if mythology has no place in our world, but that is not really what I think. It is not mythologies themselves which create a division in society, but the misuse of them, the absolute unquestioning, unthinking belief in them and messages conveyed in their names which sows discord. Mythologies themselves hold an number of valuable human lessons, from ethics to morality to human connection. Many of those lessons have other sources as well, aside from myth, but that is another argument.

At any rate, there’s lots of good stuff in Brown’s collection just on the subject of poetry as an art, and I highly recommend it for reading for any poet, interested in science or not. I do have some inkling that there is room for a new edition of the volume, but more on that later.


[1] Brown, Kurt, ed.  The Measured Word: On Poetry and Science.  Athens, GA: U. Georgia P, 2001.  Print.

[2] Rogers, Pattiann.  “Cosmology and the Soul’s Habitation”.  The Measured Word: On Poetry and Science.  ed. Kurt Brown.  Athens, GA: U. Georgia P, 2001.  Print.  1-13.

[3] Williams, M. L.  “Knowers and Makers”.  The Measured Word: On Poetry and Science.  ed. Kurt Brown.  Athens, GA: U. Georgia P, 2001.  Print.  14-23.

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