An empty tree where nothing
Hangs but human chains. A race
Defined by all its crimes, fooled
By grace, a hollow taste of
Metal tears, the rust of
Years congealed in hope, a swinging
Rope. Soap in mouth, headed
South, planetary rout from (toward)
Who knows what. The end is near.
Or is it here?

Meet the Big Shaggy

Here’s the first of (hopefully) many entries in our list of required reading. Since I began by discussing the need for a universal language, some keycode that will allow us access to the workings of the multifaceted human mind, I thought this would be a good place to start:

David Brooks, “History for Dollars.” The New York Times, June 7, 2010. You can access this article here: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/08/opinion/08brooks.html?_r=0.

I was working, that summer, on an essay for the Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies (Vol. XXIII/1: 2011) on John Henry Newman’s The Idea of a University (which will also be featured on this list in future), and in the process of researching the topic, I came across this editorial of Brooks’. In an age of practical education, when pragmatism outshines idealism and philosophy gives way to the paycheck, Brooks reminds us of the need for continued study of the humanities, and through them, of humanity itself. He calls it The Big Shaggy, one of the best descriptions of that hairy monster that lives inside us all and inspires both the best and the worst acts we commit, from the impulse that led to the bombing of the Boston marathon to the courage that led first responders to give their lives for the people of West, Texas, when their fertilizer plant blew.

Brooks reminds us that there is more to life than business or computer science degrees can adequately address. We are living beings, bundles of contradictory emotions that refuse to be reconciled or explained. Truth be told, there is some measure of bipolarity in all of us: we oscillate between happiness and sadness, confidence and depression; we lash out in fear as often as we reach out in love; we struggle to keep our ship of state from tacking wildly in the winds of change. In order to truly understand one another, to see the man behind the curtain (if you will), we need to see into the machinery that makes us tick. We need to meet The Big Shaggy.

Happy reading!


Who decides the shape of
What’s inside of me? The cogs and wheels,
Nuts, bolts, and spinning
Yarn of my identity–They or
Me? Or We? Am I
Happy or am I sad? Am I
Glad, or is that bad? Unclad and
Unashamed; who’s to say whether
Praise or blame adorn my name? My fame resides
In infamy: this life is rife with
Inconsistency that sets me free and holds me fast. And
At last, the me you see is only a dream that seems
Real but is fake, full but
Empty. Hollow space that wears a face with
Nothing but shadows behind, you’ll find. A
Mere facade searching for god in common things and
Tales of kings. A pair of wings with
Nowhere to fly.

I Walk In Silence

I walk in silence through streets of myself,
Speaking in voices that are not mine,
Hearing with ears that do not define the line between
Oneself and one other. Seeing through eyes
That belong to another and yet
Are my own.

Is this a sign of things to come?
Do I hear the beat of a drum
Coursing through veins a world away,
Still anticipating words that I say?

I open the door and step into the fray.

Do Not Touch

Some things, behind the glass, are made
To be seen; touching may
Shatter, soil, or stain the illusion of
Real. Point and stare;
The invisible barrier between
A wall, crowding out comprehension.
Connection disconnected; closeness outdistanced by distance
Enforced. A wolf
In experience’s clothing.