Poetry from 01/2014

26 January 2014

The Unknown Citizen

He was found by the Bureau of Statistics to be
One against whom there was no official complaint,
And all the reports on his conduct agree
That, in the modern sense of an old-fashioned word, he was a
   saint,
For in everything he did he served the Greater Community.
Except for the War till the day he retired
He worked in a factory and never got fired,
But satisfied his employers, Fudge Motors Inc.
Yet he wasn't a scab or odd in his views,
For his Union reports that he paid his dues,
(Our report on his Union shows it was sound)
And our Social Psychology workers found
That he was popular with his mates and liked a drink.
The Press are convinced that he bought a paper every day
And that his reactions to advertisements were normal in every way.
Policies taken out in his name prove that he was fully insured,
And his Health-card shows he was once in hospital but left it cured.
Both Producers Research and High-Grade Living declare
He was fully sensible to the advantages of the Instalment Plan
And had everything necessary to the Modern Man,
A phonograph, a radio, a car and a frigidaire.
Our researchers into Public Opinion are content
That he held the proper opinions for the time of year;
When there was peace, he was for peace:  when there was war, he went.
He was married and added five children to the population,
Which our Eugenist says was the right number for a parent of his
   generation.
And our teachers report that he never interfered with their
   education.
Was he free? Was he happy? The question is absurd:
Had anything been wrong, we should certainly have heard.

Here's a link to Auden's poem that shares themes from Catch-22. I would say it's about living an inauthentic life. What we can see on the outside of people, what we can say about them, doesn't speak to the inner life. Files, paperwork, records. These are supposed to tell us what's important about a person in our society. But it's all just paper in the wind. What of the actual lives being lived?

http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/15549

“It is horrible to think that the world could one day be filled with nothing but those little cogs, little men clinging to little jobs and striving towards bigger ones - a state of affairs which is to be seen once more, as in the Egyptian records, playing an ever-increasing part in the spirit of our present administrative system, and especially of its offspring, the students. This passion for bureaucracy ... is enough to drive one to despair. It is as if in politics ... we were deliberately to become men who need "order" and nothing but order, become nervous and cowardly if for one moment this order wavers, and helpless if they are torn away from their total incorporation in it. That the world should know no men but these: it is such an evolution that we are already caught up, and the great question is, therefore, not how we can promote and hasten it, but what can we oppose to this machinery in order to keep a portion of mankind free from this parcelling-out of the soul, from this supreme mastery of the bureaucratic way of life.”
― Max Weber
Karl Emil Maximilian "Max" Weber (21 April 1864 – 14 June 1920) was a German sociologist, philosopher, and political economist whose ideas influenced social theory.  Weber is often cited, with Émile Durkheim and Karl Marx, as among the three founding creators of sociology.

http://www.nytimes.com/1985/09/10/world/bureaucrats-feel-yevtushenko-jab.html

 


 

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4 January 2014

Waste Paper: A Poem of Profound Insignificance (C.1922)

Poem by H.P. Lovecraft; 

I used to sit on the stairs of the house where I was born
After we left it but before it was sold
And play on a zobo with two other boys.
We called ourselves the Blackstone Military Band
Won’t you come home, Bill Bailey, won’t you come home?
In the spring of the year, in the silver rain
When petal by petal the blossoms fall
And the mocking birds call
And the whippoorwill sings, Marguerite.
The first cinema show in our town opened in 1906
At the old Olympic, which was then call’d Park,
And moving beams shot weirdly thro’ the dark
And spit tobacco seldom hit the mark.
Have you read Dickens’ American Notes?
My great-great-grandfather was born in a white house
Under green trees in the country
And he used to believe in religion and the weather.

http://www2.open.ac.uk/openlearn/design_nutshell/index.php#

 

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