NaPoMo (n+2): Two for Mayer Hillman

Two for Mayer Hillman



So much depends



fossil fuels except



love, education, and



Focus on these





Asked what he would do were the world to end

next day, Luther replied, “Plant an apple tree.”

6 comments so far

  1. notabilia on

    Absolutely false – climate change has everything to do with “music, love, education, and happiness.” No sane or thinking human can pretend otherwise.

    • Bryan Sentes on

      Of course; however, 1. as a poem, its truth functions differently from that of a plain, prose statement; 2. The poem is composed of some of Hillman’s own plain, prose words, lightly edited to fit the pattern of William Carlos’ Williams’ “Red Wheelbarrow”, which should add one or two frames of irony.

      So, I agree; I can surely imagine a poem, a little like a passage from Nabokov at the beginning of ONE of his novels that traces the production of a pencil from the tree to the stationary store that reveals the connections between fossil fuels and those concerns Hillman urges us to concern ourselves with. As a social scientist, you’d think he might have learned something from, say, Marx! But, as an old man whose had a heart attack and stroke, maybe he’s taking a slightly too long and at the same time immediate view of things.

      Thanks for the comment! It puts you in very special company!

      • notabilia on

        Thanks for your considered reply.
        Here’s the problem: we all face death, we all face social crises, and we all can contemplate life with severe physical problems. Nothing about Mr. Hillman’s natural aging difficulties preclude the veracity of his comments.
        There are people in the best of health who share his abiding analysis.
        Oh, his perspicacity will be condemned on many bases, the easiest being his age and self-described infirmity, the others being his non-IPCCness, but what about the truth of his statements?
        Thanks for playing along.

  2. Bryan Sentes on

    The statements of Hillman’s I was referring to were those with which you first took exception, playfully or not (those things we should focus on given civilization is “doomed”), and I merely made explicit a sense I got from The Guardian article from which these words come (his statement’s being “his last will and testament”) and sentiments I get from some people I know with terminal illness. More importantly, I was at pains to draw attention to the poem(s) and their manner of truth.

    As to the truth of his claims, that is empirically undecidable. Among the informed, there is much gloom and there is even tentative hope. His criticism of our thinking only to 2100 is well-taken; his confidence that things will proceed the way he imagines they will I find less persuasive.

    2100 is around eight decades away; eight decades ago, neither DNA had been discovered, nor the atom split, not transistors developed. Even in half that time, life has changed rapidly (‘m 54). It would follow that the future is very unpredictable, and in that unpredictable is the space for hope.

    I’ve been riding that roller-coaster of despair and hope with each new piece of data that is made public. I have a long poem in the works about just that.

    When I commented on this article (see the poem preceding the two in this post) I wrote:

    What can we say? In MBCT, this kind of thinking is called “fortune telling”; the dialectician in me says: Determination does not entail the foreclosure of unforeseen developments; in fact, the determinants are the condition of their own negation; the poet-scholar remembers Blake: “What is real now was only once imagined”; the poet wrote a poem…

    If you are among those persuaded of civilization’s imminent collapse, I hold no illusions about persuading you otherwise. In either case, despair or hope, the stance is not purely rational.

  3. […] interview resulted in some tangled discussion threads that, in turn, resulted in some poems (here, here, and here), and some friends’ sharing the interview on-line—again!—prompted the following […]

  4. […] are some miscellaneous “one-offs” here, too:  “Two [more!] for Mayer Hillman”, “Ontario Election Results in Real Time 2018”, and a little poem on the eve of the […]

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