CAUCUS FOR THE HEARTS: WHY ART MATTERS TO CONSTANTLY KEEPING THE COUNTRY GREAT

A radio-waving welcome to Congresswoman Pingree, new co-chair of Congress’ Caucus for the Arts; how arts have played key roles in critical legislation for civil and human rights, war and peace, and the environment, including making Presidential reputations for greatness (e.g., Abraham Lincoln). And on the topic of what literary hearts can do for the nation, we explore what they can do for you, specifically, your immortality. O, I don’t mean how artists achieve immortality, but you, actually: your cellular reality. Really, Dr. B? Reading or writing a poem can keep me alive forever? Perhaps! We began to talk in recent shows about the possibility of downloading your consciousness, and you continuing on in digital form, which is, after all, what literature is, a downloading consciousness available forever, as long as time. But I’m also thinking of the news of the immortal jellyfish and its portent for us, and in fact, how the jellyfish’s strategy of infinite existence may describe the process of metaphor, and the existential realities of the metaphoric process. Finally, on the same topic, our show takes up the possible extinction of frogs and toads, long a favorite of literature, and how perhaps now literature can help to save them, not only on the page, in that forever sense, but in their cells, even before lessons of the immortal jellyfish are applied to species. We’ll hear lively earthy poems on frogs and toads by D.H. Lawrence, Billy Collins, Mary Oliver, Elizabeth Bishop, Marianne Moore, and Emily Dickinson, and paeans in lyric stories The Wind in the Willows(is it your favorite, too?), Frog and Toad Are Friends, and folk and fairy tales: the princess and the frog, and we tie it all up with happy endings and never endings: happily ever after!

So welcome to our shew, our Poetry Slow Down—you know you move too fast—and we’re making our mornings last with the news you need, the news you heed, the news without which men die miserably every day, according to William Carlos Williams, who as a physician should know: it’s poetry, a way to stop time, and perhaps live on and on. We’re produced by Zappa Johns, on California’s Central Coast, and I’m your host and creator of this show, Professor Barbara Mossberg, live on the road from the University of Oregon, to Pasadena, California, home of the Einstein Papers Project at Caltech, then on to Copenhagen, and on to Stockholm, where we’ll do our show next week, before going to Finland and the Maple Leaf and Eagle Conference, where I’m going to be talking about poetry’s role in national laws. Today’s Cinco do Mayo, and we’ve just passed the day when Star Wars fans go around saying, May the Fourth Be With You, from the Star Wars’ films’ mantra, “may the force be with you.” Obi-Wan Kenobi used the phrase throughout his life. … He later told Luke Skywalker, “The Force will be with you. … Similarly, Han Solo said it to Luke Skywalker while preparing to leave Yavin 4, despite his agnostic stance towards the ForceIn Episode IV: A New Hope, Obi-Wan Kenobi explains the Force to Luke as “an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us, penetrates us, and binds the galaxy together.” Jedi and other Force users access the Force with the help of midi-chlorians, microscopic organisms inside their cells. Well, Poetry Slow Down, that takes us straight to the news about the immortal jellyfish, who are dancing this force, and happy ever after to us! 

© Barbara Mossberg 2018

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