As we consider Emerson (whom the late Harold Bloom called “God”) and Einstein, and Astra theology, and what is known about the universe in ancient and emergent minds, considering human and civil rights, peace, and the environment (Peace! Love! Freedom! Happiness!) in which we hear (Hear! Hear!) from Listen, John Steinbeck, Rumi, John Lennon, Elvis, and Hair, as well as Leonard Bernstein, as well as Ian Chillag’s Radiotopia’s “Everything is Alive.” And more thoughts with the University of Oregon’s Insight Seminar and Clark Honors College’s “Thinking Like the Sun: Travel in Ancient and Emergent Minds.” This is Professor Barbara Mossberg with our Producer Zappa Johns.
Who understands e=mc²? It takes a genius, right? Do we think genius is beyond us? That genius is Einstein maybe, but not you? Do we think Einstein is in his own orbit, far removed from us? We may think knowledge of the world is far from what we can grasp in our everyday life–and thus let it go as an intellectual luxury we cannot afford, and turn back to our daily reality, the shoelace and the biscuit, the diagnosis, the wine, the tomato harvested from the garden. Love worry, trying so hard to do the right thing, these are our joys and work. And as for Emerson, well, is he just impossible to understand to the point of irrelevance?
My heart rouses thinking to bring you news of something that concerns you and concerns many men. Look at what passes for the new. You will not find it there but in despised poems. It is difficult to get the news from poems yet men die miserably every day for lack of what is found there.
William Carlos Williams gives both a diagnosis and Rx in poetry, as difficult and despised as it may be. Together with the idea of irrelevance to our stressed responsible lives, these ideas of literature, and genius as something we don’t have to worry about, are contested and exuberantly and earnestly interrogated by two of the greatest minds of the 19th and 20th centuries, who sought to convince us that WE are what the doctor ordered. In fact, that we are geniuses the world needs now. And they are going to define just what they think this means, as wise, enlightened citizenry.
© Barbara Mossberg 2019