Thursday, February 16, 2017

Jack Scott writes

Simpler Minded Men 

Simpler minded men find consolation 

in simpler minded women than you. 
I, too, seek solace, but of a stronger brew: 
a bracing tonic, a healing tea,
a challenging complexity.

Your quest is solitude, 

yet how almost rude 
to those bound to you 
by a sort of loving glue 
to deal with us as strangers 
to each other and to you.

You see your self 

(Narcissus did) 
until the mirror rippled. 
(Narcissus hid) 
Your reflection didn’t show what lurked 
in the depths below who you thought you were. 
Marriage to a stranger now 
through richer, poorer, sickness, health 
‘til death divorces you from yourself 
is the venue where you seek 
what makes you so unique 
and also quite alone.

I seek in solace 

what you seek in solitude, 
consummation of a union
although you may not know it: 
companion for an expedition 
implicit or declared through the wilderness,
confusion halved and courage doubled,   

holding hands through gauntlets, 
exorcising spooks and goblins, 
plumbing the abyss, 
organizing chaos, 
taming savagery,   
each of us a guide, 
a trusted compass.

Since your self is what you seek 

search for it with, but not in others. 
Although you may expect Eureka 
followed by a thunderclap, beware:
even though you think you have a map 
along a friendless path 
you may not know how to read it.

Solitude can envelop solace 

and solace, solitude. 
You alone decide 
which is envelope, 
which is message.

Stand by those who love you; 

you may need us in the end. 
With you or without, we go.
 Image result for narcissus paintings
 Narcissus -- Caravaggio



  1. Nárkissos, the son of the river god Kephisos and nymph Liriope, was a hunter from Thespiae in Boeotia who was reknowned for his beauty and pride who disdained those who loved him. Noticing this behavior, Nemesis attracted Narcissus to a pool, where he saw his own reflection in the water and fell in love with it. Unable to leave the beauty of his reflection, he stared at his reflection until he died. The word "narcissus" has come to mean a daffodil, but Gaius Plinius Secundus wrote that the plant was named for its fragrance (narkao, "I grow numb") not the youth. Pausanias recorded a variant of the story in which Narcissus fell in love with his twin sister rather than himself. The myth had a decided influence on English Victorian homoerotic culture, via André Gide's study of the myth, "Le Traité du Narcisse" (The Treatise of the Narcissus, 1891), and the only novel by Oscar Wilde, "The Picture of Dorian Gray," which was first published in "Lippincott's Monthly Magazine" in 1890 after the editor deleted 500 words without Wilde's knowledge and then in longer book form in 1891 (with an aphoristic preface defending the artist's rights and of art for art's sake, based in part on his defenses of the novel the previous year against reviewers who claimed he should be prosecuted for violating laws against public morality -- even though he removed some of the most controversial material). In 1894 he wrote a prose poem about the subject, "The Disciple":

    When Narcissus died, the pool of his pleasure changed from a cup of sweet waters into a cup of salt tears, and the Oreads came weeping through the woodland that they might sing to the pool and give it comfort.

    And when they saw that the pool had changed from a cup of sweet water into a cup of salt tears, they loosened the green tresses of their hair and said, “We do not wonder that you should mourn in this manner for Narcissus, so beautiful was he.”

    “But was Narcissus beautiful?” said the pool.

    “Who should know better than you?” asked the Oreads. “Us did he ever pass by, but you sought he for, and would lie on your banks and look down at you, and in the mirror of your waters he would mirror his own beauty.”

    And the pool answered, “But I loved Narcissus because, as he lay on my banks and looked down at me, in the mirror of his eyes I saw ever my own beauty mirrored.”

    In 1898 Havelock Ellis used the term "narcissus-like" to describe excessive masturbation, whereby the person becomes his or her own sex object, amd the following year Paul Näche coined the term "narcissism" in a study of sexual perversions. In 1911 Otto Rank published the first psychoanalytical paper specifically concerned with narcissism, linking it to vanity and self-admiration, and in 1914 Sigmund Freud published a paper exclusively devoted to narcissism.

  2. Eureka! -- from the Greek "heúreka," meaning "I have found (it)" -- is an interjection used to celebrate a discovery. In the 3rd century BCE, Archimedes stepped into a bath and shouted "Eureka! Eureka!" (rather than, perhaps, "It's too expletive hot!") because he noticed that the water level rose as he entered, suddenly understanding that the volume of water displaced was equal to the volume of the part of his body that was submerged. He then ran naked, shouting through the streets of Syracuse. His kinsman Hiero II suspected that he had been cheated by a goldsmith to whom he had given gold to make a votive crown. Since gold is almost twice as dense as silver, Hiero was able to use Archimedes' discovery to find out that the goldsmith had indeed substituted some silver for the gold.


Join the conversation! What is your reaction to the post?