Monday, December 26, 2011

Sight inward seeing itself

How Indeterminacy Determines Us
William Bronk

We are so little discernible as such
in so much nothing, it is our privacy
sometimes that startles us: the world is ours;
it is only ours; others that move there,
or seem to, are elsewhere, are in another world,
their world; only, we see from time to time
—shattered, as though we were nothing, or not
stable—sometimes we see what they see,
no world we know. Theirs. Strange. As though
by a momentary shift of little bits
of charges, copper were carbon and felt the weight
and valences of carbon in a changed field
of inertias and reactions, and then were copper again
in a cupreous world. We are left to wonder at
and ponder our privacy and ponder this:
we are two unknowns in a single equation, we
and our world, functions one of the other. Sight
is inward and sees itself, hearing, touch,
are inward. What do we know of an outer world?

As the office poetry reading group goes on hiatus, I offer this poem by William Bronk as one of our last subjects of study. It’s from his 1964 book The World, the Worldless, one of my favorites. I was especially intrigued by the idea of sight inward seeing itself, and the implications similarly for the sensory experiences of hearing and touching. But what proved most fascinating to us was the consideration of privacy as a way to refer to the psychic reality—conscious and unconscious—characterizing each person’s subjectivity. One view of psychic reality proposes that deep subjectivity is limited by and contained within one body; another that privacy is in fact constituted between two or more persons in interaction; and a third which suggests that subjectivity between people is created in reference to—and perhaps because of—a social third manifesting as language, or social structure, or social order. We take our privacy for granted, assuming it belongs to us. But, who and what exactly are we?

Here’s looking to 2012.

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