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Old 7th-October-2009, 08:40 PM   eudemonia's time 7th-October-2009, 08:41 PM    #1
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Default A poem by Ben Okri

I have really been re-discovering the beauty and contribution of the arts recently. To starved souls the arts can open up vistas and possibilities that we often do not allow ourselves to imagine. So here is a poem for starved souls. Feast on it and post your reactions if you like.

Mental Flight by Ben Okri

What will we choose?
Will we allow ourselves to descend
Into universal chaos and darkness?
A world without hope, without wholeness
Without moorings, without light
Without possibility of mental fight,
A world breeding mass murderers
Energy vampires, serial killers
With minds pining in anomie and amorality
With murder, rape, genocide as normality?

Or will we allow ourselves merely to drift
Into an era of more of the same
An era drained of significance, without shame,
Without wonder or excitement,
Just the same low-grade entertainment,
An era boring and predictable
‘Flat, stale, weary and unprofitable’

In which we drift
In which we drift along
Too bored and passive to care
About what strange realities rear
Their heads in our days and nights,
Till we wake too late to the death of our rights
Too late to do anything
Too late for thinking
About what we have allowed
To take over our lives
While we cruised along in casual flight
Mildly indifferent to storm or sunlight?

Or might we choose to make
This time a waking up event
A moment of world empowerment?
To pledge, in private, to be more aware
More playful, more tolerant, and more fair
More responsible, more wild, more loving
Awake to our unsuspected powers, more amazing.

We rise or fall by the choice we make
It all depends on the road we take
And the choice and the road each depend
On the light that we have, this light we bend,
On the light we use
Or refuse
On the lies we live by
And from which we die.

Extract taken from Wheatley, M (2002) Turning to One Another. San Francisco: Berrett Koehler.
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Old 8th-October-2009, 12:23 AM   Da Blob's time 7th-October-2009, 06:23 PM    #2
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Default Re: A poem by Ben Okri

An interesting poem. It could not help but remind me of how so many people 'drift' through life in some sort of trance, literally. Self-hypnosis is a common mental ability all humans use to eliminate the redundant perceptions from awareness. Unfortunately some of the redundancies ignored represent real threats or real hopes. Yet it is soothing to drift through life in a hypnotic fog, until one gets to the end of the journey and one discovers one has been floating on the river, Styx...
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Old 8th-October-2009, 04:24 PM   Pink Lace's time 8th-October-2009, 04:24 PM    #3
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Default Re: A poem by Ben Okri

Hi. I'm 19/f, new here and don't know you, but you sound like a nice lady. From a young age I was blessed with the ability to know what's in a person's heart and what color panties they are wearing.

You offer a beautiful poem but there is a harshness in the way you offered it. I think this is a time that calls for you to put on a different color panties. As a woman I know that when my heart is full of bitterness and anger I don't wear my prettiest lace. To change your heart, you will need to see things differently.

#1. Remember that all things are one. Light & dark, good & evil, winners & losers, black & white, acid rain falling pridefully and mercifully on a school with no idiots -- all of these things are part of the same universe, intertwined in the same dynamic (Eph 1:9-10).

#2. A light shines brightest in the dark.

#3. There is an ancient parable that goes something like this: if you walk into a den of wolves looking like a sheep, they will probably bite you in the ass. That's what wolves do, so it only harms yourself to be bitter about it. You will feel like wearing your prettiest panties again when you see that the wolves and sheep are part of the same dynamic.

I need to run, I'm late for class. Besides, if I stay, Blob will try to work his charms on me. Next thing you know, he will start a thread called "Blob, Pink Lace, Nia, and the meaning of compassion." But I have a question for Blob: doesn't the definition of 'self-hypnotized' mean that you are charmed by your own charms?

See what I did there?

It must be nice to be a man, just walking around swinging a big stick. If I was a man, this is what I'd say to you: It has been an honor to fight for your honor. Now I must bid you adieu.

*exits stage left, singing the lyrics to Come Sail Away, never to be heard from again*
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Old 8th-October-2009, 10:48 PM   Kidege's time 8th-October-2009, 04:48 PM    #4
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Old 9th-October-2009, 12:00 AM   eudemonia's time 9th-October-2009, 12:01 AM    #5
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Thanks Kid...

We read this poem today in an undergradate class on responsible management. I asked them what Okri suggested were the two futures open to us; how the first and second paragraphs were related - our passive indifference juxtaposed to genocide in Rwanda for example.Then I asked them about the choices they had made in their own lives so far.

I was astonished to learn that only one or two students had heard of the genocide in Rwanda. Most of the students could not say what the first paragraph referred to at all; they had no conception of countries where rape and murder were part of 'normality'. Most of them admitted that they had drifted through life so far and they attributed this to 'society'. Only one person in the class had been on a protest march.

Needless to say we had an interesting debate. But I was truly shocked at their ignorance of the world around them. The Chinese on the course had never heard of Rwanda or The Sudan. Its as if they have been fed on a diet of high self esteem (they are wonderful whatever they do) and high ignorance (the only thing that matters is what directly impinges on me now or in the immediate future).

What is going on????
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Old 9th-October-2009, 03:19 AM   NoID10ts's time 8th-October-2009, 09:19 PM    #6
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Default Re: A poem by Ben Okri

This world is a scary place and far too many people just don't give a damn.

Today I had to pull surveillance footage of a fight we had on campus between two girls. One girl beat the other bloody. These are 13-14 year old kids. And the other kids watched and cheered as if it was a sporting event, one even filmed the whole thing on his camera phone going so far as to go in for close ups as they wrestled on the ground. While I understand it in a purely physical sense, I can't comprehend it, if that makes sense.

It's tempting to allow oneself to get swallowed up in the despair of it all.
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Old 10th-October-2009, 01:58 AM   Agent Intellect's time 9th-October-2009, 08:58 PM    #7
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Default Re: A poem by Ben Okri

Quote:
Originally Posted by NoID10ts View Post
This world is a scary place and far too many people just don't give a damn.

Today I had to pull surveillance footage of a fight we had on campus between two girls. One girl beat the other bloody. These are 13-14 year old kids. And the other kids watched and cheered as if it was a sporting event, one even filmed the whole thing on his camera phone going so far as to go in for close ups as they wrestled on the ground. While I understand it in a purely physical sense, I can't comprehend it, if that makes sense.

It's tempting to allow oneself to get swallowed up in the despair of it all.
Are fights a rare occurrence in middle schools now? I remember when I was in middle school, there was literally (and I mean literally in the literal sense, too) a fight on average of once every day and a half. I even remember one day, walking from my last class to the bus, having to stop in the hallway three times because of the crowds for three separate fights - all within five minutes. Maybe they were putting something in the food at my school.....
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Old 10th-October-2009, 04:02 AM   NoID10ts's time 9th-October-2009, 10:02 PM    #8
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Default Re: A poem by Ben Okri

We have our good weeks and bad weeks. I found out today that that was only one of three for the day, all girls (which are worse because of all the damn hair pulling). But we are actually a good school and I'm sure in some of the rougher ones it's much more frequent. It was like that when I was in school too. I just never got used to it, it's always made me sick to my stomach.
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Old 12th-October-2009, 06:02 AM   Kidege's time 12th-October-2009, 12:02 AM    #9
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Default Re: A poem by Ben Okri

I wanted to reply with a poem of hope, and it took a while but here it is: "Like the cicada", by María Elena Walsh. It was written in 1972, and it references the Argentinian dictatorship (the exile, the dissappeared, etc.).

LIKE THE CICADA

They killed me so many times,
I died so many times,
However, here I am
Resurrecting.

I thank the adversity
And the hand with dagger
Because it killed me so badly,
And I kept singing.

Singing to the sun as the cicada
After a year under the ground,
Just like a survivor
Who comes back from war.

They erased me so many times,
I dissappeared so much,
I went to my own burial
Alone and crying.
I tied a knot in my handerkerchief
But I forgot afterwards
For it wasn't the only time,
And I came back singing.


They killed you so many times,
You'll resurrect so many,
You'll pass so many nights
Despairing.
In the hour of the shipwreck
And the darkness
Somebody will rescue you
To keep singing.
My translation, let's pretend it's good.
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Old 13th-October-2009, 09:05 PM   eudemonia's time 13th-October-2009, 09:05 PM    #10
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Default Re: A poem by Ben Okri

Kidege, that was wonderful - and a brilliant translation.

I can't but wonder how you extract optimism out of a situation like that. Did I hear on the radio the other day that a person 'disappeared' again in Argentina? I have always wondered how on earth you would keep your sanity if you lived in a Colombia of an Argentina or Chile under the dictatorships. I read somewhere that one way of getting rid of the 'desapparcidos' (sp?) was to bundle them into a light aircraft and kick them out of the plane into the ocean below.

It reminds me of the Mercedes Soza song - gracias por la vida.

Wow - where does that optimism come from?? I actually think that Latin America gets the least attention out of all the continents. It's also one of the most unequal continents in the world. I've only seen people dying on the streets in two places in the world - Calcutta and Mexico City.

It's truly tragic but no-one seems to care much.
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Old 14th-October-2009, 02:52 AM   Kidege's time 13th-October-2009, 08:52 PM    #11
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Default Re: A poem by Ben Okri

Thank you.

Quote:
Originally Posted by eudemonia View Post
It reminds me of the Mercedes Soza song - gracias por la vida.
Actually Mercedes Sosa (may she rest in peace) also sang Like the cicada. It's not my favorite song for some reason I can't comprehend, but it's not bad at all.

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