Jack Gilbert (1925 – 2012)

(via Sheila Murphy)


The Abnormal Is Not Courage

The Poles rode out from Warsaw against the German
Tanks on horses. Rode knowing, in sunlight, with sabers,
A magnitude of beauty that allows me no peace.
And yet this poem would lessen that day. Question
The bravery. Say it’s not courage. Call it a passion.
Would say courage isn’t that. Not at its best.
It was impossib1e, and with form. They rode in sunlight,
Were mangled. But I say courage is not the abnormal.
Not the marvelous act. Not Macbeth with fine speeches.
The worthless can manage in public, or for the moment.
It is too near the whore’s heart: the bounty of impulse,
And the failure to sustain even small kindness.
Not the marvelous act, but the evident conclusion of being.
Not strangeness, but a leap forward of the same quality.
Accomplishment. The even loyalty. But fresh.
Not the Prodigal Son, nor Faustus. But Penelope.
The thing steady and clear. Then the crescendo.
The real form. The culmination. And the exceeding.
Not the surprise. The amazed understanding. The marriage,
Not the month’s rapture. Not the exception. The beauty
That is of many days. Steady and clear.
It is the normal excellence, of long accomplishment.

—Jack Gilbert

time wars

“…We are required to live in the condition that Linda Stone has called “continous partial attention”, where our attention is habitually distributed across multiple communication platforms.

As Franco ‘Bifo’ Berardi has argued, we now live in the tension between the infinity of cyberspace and the vulnerable finitude of the body and the nervous system. “The acceleration of information exchange has produced and is producing an effect of a pathological type on the individual human mind and even more on the collective mind,” Berardi writes in Precarious Rhapsody. “Individuals are not in a position to process the immense and always growing mass of information that enters their computers, their cell phones, their television screens, their electronic diaries and their heads. However, it seems indispensable to follow, recognise, evaluate, process all this information if you want to be efficient, competitive, victorious.

…Cyberspatial urgencies – the smartphone’s flashing red light, the siren call of its alert – function like trance-inhibitors or alarm clocks that keep waking us out of collective dreaming.”

— Mark Fisher, “Time Wars”