Thursday, March 22, 2012

Good Question

Good Question

I want to reward you
for what you don’t know,

for taking it out of your pocket
like the lump of Pyrite I brought

to Show and Tell after
finding it in the mulch under

a swing. This is what it feels
like to find gold
, I had thought,

even in knowing it was not
real gold. Foolishness is where

knowledge comes from,
eventually. When did you last

pretend to know what you don’t.
If I professed my bafflement,

would I seem helpless. Would you
wonder how long I’ve been human.

Or would you ask to hold the
glittering rock I found at recess.


  1. Ah, hits the spot like a cold beverage! This is what poets are for (and probably why Plato was so suspicious of them): for daring to point out, as poet Keston Sutherland recently wrote (referencing Adorno’s claim that “being right” defeats the whole purpose of philosophy): “bourgeois consciousness is an exercise in being right … In the twilight of that false end, the ‘newly encountered’ unfamiliar thing takes on a specific object aspect: it is a reagent; its menacingly catalytic substance is not to be grasped but to be dropped on impulse.” The answer to your either/or question, in other words, is door #2, the rock (oh how the second grade always brought the best philosophers).

    By all means, read the rest.

  2. There's a lovely tension in this, the desire for reward, acknowledgment, attention, contrasted with what's given or received; refusing to accede to truth when we've been proven wrong; going for the gold, so to speak, when we know that's not where value is found. A lot's behind and beneath this poem. Thought-provoking as always!

  3. You had me smiling from the first line...I think I need to use this in my class this coming semester....reward them for what they don't know (even though in genius land they think they know it all). Should I share? Too delightful for words (that I know). : )

  4. Yeah, this is right at the heart of education, isn't it. The pretending biz is rough and rampant, but it's hard to convince students to show vulnerability when so many teachers don't, won't, can't. How often do we even catch ourselves in the act of pretending, concealing helplessness? And if teachers and students alike were more honest about helplessness and vulnerability, how would it go over in the worlds where they have to survive?

  5. i'm left wondering just what truth and knowledge are. whatever we declare, i suppose.

    i declare pyrite a marvel. you declare it found.



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