Tuesday, 24 August 2021

Who Sees You


Entropic Villanelle
Tom Disch

Things break down in different ways.
The odds say croupiers will win.
We can’t, for that, omit their praise.


I have had heartburn several days,
And it’s ten years since I’ve been thin.
Things break down in different ways.


Green is the lea and smooth as baize
Where witless sheep crop Jessamine
(We can’t, for that, omit their praise)


And meanwhile melanomas graze
Upon the meadows of the skin
(Things break down in different ways).


Though apples spoil, and meat decays,
And teeth erode like aspirin,
We can’t, for that, omit their praise.


The odds still favor croupiers,
But give the wheel another spin.
Things break down in different ways:
We can’t, for that, omit their praise.

Thursday, 26 November 2020

Inside Skinner's Box

 "The real question is not whether machines think but whether men do. The mystery which surrounds a thinking machine already surrounds a thinking man."

"It is a mistake to suppose that the whole issue is how to free man. The issue is to improve the way in which he is controlled. "

"A person who has been punished is not thereby simply less inclined to behave in a given way; at best, he learns how to avoid punishment."

  "We admire people to the extent that we cannot explain what they do, and the word "admire" then means "marvel at."

"I
do not admire myself as a person. My successes do not override my shortcomings. "

  "I did not direct my life. I didn’t design it. I never made decisions. Things always came up and made them for me. That’s what life is."



Random bits from BF Skinner.

Wednesday, 21 October 2020

Bivouacs

 

Bivouacs
In Somecourt Wood, in Somecourt Wood,
The nightingales sang all night,
The stars were tangled in the trees
And marvellous intricacies
Of leaf and branch and song and light
Made magic stir in Somecourt Wood.

In Somecourt Wood, in Somecourt Wood,
We slithered in a foot of mire,
The moisture squelching in our boots;
We stumbled over tangled roots,
And ruts and stakes and hidden wire,
Till marvellous intricacies
Of human speech, in divers keys,
Made ebb and flow thro’ Somecourt Wood.
In Somecourt Wood, in Somecourt Wood,
We bivouacked and slept the night,
The nightingales sang the same
As they had sung before we came.
‘Mid leaf and branch and song and light
And falling dew and watching star.
And all the million things which are
About us and above us took
No more regard of us than
We take in some small midge’s span

Of life, albeit our gunfire shook
The very air in Somecourt Wood.
In Somecourt Wood, in Somecourt Wood,
I rose while all the others slept,
I seized a star-beam and I crept
Along it and more far along
Till I arrived where throbbing song
Of star and bird and wind and rain
Were one – then I came back again –

But gathered ere I came the dust
Of many stars, and if you must
Know what I wanted with it, hear,
I keep it as a souvenir,
Of that same night in Somecourt Wood.
In Somecourt Wood, in Somecourt Wood,
The cuckoo wakened me at dawn.
The man beside me muttered, “Hell!”

But half a dozen larks as well
Sang in the blue – the curtain drawn

Across where all the stars had been
Was interlaced with tender green,
The birds sang, and I said that if
One didn’t wake so cold and stiff
It would be grand in Somecourt Wood.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
And then the man beside me spoke,
But what he said about it broke
The magic spell in Somecourt Wood.
                        --Gilbert Waterhouse