Recently journalist Bill Moyers asked astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, “Why is dark-matter so important?” To which the celebrated scientist threw up his hands and grinned, “I wish we knew!”
Now you see, right there is why this ancient feud. Physicists admit they don’t have answers to many cosmic mysteries, but insist, “Someday we’ll know.” Whereas poets accept many of these mysteries as something you won’t ever know, but you can embrace as is.
Personally I prefer the poets’ perspective. Why? Because like a child doesn’t need the mystery of mother-love explained to appreciate it, most poets try simply to embrace the mysteries of the cosmos without any formal explanation. Which may just be the first law of the cosmos: “Embrace me, don’t always try to explain me!”
What are we being asked to embrace….? One guess is there is this on-again-off-again rhythm to all of existence. In weather: hot & cold. In society: crime & punishment. In love: full heart & broken heart. While science works heroically to track these rhythms so we might better be able to manage them, this is where the poets seem to have the edge.
Whereas science diagrams El Nino and Arctic Vortex, listen to the poetic power of a Wagner opera about the winter gods of the north. While science studies the sociology of urban gangs, experience the seething rivalry for power in ‘West Side Story.’ And while science explores the biology of the brain during love, allow yourself the three-oclock-in-the-morning wisdom of torch-song lyrics with lines like: “I feel glad just to be sad thinking of you.”
The poets’ defense rests………
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