Friday, July 30, 2010

Lessons in allocentrism

Into our fun house of mirror neurons,
a favorite Fellini character strides
distorted perhaps,
but reflected clearly enough,
none the lesser for our wear.

Who is it? Which one?
It’s truly hard to decide.

It could be that brute Zampanò,
his chain unpopped,
and as ever demanding our attention...

Or the cypher, Steiner,
teetering on edge
to tell us his secrets...

Or a voluptuous
la Saraghina,
reveling in our riveted eyes...

Or gentle Giulietta,
chasing her voices,
their whispers that echo ours.

It doesn’t matter who, in the end.
Better yet, let’s take them all,
and crowd them close in.

What matters is,
we ask they try
a seeming simple task—
touching tongue to nose,
or elbow to chin—
and we watch
their attempts, together.

Strive and fail.
Strive and fail.
Strive and fail.

These are the Sisyphean rhythms
we’ll need to learn.

We have our limits,
but empathy is endless.

In this week's Big Tent Poetry prompt, Jill Crammond-Wickham asks us to imagine pop culture icons in a mundane setting. I'm sure what I find iconic might not measure up as "pop" and my mundane is always quite mental, but Fellini and a fun house seemed a natural fit for exploring some neurological concepts.


vivienne blake said...

I confess to not really understanding this, and it is anything but mundane. Other people's fantasies are fascinating.

The Scrybe said...

Hearts, for both Fellini and your poem :)

flaubert said...

I am with Viv other people's fantasies are facinating! Nice!

Francis Scudellari said...

@Viv It's an odd mix of film references, neurology and philosophy, which will happen when I write too early in the day :P. The characters are from La Strada, La Dolce Vita, 8-1/2, and Giulietta degli Spiriti. Mirror neurons are the neurons that fire when we observe other's doing something, and they are thought to be the key to empathy/allocentrism (walking in someone else's shoes). They also may have played a role in the development of consciousness.

@The_Scrybe You gotta love Fellini. I watched and enjoyed your short film, btw.

@Pamela I'd take Fellini's fantasies over my own any day :).

mareymercy said...

As with Fellini films, I just went with it. Works for me!

Stan Ski said...

Popular culture is so more than just 'pop' music. Your thoughts are quite likely what the likes of Fellini had in mind when making films of this genre.

Elizabeth said...

Not too familiar with Fellini, but did catch the drift and loved those last few verses. I enjoy reading all of the responses but today I learned a new word and its meaning: allocentrism. I like that a great deal as well. Thank you, Francis.


human being said...

this could be a favorite of crow...
not just because of fellini...

but also because of the way spider poet has woven the elements into a wholeness...

the links at the end of each stanza:

'our wear'
'our attention'
'tell us'
'our riveted eyes'
'echo ours'

that come to:

'crowd them in'

all push gently the reader's consciousness toward that empathic attitude... to be able to see the world form another one's eyes...

and that's the principal element in any communication...
(sadly absent in many of our daily contacts)

i remember once i told you, you have a powerful sense of empathy!
well... you proved it once again!

enjoyed reading/watching/visualizing/understanding this a lot!

Cynthia Short said...

Those last two lines tugged at my me...I will remember them always...

The Scrybe said...

:D I'm glad you enjoyed it!

Francis Scudellari said...

@Twitches That's a great approach to take with Fellini, and probably my poetry too ;).

@Stan I think Fellini might have appreciated my fun-house mirror reference :).

@Elizabeth It's a word I just picked up recently too, while reading a fascinating article about the neurologist VS Ramachandran. And I highly recommend Fellini's films.

@hb I must have a strong set of mirror neurons :).

@Cynthia Thanks... I thought they gave the poem a positive spin.

Rallentanda said...

A surreal splintering of the mind.If I said that in Latin it would sound more impressive.So, are you surrealing through Spanish seguidillas or snatching siestas in sunny Chicago?

Francis Scudellari said...

@Rall I've been trying to immerse myself in Spanish in between siestas... the poem is coming along. It's called Los Huesos. I don't channel Lorca as much as I recall him.

Tumblewords: said...

reflected clearly enough - a truism, I think. I love the push/pull, the down/up and off/on feel of this - catchy piece!

vivienne blake said...

Your explanation, a re-read and a dictionary have left me much nearer to understanding and appreciating where you're taking us with this poem. Looked up Sisyphean which sounds like a metaphor for my life!