Mr Darwin, please explain
Reading TS Eliot is to be drawn into timeless space where images of past and future combine in a continuous stream of thinking …. perhaps the immortality of ideas. The genetic material of life, DNA, is immortal, an unbroken thread linking life’s origins 4 billion years ago to the present ….. and future.
Sequence upon sequence of symbolic letters encoding countless forms of bodies, built to the same principles inherent in the genetic code, yet morphing in endless variety according to the tenets of natural selection ….. Darwin’s idea that transformed our thinking from a moment of purposeful creation to how life changes through time.
Cosmologists suggest we live in one of many possible universes perhaps in parallel time allowing parallel lives, one not knowing of the other’s existence because of the limitations of our three dimensional view of the world and its existence in the cosmos. We see in three dimensions and no more, but we are aware of more because mathematics tells us so.
Mr Darwin, please explain explores the seamless continuity of Darwinian thinking with the timelessness of Eliot’s poetry…..
I In my beginning is my end …. V In my end is my beginning.
(East Coker, Four Quartets, TS Eliot)
Mr Darwin, please explain
What is this selection of love so natural
To drive men insane and women to purgatory
Can Mr Darwin explain?
Some ask the question
But I doubt not, that his meaning is clear
Why love one to one remains so dear,
Though Karl denied it, Lenin too
And Uncle Joe dismissed it
As a plot to subvert what was good for the proletariat.
But in that recent time when ******’s darkness shadowed The Earth
Love glowed in the gloom of the despair of nations’ Terezíns
Which to-day helps to repair our broken dreams
Of why we love one to one.
Keats loved one ***** Brawne
And Coleridge his Asra
But what is ecstasy’s advantage?
When comes the pain of separation
Mr Darwin, please explain.
Is it lust, is it reproduction?
But then when love is thwarted
We cannot function,
Where is the advantage
Mr D --- what is the aim, can you explain?
How the coiled spiral passing from time to time
Its immortal message which condemns each generation
To the pain of separation
When the reaper calls, or the rival sunders
The coils of love’s message we’ve inherited
Since the beginning of time
Why? What is the advantage?
Mr D, please tell me your answer.
The whales they sing one to one
Like Eliot’s mermaids singing
Not to Prufrock but perhaps to you and me
The message of communication.
Is this love as one to one
Each supports another wounded
By the enormity of the harpoon?
The dictator’s message in another form
Devoid of love, sundered, never whole
Coming from that Terezín we never solve.
Dysfunctional Mr D, where’s the advantage
For such conflicting feelings to evolve?
Genes are the immortal ones
The links between past and future
But ever present
Unintentionally directing the future and fate of humankind.
Silent, unobserved yet Gods of their domain
Which is us and life past and future
Coiled threads of eternity that determine our happenings
Including our loving one to one.
In their entirety and interaction
Do they, in their interaction
Determine our loving one to one?
The bond that binds each to each
Is their selfish blindness which some accord to be
Like boats tossed helplessly on storm driven seas
Subject to the whims of wind and rain
No more than replicators housed in vehicles
Subject only to the chances of a changing world.
Bodies are vehicles, genes the replicators
Bodies and genes indivisible
At least in the present
But separated as bodies die after
Genes have passed to their immortal future.
Perhaps this is what is meant when they say
That the gene is selfish.
Accommodated in the selfless body at a particular time
But then discarded as genes pass its immortality
From past to future
Changes slow, quick depending on stasis or acceleration
According to Darwinian tenets that enfold the changes
In genes and therefore bodies
Through all time.
Cycle upon cycle of genes and bodies
One perpetual, the other discarded each generation
By the unseen hand of an uncaring Nature.
Our nature, all nature, the beauty of sunsets
Driven by the mechanical clocks of cosmic cycles.
Yet Relative to other Dimensions where
What we see, we do not see
Because of the profound limitations
Of three dimensions.
We see only dimly what might be past
And what could be future
As we struggle in the presence of tautological explanation.
Body and gene, gene and body the temporary and perpetual
Bound in the dance of a living presence
The one ensuring the other’s future
For all time.
Circle upon circle, tautological argument
Explaining everything and nothing but all powerful
In its reductionism of humankind
And life kind as whales support the one
Wounded by the enormity of the harpoon
Loosed by the bodies of genes
Storm tossed and directionless
When thinking that others’ bodies
Can be discarded without thought or thinking
We say the same thing in different ways,
Recycled ideas that parody the twenty different plots of novels
That return to the same point,
Come back to the common question
Why do we love one to one?
People ask…. ‘Can Mr Darwin explain?’
Perhaps not through bodies and genes
But instead, understanding the epistasis of genes and where we live.
We live in this world because of our past
As genes dance to the chance of environmental shifts
The whims of wind and rain, sea and wave
That blow and toss the genes
In their bodies, in random patterns,
Some sinking, others floating
Not always by chance
But because they float and fight
Yielding to the pressures of an uncaring nature.
Like soft down yielding to the thud of falling bodies
Softening their impact.
So to yield as well as fight
Is part of the selection of one by another
In the perpetual
Celebration of loving one to one.
We yield to the blandishments of the soft embrace
We fight to attain it
And once attained, what we do is all we do
To keep a hold on what we love
Only to lose it to the grim reaper of all our dreams
In this present world,
But to regain it in worlds to come
The link between past and future
For immortal genes
Of transitory bodies which is how
We think and see our presence
In time without end.
General relativity and quantum mechanics
The combination of infinity and the very small
Do not replace the Newtonian meaning of the day to day.
Just, that Newton is displaced to another time and place
Where description is precise but with uncertainty according to
To be certain is to fix ideas in time
Like natural selection in the Darwinian mind
To be propitiated without exception, else suffer extinction of self
And of all that matters to self and others
Sacrificed on the alter to propitiate the Gods of our certainty.
That is not to say that an idea cannot be fixed in time
That its central tenet is not true for eternity.
But truth is relative and uncertain
To be strengthened or cast aside
By better truths or developments of the same.
Our understanding expands with time
But often returns to something that was said before
And said again as if it were newly minted
In the mind of its creator
To become dogma
And as all dogmas
The truth unchanged in people’s minds.
Yet the central tenet survives, as survival is the result of natural selection
But with added components as
Understanding expands as to what is meant by surviving and survival.
To inherit the coils of love’s message is to survive.
Can Mr Darwin explain?
Perhaps is not a whole question
In the same sense that answers depend on
The question asked and who is asking.
The truths that questions seek to answer
The truths of love, beauty and heating systems
Arise from answers to questions in different languages,
And languages translate imperfectly from one to one
As genes imperfectly translate proteins and therefore love in the
Darwinian world of our dreams.
Truth comes in different forms
And Darwinian truth is true to the questions it addresses.
But these are not the only questions of why we are,
Who we are, what we are
Who, what, why are we?
Questions past and future asked in the present
For all eternity.
Christmas (25th-28th) 2012
Copyright David Applin 2015
......the rest of the poem as promised when the first part was posted May 2015. Another poem from the collection 'Letters to Anotherself'