Canto the Second: Memory, Dreams and Separation.
It is the habit of the scientific mind
To give the ‘abstract’ to a ragged boy
Who leads the caravan through unmarked sand,
Whistling to himself in hope
That plodding evidence will follow in due course…
If Canto the First laid out the where and the why of this journey, Canto the second lays out the what and the how. First how memory is laid down, and what the indications are of that incremental storage of converging evolution’s experience. Reason defines the over-arching processes; the spoor to look for in the windswept sands for these will be constants throughout.
Some themes, perhaps, to set an overture:
Intelligence as pathfinder, moccasin through shade…
The separation of the mind from deeper Self…
Opposition in the ladder rope ascent
To newly knot the simple in complex…
Acceleration (as increasing consequence of thought)
To single sapiens, forgetful of the rest.
The processes that determined matter’s increasing complexity, will continue into the mind of man and the building of his intellect. This Canto outlines the importance of spontaneous act, in response to the demands of survival: the pendulum of conflicting claims between opposing alternatives and the increasing independence from the environment, as creatures develop autonomous behaviors. Instinctive behaviours show a gradation of autonomy which increases up the scale of complexity, becoming more plastic and adaptable, and open to learning until in Man learning has to underpin almost every skill. It is in the anticipation of the future ( from the experiences of the past) that shape new skills, migration, orientation, food storage and social cohesion.
By laying out quite complex adaptation in simple single celled creatures like the slime mould, without even a nervous system, Reason demonstrates the molecular basis of responsiveness and memory.
Some progressed, some fell short
To fertilize the forest floor…
The slime mould’s inauspicious name
Conceals its ingenuity; to cluster for defense or sex,
Otherwise content to creep, along in single solitude.
A pin-head size, a single spore,
Takes a collective chemical slide,
When deprived forms head and stalk,
Becoming a ‘system’, transient, just
To liberate a cloud of more.
Soul warns Reason to be contented with a soft charcoal impressionism for otherwise the wood will be lost in the trees of dispute.
Use words to summon pictures to take shape
Like Keats’s attic urn; spare, shadowed, still,
The parade of cattle, garlands, maidens, men,
Preserved in aspic time, upon a shelf
To catch the light but through the poet’s pen.