If my car was broken, the last person I’d look to for repairs would be a poet. For a technical problem on an old Nissan, a mechanic trumps a poet every day. Mind you, some poets are quite handy with bicycle repairs. They get a lot of practice with bikes … that’s all most of them can afford … even in countries dripping with wealth and BMWs. Such is their perceived value to society.
As you may have noticed, planets are different to cars and bikes. In fact, it would be naïve to claim that a planet bore any similarity to even a very complicated car … or even a huge, sophisticated cruise ship. It doesn’t. Because, amazing as it may be, each of these extraordinary machines is just a bunch of bits and pieces joined together and behaving in a predictable manner. And when a bit breaks down, a mechanic burrows in, knowing what to look for, and repairs or replaces it.
Machines are a wondrous playground for linear, logical, convergent thinking. It’s a playground particularly suited to the ‘operating system’ that drives countless boys and men.
Because widgets, wheels and wings have been at the core of ‘progress’ in recent centuries, someone, somewhere, sometime thought it may be useful to try to describe and control everything as if it behaved and was designed like a machine. This person was an idiot. And, in their idiocy, they gave birth to the machine metaphor deeply embedded in the language and thinking of economists, politicians and other people of dubious value to our ailing world.
‘Business is firing on all cylinders’ … ‘I’m just a cog in the wheel’ … ‘we need to steer society in a new direction’ … ‘she had a break-down’.
The use of the machine metaphor has created the illusion that a human being, an organisation, an ecosystem or a planet is basically made up of bits and pieces that can be analysed and separated into discrete components, each of which can then be tweaked or fixed to achieve what should be a predictable result.
A truck-load of the men who run the world act as if the machine metaphor was … well, more than just a metaphor … more than just a myth. At the same time, many men with more sense and less hubris, plus a vast cohort of women, can see the glaring disconnect between this linear fantasy and the non-linear reality … between an incomplete, patriarchal fiction and a holistic, balanced view of fact. And that fact is this …
…we don’t live in a simple world that is linear and logical, and which fits neatly into beige charts and boxy categories; we live in a complex, curvy, organic, somewhat random arrangement of molecules, minds, meteorological marvels, magical mountains and marine misfits.
To tackle this complexity – to even talk about this complexity – we need the contribution of people who can firstly make sense of each tangle, extract meaning from it, then express their wisdom in a way that causes us to gasp with newfound insight … that connects head and heart … that inspires us to rise up, speak out and act.
We need one epiphany after another … and that’s a really good job for our poets, artists and actors … many of whom will be Wise Women, or at the very least will be directed, supported and nurtured by Wise Women.
No, our poets won’t actually fix the planet as if it were a faulty kettle, but they may help ‘fix’ a few attitudes, and kick-start a few seismic shifts in the way people perceive pressing problems.
I’m not sure the two female poets (one Jew, one Muslim) in the following clip could repair my old Nissan, but I’d be happy for them to go to work on my planet.
This clip is from the playlist on our Artistic Influence page. Go there now to be further inspired, then share a tip or a clip that you’ve discovered, that helps folk express themselves artistically about complex issues.