a poem with dead/serious footnotes :-)
A person schizophrenic? No, our world.
The ones who witness have to wear the tag.
If they tattle often, they get hurled
into an institution. When we bag
a sister who’s been sensitised, or when
we keep a brother battened down with drugs;
deny their rights as women, children, men;
excuse ourselves for giving only shrugs —
who benefits? The corpse of engineers?
The species in the forests that we chop?
Lobotomies can level-scan most fears,
or channel them so each is the other’s cop.
What we call power is hallucination.
May the gods preserve us from a lucid nation.
schizophrenia. under-sedated awareness of world we live in. Dictionaries of the late twentieth century of something on Earth are pleased to call schizophrenia ‘psychotic disorders’ characterised by withdrawal from ‘reality’ and ‘illogical patterns of thinking, delusions, and hallucinations, accompanied in varying degrees by other emotional, behavioural, or intellectual disturbances.’
Psychotic is gobbledygook: ‘perceived disturbance of personality and loss of contact with reality and deterioration of normal (not deviating from what is common, usual, or to be expected; adherence to an established standard) social functioning’.
Disorders is gobbledygook: ‘ailments that affect the function of mind or body’. Late-twentieth-century dictionaries say “Schizophrenia, often associated with dopamine imbalances in the brain and defects of the frontal lobe, may have an underlying genetic cause.” Schizophrenia can more usefully and accurately be associated with an under-sedated awareness of the world we live in.
Gobbledygook itself means unclear, wordy jargon — imitative of the gobbling of a turkey, but I digress.
witnesses. uses one’s natural ability (one’s wit) to take note of the relationship between seemingly incongruous or disparate things; also testifies about what one notices.
tattles. reveals another’s plans or activities through indiscreet talk. [Middle English tatelen, to stammer, probably from Middle Dutch, of imitative origin.]
bag. All of these disparate meanings: 1. To put into or as if into a bag. 2. To cause to bulge like a pouch. 3. To capture or kill as game.
sensitised or sensitized. made sensitive to: Seeing sensitises the observer to the coexistence of seemingly contradictory phenomena; silver makes a film sensitive to light; MTV makes adults sensitive but they don’t let on.
sensitive. needing sedation because capable of perceiving, and/or being susceptible to the attitudes, feelings, or circumstances of others.
keep a brother. alluding to Cain’s, ‘I know not: Am I my brother’s keeper?’ [Genesis 4:9]
sisters and brothers. my fellow creatures, soul or soulless.
battened. I was thinking of fastening down with battens (flexible strips of wood), from the same Old French word bataunt, wooden strip, that ‘batter’ comes from, which seems apropos. The other ‘battened’ (Old Norse batna, to improve) is counterpoint: fattening and prospering at another’s expense.
corpse of engineers. playing, at the risk of mixing up single and plural forms, with the idea of damages done by corps (singular and plural) of engineers; e.g., the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers building harbours, damming and channelling rivers, and generally developing waterways and other civil projects.
lobotomies. surgical incisions into frontal lobe of brain to sever several nerve tracts, formerly used to ‘treat’ certain mental disorders but now performed chiefly for amusement. ‘I would rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy.’
level-scan. my nonce word to combine shades of level (relative rank on a scale; natural or proper position; flat; no abrupt variations; rational and balanced; made horizontal, flat, or even; torn down; equalised) with brain scan (two-dimensional record of distribution of radioactive tracer, obtained by means of a scanning scintillation counter, used to identify cerebral blood flow and detect intracranial masses, lesions, tumours, or infarcts). I am thinking of the dead-level scan of a completely normalised (i.e. dead) brain.
Nonce words occurring, invented, or used just for a particular occasion, are cool and perhaps the only kind of nonce words there can be?
lucid nation. a nation (whatever that notion means) that is not opaque or clouded, is easily understood; intelligible and/or ‘mentally sound; sane or rational. Sounds a bit like Lucifer.
Onwards and downwards,
Alan for my sins