Wednesday, October 2, 2019

A Few Notes on the Many Ways That Culture Can Be Defined

1. Implausification

Definitions that adore
Concision rarely
Can be falsified.

A testable equation
Miraculously beyond
Tautology is condemned

To heavy use as a tool,
A common weapon,
Something that can split the world.

It may not want that.
Pure proof turns a wheel of prayer.
Souls that love tranquility

Consider rebirth better
As yams than as Maitreya.

2. Decommissioned Dispersed Campsites

Is culture ghostly?
Consider Plotkin’s
Definition: culture is

Non-genetic transmission
Of information.
Gravity is physical.

A wildfire is physical.
The black and white, burnt-over
Woods are physical.
But to say so’s mystical.

The maimed, half-torched pines that live
Trigger human sympathy
In a way the scorched ghosts don’t.

3. Stelae Sequelae

Once in third person, a life
Turns cultural artifact.
When we fantasize
Postmortem stories
And addenda to our lives,
We turn them into objects
That story lingers outside,
Rooting in their ruined walls.

When I was little,
I thought it was sad
Good stories had to finish.
But now I know a story
Never quits. Only readers
And storytellers finish.

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