Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Cognition and Consciousness

Everyone has some subdivision
Discomfits them in conversation.

Some don’t like breaks along lines of race,
Others squirm when gender enters class.

Some don’t want to speak of the other
Species dividing up the planet.

A few can get uncomfortable
Debating body and soul; many

Would rather not get into questions
Of gods as ghosts or nature-nurture.

Do you know the story of Mary
Versus poor Martha, of how to serve

Attendance on a man who may be
God? Do you know Rose Red and Snow White,

The dragon or the chicken, chicken
Or the egg, the yolk of language pursed

In the white of the void? For today
The awkward subdivision will be

The story of Cognition versus
Consciousness. One day there was no life

On Earth. The next day, what do you know?
From the beginning, the chemicals

Seem to have been possessed of or by
Volition. But when did life first move

By means of a stratagem, a cline,
Some earliest form of cognition?

And is there a straight line from that point
Through fungal, rhizomal, neural nodes

In networks, or did such cognition
Require repeated reinvention?

One day, Cognition went to the well
To draw the pure, clear, sacred water,

But once at the well, Cognition felt
Weak with bitter lonesomeness and wept.

The tears fell into the well, blooming
Across Cognition’s sad reflection,

Becoming Consciousness. And a voice
Called out from the bottom of the well,

As there is no Consciousness without
Both reflection and the calling out

To Cognition, Come to my rescue,
For I am drowning here in the dark.

But Cognition was either fearful
Or not lonely enough anymore.

To this day, if you go to the well,
You will find them, Cognition curled up

By the lip and often staring down
The dark hole from which Consciousness calls.

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