Saturday, June 22, 2013

Rules




Rules 


I.
"There are no rules of architecture for a castle in the clouds."
~G. K. Chesterton


You always break the rules 
you think
they're for someone else.
You said.

You're allowed to break the rules
I said,
when you know
you're going to die.


II.

"There are no rules here - we're trying to accomplish something."
~Thomas A. Edison


You can't waltz with me
in the ballroom, under the prism ice diamonds
if you don’t keep the step, and you won’t wear the gown.
Those are the rules.
You said

The rules aren’t the dance
I said.
You tiled the ballroom
with razors;
the gown comes with a straitjacket.

III.


"Love begets love, love knows no rules, this is the same for all."
~Virgil

You'll never get there
if you don’t follow the road signs
if you don't go where I tell you.
I make the rules here.
You said.

So I've gone walking where
the rules are leaf-written,
where the road's a feathered serpent
flying over a waterfall 
on  the bright
silver map of chaos.


" I am free, no matter what rules surround me…."
~Robert A. Heinlein


~June 2013



posted for     real toads

Challenge: Life, Love and the Pursuit of a Really Profound Thought
Herotomost, Corey Rowley to everyone else, challenges us to "..write a bit of personal philosophy that you would like to impart to your friends.  Something you have been thinking about and strikes a chord with you and may resonate with others as well." I've been thinking a lot about rules lately, and how they --or rebellion against them--once used to dominate my life and shape everything I did--don't know if this will resonate or not. (I've tried to use some quotes to mimic the 'Chris in the Morning' aspect.)


 


Image: La Carte Blanche, Rene Magritte, 1965
All copyright belongs to the copyright holders.

33 comments:

  1. Rules Rules Rules...
    I guess we must have SOME order in life eh?
    Hedgewitch at her succinctly best...:P

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  2. GIN!!!!!!!

    (Not Gordons or Gilbeys either)

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    1. Tangueray? (I like the label.) Thanks G.

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  3. Rules, constraints are necessary at times, but there are so many that limit and chain. Beautifully profound voice in this!

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  4. Fantastic write, kiddo. Love the he said, she said differing perspectives. The gown coming with a straitjacket really speaks to me, as does going where "rules are leaf-written, .......road's a feathered serpent." Brilliant!

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    1. Thanks Sherry. I know you know what I mean.

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  5. I don't really think about rules. Oh ~~ I used to of course. I've copied your poem, it's on the way to my twenty year old granddaughter, who will 'get' it!

    This is a gift ... thank you.

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    1. Thanks, Helen. I spent more time breaking rules than keeping them, before I learned not to think too much. ;_)

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  6. I love this dance of rules. It is profound and how some at the top write their own rules.
    I love these lines:
    " So I've gone walking where
    the rules are leaf-written,
    where the road's a feathered serpent
    flying over a waterfall
    on the bright
    silver map of chaos"
    I now want to walk in the forest
    ;D

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  7. it's a brilliant riff on the question of how much does this dominant culture f us up really. this reminds me of noam chomsky saying that the most important thing the education system teaches kids is to learn the rules. and it starts before then, the rules of the household. the rules are negative based. god, i love the tiled with razors. the heinlein quote is amazing.

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  8. I am guilty of following the rules for most of my life and I wish I'd been more the risk taker than the follower. But there you have it.

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  9. walking where the rules are leaf written sounds like the way to go...and it all comes down to who thinks they make the rules eh? our rules focus too much on what we cant do and not on what we can you know....ha, i break a few rules...smiles.

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  10. This is a neat contemplation. I enjoyed this. Rules were very mysterious things, they help give rise to form, but hold us in stasis if we don't let go of them when the time comes.

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  11. Hedge wakes in the morning, drinks her coffee, checks on her flowers, looks at the challenge for the day and then proceeds to take out a baseball bat and hit home runs until the cows come home. It's was a lesson about context....that one about the gown and the razor blades and the straight jacket is pure, grade A, homogenized, unadulterated genius. Throwing in the quotes was also super kewl......you have outdone yourself here....but then you know that don't you...lol....thanks so much for turning out Joy....you know how I love it when you come calling.

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  12. As a rule breaker, I thoroughly and completely enjoyed, hedgewitch. And, yes, rules are always made to be broken or what would be the point? :)

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  13. Another Verse Escape poem bookmarked (and printed out :) This is so wonderfully clever, Joy.

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  14. You use punctuation with great effect (and affect) here, setting up the poem's own kind of rule with the period You said period. (So it comes out that the only true rule is to do as the voice says.)

    I know many will especially like the second interval, but I've always felt I wouldn't have minded spending a bit more of my life in any kind of ballroom (rather than a boardish kind of room, which has its own sharp edges). So, for me, it is the first and third that I found most powerful and lyrical too, and I guess most profound. The first is pretty amazing- so very surprising and succinct and for me memorable - especially when re-read again. It could almost be repeated at the end of the poem. (I'm absolutely not suggesting this, but only noting that it becomes much more powerful when re-read and when the dichotomy of the you's (the voices) is clearer. I am reading it again now and realize what would help me to get this clearer from the very beginning would be to have a period or comma at the end of the first line of that first stanza. In the other places where you don't have a period there seems to be a run-on line - in the second stanza of the first interval for example, and whenever the "I" voice speaks, but in that first stanza there is a bit of confusion. (Or was for me at least because I kept running "you always break the rules" into "you think" and then to the next line too, but the lines don't work that way.) (This momentary confusion would be fine normally but the punctuation is so carefully marked in the rest of the poem, that it threw me.)

    At any way, just a thought. What is tricky in this whole first interval, I thought, is that the first stanza actually describes something that we think of as very negative - breaking the rules and acting as if they are for someone else - it is exactly a quality that we hate in, let's say, the politically connected. So you are turning it on its head here, and adding in a very good, if controversial, reason for rule-breaking--knowledge of one's own death.. What is especially interesting here is that it is clear in the other two stanzas why one would want to break the rules - these rules are arbitrary and diminishing and imprisoning--and the leaf-written ones (which can't be written in gridded lines) allow for a beautiful kind of freedom.

    But we don't know all that at the beginning. One is allowed to break rules simply because one knows one is going to die. That's (to me) a huge statement (because some rules are not so arbitrary, but that is, in fact, a profound reason for breaking them) -- So maybe worth the signed break of comma or period after that first line, just to eliminate unnecessary confusion.

    You know I am really into punctuation so please don't take offense. I am sure most readers will not get wound up in this kind of thing, but I tend to really look at periods. The word "prisms" has great undertones here. And the whole leaf-written interval is captivating. But there are you are a salesman for your points! In the first stanza, you are just laying them powerfully bare. So interesting. k.

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    1. PS - when I say you are a salesman for your point of view in the second and third interval, I mean that you make powerful passionate arguments that are completely irresistible. I realize that line could sound kind of glib, and even negative and it is not intended that way at all. k.

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    2. Thanks, k, for such a thoughtful response. I know that punctuation is important to you, and to your understanding of a poem, and I never mind when you let me know how something might help you read more clearly. I cut a LOT out of this poem in the editing, so it's always good to see what worked and what didn't.

      I did have a reason for not punctuating that first line/first stanza the way you suggest, however. I had it structured with line breaks a bit differently in the first write, and I then divided it into three parts--originally it read
      "You always break the rules, you think
      they're for someone else, you said."
      That gave a very clear progression, and was the way the thought came to me, as you're trying to read it now, but after reading it a jillion times in the rewrite, I wanted the 'you think' to stand out more, to be considered as a separate piece before it melted into the other two phrases and unified them. I thought about doing it this way:
      You always break the rules.
      You think--
      they're for someone else.
      You said.
      But that seemed clumsy--the too 'You's' didn't flow, and the period made it too definite--too obvious(too rule-bound, and also a bit cliche, I thought, with the dash, which is better used by Poe and Dickinson than me, generally) just as the comma made it too obvious (and leading) the other way--so I left it unpunctuated deliberately, so the words could be strung together either way, and the 'you think'--the nemesis of rules--would be there like a small indicator, the cherry pit, as it were, and then spit back into the whole, because ultimately you do have to read it as a continuum.

      This is a method I learned from W.S. Merwin, who could no doubt make your brain explode, ;_) as he never uses *any* punctuation at all in his later work--I mean not one comma or period in a whole collection. I try not to go overboard with it, because a)I don't have his talent, and b) it can seem affected, but I do find it useful sometimes.

      That was my logic anyway. AFA the salesman, part, I got it, and appreciate the compliment--we all are trying to get the reader to 'buy into' what we write, yes? Thanks for your input,k. as always.

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    3. Hi - yes, I thought there was probably some intent behind your choice, and I do understand the swivel of that and why you might like the ambiguity. (And to make your reader go back and read the first stanza again is not bad at all!)

      I've been thinking about the whole concept - not of punctuation-but of justifications for breaking rules as there is, of course, a negative side to it, and I feel as if I have been on the negative side at various times in my life--that is, the opposite side of the rule-breaker--not so much the enforcer, but the person who had expectation of rules being followed by others - so it is an extremely interesting concept to me--but that may be a whole other poem. I did write something in response - I don't know if I can type it up today but it doesn't deal with that rule-breaking issue directly. It is an extremely complex and painful subject - of course, I may be conflating rules with duty when I say that, but I'm sure you know what I mean. k.

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  15. Sorry to make such a long comment. These are probably outsized topics for me-- rules and punctuation-- separately! K.

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    1. Ha! My answer is longer! Neener neener. ;_)Thanks again for caring enough to read that intently.

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  16. ...and so you should. I love the gown as straightjacket, and how Mr. Fuddy Duddy keeps trying to wedge you into it. That final stanza is freedom itself, with all its risks and breathless beauty.

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  17. A great idea to examine the notion of rules, conduct, freedom...also the way external rules--which we all genuflect towards on occasion--inevitably contrast with deeper desires, inclinations and genuine feelings. The leaf-written path, the waterfall, the map of chaos are all wonderful emblematic of some inner determined direction that beckons. As Mr. Campbell said, we have to follow our own Bliss. This is a fine statement of doing just that. I guess we make our own rules in the process of doing it, but at least we feel we know why. Sorry to expound. This one got me thinking...very nice job.

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    1. Yes, it's a complicated thing, and I'm sure it's a big part of our primate wiring, or really any animal sort of pecking order, or whatever. there is certainly a positive social aspect, a need for rules, but what we do with them is our own responsibility. Thanks for reading Steve. Always good to hear what you have to say.

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  18. Pablo Picasso - "Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist."
    Jonathan Richman - "Pablo Picasso was never called an a**hole."

    OK, maybe he was. But it's poetic license. :)

    The last stanza tells me you are a pro. Nice write, HW. ~ M

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    1. Laffin. ;_) I'm sure he was called worse than that, and I'm also sure he didn't care. Thanks for reading, and for the kind words.

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  19. Rules are made so they can be broken, in my opinion. I came from a very strict home, so this piece resonates with me. Excellent piece of writing, Joy Ann.

    Pamela

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  20. Just brilliant! I'm late to the commentary but just want to tell you how your poetry speaks to me - every time I read your words, I'm filled by the amazement of endless possibility of what one person can do with thought and a pen.

    I love all of it, especially the final stanza.

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    1. Thank you so much, Kerry. You know your words always mean a lot to me, here and in your writing, as well.

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  21. I've spent enough time following the rules to say with all certainty, they are for the most part a complete waste of it. very well done. thank you.

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  22. Hope all okay - summer enjoyments at issue. k.

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'Poetry is an echo asking a shadow to dance' ~Carl Sandburg