Thursday, March 13, 2008


In a class today we talked about imagery, symbol, metaphor, and so on--the stuff of literature, but also the stuff of what we say and write, read and hear, every day. For instance, I heard someone speculate today that the Democrats will go into the November election "deeply divided." Why "deeply"? How deeply? What is the unit of measurement?

I do agree, of course, that the Democrats have an uncanny ability to find ways to lose presidential elections. This time, the Clintons seem to be in denial about the math and simply won't give up until a) many voters are embittered and unmotivated b) the current Demo money-advantage has dried up and c) the Republicans are once again positioned, essentially, to sweep the South, steal another state or two, and win. In my disinterested moments, I'm fascinated by this negative talent. The Democrats are so reliably inept. They lost to George W. Bush--twice! Yes, I know about the cheating in Florida and Ohio and the Supreme Court decision (Bush v. Gore) at which people will howl with laughter years from now. But why was the absurdist performance-artist, Bush, even close enough to win by cheating? He is a chronically failed businessman who went AWOL in military service and was addicted to cocaine. His own family, if accounts are to be believed, think he's the family loser. And the Democrats couldn't beat him! They can't even conduct basic primary elections in two of the most important states. This is disorganization that verges on the self-destructive. Maybe they were permanently infiltrated by Republicans back in the Nixon days. But "deeply" divided? I don't know.

We do seem to like these "depth" references. "Deeply" in love. "From the bottom of my heart." "He is deeply disturbed." "The depths of the soul." "Deep resentment." "Deeply wounded." Then you think, well, even full-figured people aren't really that deep. I mean the distance from any exterior point on the skin's surface to the innermost point--between spine and stomach?--isn't that far. "Depth psychology." Huh? Just drill down a few inches, and you're at the core of the brain.

Deeply convinced that the Democrats will lose deeply in the depths of Autumn, I dredged up an old "depth" poem in their honor.

In and Out of My Depths

My innermost being is a point located
somewhere between my spine and navel.
The very core of my being is a vertical line
intersecting with that point and situated
close to the bottom of my heart.

I plan to use a global-positioning satellite
to find my subconscious mind one day.
If I find it, it will become my conscious
mind, and I won’t have found it. Oh, well.

When I nap, my psyche naps with me.
In fact my psyche’s like a cat,
following me around the house. My dreams
happen inside my head—I’d say about
three inches deep, maybe less.

I can’t ask my brain why it dreams any more
than it can ask me why I sleep. The depth
of my soul—I wouldn’t know about that.
That is God’s business. I’m way
out of my depth on that one.

The rib-cage, friends, is a shallow basket,
and the skull, after all, is a shallow bowl.

Copyright 2008 Hans Ostrom

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