Greenwood Encyclopedia of African American Literature

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Thinking Is Free + Rodin and Rodan


Rodin's most famous sculpture has always puzzled me, and I suppose this reaction is good because the figure represented could be seen as puzzled, too. The source of my puzzlement springs entirely from the fellow's right elbow, which rests on his left knee. This position seems too awkward to fascilitate thinking. I think most people would put the right elbow on the right knee. Most people might put some clothes on before sitting on a rock to do some thinking, but this a separate issue, and Rodin probably wanted to show how well he could sculpt a representation of a body, as opposed to a representation of trousers on a body.
I do like the fact (or figure) that the fellow is sitting on a "rock" or some kind of mineral-surface because art (the sculpture) blends seamlessly with fact (the material of the sculpture). For similar reasons, I like some of Michelangelo's unfinished sculptures because the artistic forms seem to be struggling, as if propelled by their own wills, to emerge from marble.
Coincidentally, I learned about Rodin and his famous sculpture about the time I was also watching Japanese monster-movies on television, and one of the monsters was Rodan, a kind of dinosaur (which I did not find to be frightening, and which I knew to be a small rubbery model). The French pronunciation of Rodin sounded similar to "Rodan" to me, except for the hard "n" in the latter, so, bizarrely, I've always associated the sculpture with the cinematic monster, which was, of course, a wee sculpture of its own in reality, there on the "set" of the Japanese horror film.
Sadly, these musing constitute merely a circuitous, insufficiently thought-out prelude to a poem about thinking. I should probably apologize for that, I think.
Thinking Is Free
Thinking is free while supplies last.
Supplies may always last because there's
almost no overhead, so to speak,
at the Thought Factory, which supplies
thoughts to consciousness more
frequently than demand demands,
but that's all right because consciousness
has almost unlimited storage-capacity,
and it's not really a market, for thinking
is free. When you're asleep,
the Thought Factory ships surrealistic
cinema to neuro-theaters inside
consciousness, a part of which likes
to stay awake and watch brain-movies
while you snore thoughtlessly.
Don't ask permission to think or pay
entry-fees to exercise thought. Go
on thought-binges. Start a Thought Club.
Launch your thoughts into the digital ether--
what a gas. If you think an evil thought,
you'll know it when you smell it. Cull
it out, and put it in a mental bin
marked "Faulty Product." Otherwise,
just keep thinking as much and as
often as you like. Astoundingly,
thinking is free.
Hans Ostrom Copyright 2008 Hans Ostrom
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