wordsout by godfrey rust
Welcome To The Real World  < 58 of 59 >


line of focus

Postmodern

Science with the brakes gone
careers through our mental undergrowth

leaving a trail of trampled world-views.
Each new release of the mind’s operating system

is incompatible with the last. Language
follows science at the unsafe distance

of too many generations—words,
set spinning by Copernicus,

pulled down to earth by Newton,
made relative by Einstein, are uncertain now

as quantum mechanics, exploded by Hubble into
an infinite number of possible forms, each syllable

moving away from its companion
at breakneck speed. Our grasp

of meaning loosens, the normal tools of language
are cast aside, and cannot hold

the delicately fractured syllogisms or predict
the consequences of this status quo

where cause becomes effect, the universe
an echo of David Hume’s reluctant laughter. Darwin,

Marx, Freud and Wittgenstein, this church of latter-day
saints who thought they had destroyed it

find they have only ripped off more of the mask
of time’s accretions, helping us to see

that face in all its unfamiliarity—
the face of God in a set

of perfect numbers—one and zero,
all or nothing, formless and empty, darkness

on the surface of the deep, the Spirit hovering
over the waters
falling in a rain of superstrings

under whose downpour our pedestrian words
huddle against drowning like dumb creatures

safe in their ark of paradox. Close to the end
or the beginning we are not surprised to find

myth and mathematics the only languages
we are able to comprehend, the blank equations 

sprawling across infinite whiteboards to where
the text of Genesis awaits its final discovery.


Godfrey Rust 1997, godfrey@wordsout.co.uk. See here for permissions.