Thursday, May 17, 2007

Dogmatic/Despotic Dishwasher

Some weeks ago I was washing dishes (I have washed since then--fear not for my kitchen) and loaded (dashed?) a cup, including its left-over water, into the dishwasher. The water in the cup ran down the laundry closet door that parallels the dishwasher when open. What came to mind at that point was a misquoted image from Blake's "London":

. . . Hapless soldier's blood
runs in sighs down palace walls.

The correct version, of course, is

And the hapless Soldier's sigh
Runs in blood down Palace-walls.

I pondered why I should couple that line with that moment, beyond the fact that something was running down something else. The carelessness with the cup (why didn't I empty it in the sink?) came, perhaps, from a half-excited half-defiant approach to the modern dishwasher.

I was more than washing dishes with an attitude like that. I was engaged in a symbolic act; I was defying those who rinse their dishes first and then observe that dishwashers don't save them any time. Blake's lines were good commentary on this mark of weakness, that I was not choosing because my method worked for me; I was working against people who wash dishes differently than I. In all its piteous melodrama, I was a dishwashing despot.

How many asynchronous battles do we fight? I think authentic interactions and actions can be referential, but should not confrontational; motivation based on what we love is better than based on what we struggle against; authentic interaction deals more with what is present than what is absent.

Beauty is that the etymology of "verse" includes the idea of turning; poetry turns and returns us to Tennyson's larger heart and kindlier hand.

Poetry reminds us of who we are and what we ought to be; it says "thou art the man" and "behold the man."


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