Friday, May 1, 2009

Poetry and Philosophy

There's nothing wrong with things. The world is largely made of things. We buy and sell and trade things. We watch things and type on things and eat things and move around in things. But life is more than things.

Ideas drive the world. They start as seeds in some brilliant mind, usually a mind that doesn't draw a hard line between ideas and things. Their ideas then spread to people whose chief concern is ideas, not things. Idea people usually live in universities and write books. Other people who love ideas but aren't professionals take those ideas and spin them out in some way: a book, a screenplay, a course, a poem, a policy or even a program. That's when the world of ideas meets the world of things.

It happens, then, in theaters, classrooms, boardroooms, talk shows, that ideas take concrete shape. If ideas stay in the ivory tower, they are useless; however, ideas are not useless simply because someone can't define their "cash value." Ideas ultimately create a matrix out of which cultures and societies are shaped and re-shaped.

That's why I love poetry and philosophy. Poetry interfaces the world of things and ideas with the eloquence of art. Philosophy proposes, analyzes, criticizes, and promotes ideas and their interface with culture and society.

Click the painting below to watch the first of a three-part video of a talk I gave at the Christian Philosophers Society at USF (University of South Florida), Tampa.

If you're really into these ideas, there are two more parts to the talk. I delivered it to a small group of very interested and intelligent undergraduates majoring in philosophy, religion, biology, psychology, etc.

You can find them on Facebook.

If I have a passion for my generation and this moment in American society, it is for us to be more thoughtful, more aware, more appreciative of ideas, whether in their "raw" form, or shaped by poets, producers or preachers in ways that interface with the world of things.