An Appropriate Response
“It is sometimes an appropriate response to reality to go insane.”–Philip K. Dick
In Philip K. Dick’s novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, Dick imagined a world in the not-too-distant future where animals are extinct. People console themselves with simulacra–android pets. The more I see of the way we, as a species, treat this planet, the more likely Dick’s dystopian scenario becomes.
I’m away for the next couple of weeks but I leave you with this task: tell us, in verse, what such a world would be like? I imagine it will be a world where Rilke’s famous poem (written after a visit to the Jardin des Plantes in Paris) is utterly baffling:
The bars he passes strike his gaze
and stun his eyes: they’ve lost their hold.
A thousand bars create a maze,
beyond which there’s no world, just cold.
Pacing out that small, mean ground:
silent, supple, stride so lithe;
a ritual dance performed around
a point wherein his will survives.
Sometimes the pupil’s quiet shutter
lifts – and lets an image dart,
down the limbs’ intense mute flutter,
to silent die within the heart.
—by Rainer Maria Rilke (my translation)